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Statement Issued from the Sixty-Sixth Session of the Assembly of the Croatian Conference of Bishops

Zagreb (IKA)

On Friday, April 21, 2023, the Secretariat of the Croatian Conference of Bishops issued a statement from the Regular Plenary Session of the Assembly of the CCB, which we hereby present in its entirety.

The Regular Sixty-Sixth Plenary Session of the Assembly of the Croatian Conference of Bishops was held from April 18 to 20, 2023, at the CCB headquarters in Zagreb. The President of the CCB, Archbishop Dražen Kutleša of Zagreb, presided. At the beginning of the session, the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Croatia, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, greeted those present. The delegates from other bishops’ conferences who participated in the session included the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Archbishop of Sarajevo and Apostolic Administrator of  the Military Ordinariate, Msgr. Tomo Vukšić; the President of the Slovenian Conference of Bishops, Bishop Andrej Saje of Novo Mesto; the delegate from the Italian Conference of Bishops, Bishop  Andrea Bruno Mazzocato of Udine; the delegate from the Polish Conference of Bishops, Bishop  Krzysztof Nitkiewicz  of Sandomierz; and the delegate from the International Conference of Bishops of SS. Cyril and Methodius, Coadjutor Bishop  Fabijan Svalina of Srijem.

Archbishop Kutleša congratulated the new Bishop of Poreč and Pula, Msgr. Ivan Štironja, and also singled Archbishop Želimir Puljić, who was recently appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Split-Makarska. The President of the CCB mentioned the Continental Assembly of the Synod in Europe, which was held in Prague this February. He informed the bishops that an incentive had come from the Synod of Bishops in Rome to observe a Day of Prayer in all the bishops’ conferences for the Success of the Assembly of the Synod to be held this autumn in Rome. The proposed date for this Day of Prayer is May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, will be visiting Croatia.

Archbishop Kutleša also mentioned the thirtieth anniversary of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, which was established by a decree of the Holy See dated May 15, 1993, taking the opportunity to thank all the bishops who have served in the various bodies of the CCB, as well as their associates. He also spoke about the twenty-fifth anniversary of Croatian Catholic Radio and the thirtieth anniversary of IKA Zagreb—The Croatian Catholic Press Agency, two media that the bishops have established to serve as the voice of the Church, the voice of the truth and the voice of the gospel in this world and time. At the end of his remarks, he thanked Cardinal Josip Bozanić for participating in this conference as its president and a member of the Permanent Council, and for his work and commitment to improving its organization.

On behalf of all the members of the CCB, Archbishop Kutleša presented Cardinal Bozanić with a silver pectoral cross.

Then the guests reported on the situation of the Catholic Church in their respective countries and the social circumstances under which it functions.

During the working portion of the session, the bishops were presented with a document from the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life, Pastoral Guidelines for Particular Churches, which was translated and published in the Croatian language just prior to the session. It provides guidelines for improving the programs for marriage preparation, newly married couples and couples in crisis.

One of the main topics was the new Guidelines of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons. A draft of the Guidelines was amended and supplemented in compliance with the Apostolic Letter Vos estis lux mundi issued by Pope Francis. It was determined that it will be necessary to revise the existing structures established by the Guidelines for the establishment of metropolitan offices and diocesan commissioners. A proposal was adopted to work on reorganization, i.e., the establishment of a single office for the protection of minors for the entire Croatian Conference of Bishops. The bishops were also made acquainted with a new Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis, Vos estis lux mundi, and a new version of the document Vademecum, issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, which have been translated into the Croatian language and will soon be published on the website of the CCB, where there are already numerous documents about the protection of minors and vulnerable persons. Meanwhile, two manuals issued by the Italian Conference of Bishops have been translated into the Croatian language for educators and pastoral workers, The Wounds of Abuse and Examples of Good Practices for Prevention and the Protection of Minors in the Parish, which will also be accessible to the public on the CCB website. Dioceses were urged to organize training for priests, diocese personnel, religious teachers and everyone involved in the mission of the Church, in cooperation with for the Center for the Promotion of the Welfare of Vulnerable Persons under the auspices of the Catholic University of Croatia.

The bishops were informed about the activity of the Center for the Promotion of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which marks its twenty-fifth year of operations this year. The bishops expressed support for the silver jubilee of the Center to be celebrated on November 23 and 24 of this year with a two-day symposium and commemorative program. A proposal was accepted for the appointment of episcopal trustees in the dioceses to promote the social doctrine of the Church in the pastoral activities of the particular Churches.

After the presentation of the programs for Catholic religious education under special conditions, following public consultations conducted last month, the bishops agreed to forward the curriculum guidelines. With regard to the curricula for Catholic religious education in secondary vocational schools, the bishops anticipate that after they accept said program, the Ministry of Science and Education will accept the program for the next school year.

There was also discussion on providing assistance to Croatian Catholic communities outside the Republic of Croatia. To the extent possible, the bishops will reach out to those in need and demonstrate their solidarity.

The bishops were also presented with a proposal for pastoral ministry to veterans, members of their families and victims of the Homeland War. The bishops recognized the ongoing efforts by many priests, religious and lay persons engaged in pastoral activities for Croatian veterans and considered possibilities for improving the organization and coordination of their pastoral ministry.

During World Youth Day, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from August 1 to 6, 2023, young participants from Croatia will be joined by the President of the Committee for Youth of the CCB, Bishop Tomislav Rogić of Šibenik, and Bishop Roko Glasnović of Dubrovnik.

The bishops accepted the extensions of the mandates of the members of the Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy, Bishops Zdenko Križić, who is also the President of the Commission, Ivan Šaško and Tomislav Rogić, and appointed Bishop Ivan Ćurić as a new member. They also renewed the mandate of the Archdiocesan Steward, Fr. Šimun Šindija.

The presidents of individual commissions, councils and committees of the CCB submitted reports on their activities since the previous session.

At the end of the first day of the session, Tuesday, April 18, the members of the CCB attended a formal commemoration held at the Vijenac Auditorium in Zagreb of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Croatian Catholic Radio and the thirtieth anniversary of IKA Zagreb—The Croatian Catholic Press Agency, two components of the Croatian Catholic network.

Secretariat of the CCB