Croatia’s “Globus” weekly in its latest issue brings a story from journalist Darko Hudelist, about whether Pope Francis will canonize Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac during his pontificate, reports Jutarnji List on March 14, 2017.
Here are the highlights of his report:
Most people with whom the reporter spoke during the past week do not believe that Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac will be canonized during the current pontificate of Pope Francis. One well-informed Vatican insider said: “I think that the current Pope will not make the final decision, but will delay it. He took upon himself quite a risky move, and now – whatever he decides – there will be protests. I think he is very aware of this. If he believes that there could be even more conflicts between the two churches [Catholic Church and Serbian Orthodox Church], he will not dare to decide either way. He is brave in many ways, but this would now be more political than ecclesiastical courage. I would be pleasantly surprised if he decided – one way or the other. In any case, he is unpredictable and he has his own style...”
Last Yugoslav Ambassador to the Holy See Ivica Maštruko also does not believe that canonization could take place any time soon. “The Pope does not want to provoke further confrontations, and he will likely delay the canonization of Stepinac. As for the joint commission of the two churches, there will be no common position, except that both sides will agree on the assessment about unacceptable conduct of the authorities in imposing the court sentence against Stepinac in 1946. Otherwise, both will remain anchored in their positions”, said Maštruko.
Fr Bono Zvonimir Šagi is firmly convinced that Stepinac will be canonized – whenever, even if it happens in a more distant future – but he admits that Pope Francis, after the joint commission tells him its views, may wait to make the decision “forever”.
Former Croatian Ambassador to the Holy See Filip Vučak said that, during his farewell audience with the Pope in October 2015, he informed Pope Francis about reactions in Croatia regarding the delay in the canonization of Cardinal Stepinac, as well as about the possible exploitation of Pope’s generosity regarding the establishment of the joint commission. He warned that such moves could eventually lead to the worsening rather than to an improvement in relations between Catholics and the Orthodox, and also between Croatia and Serbia, which is precisely what the Pope tried to avoid by establishing the commission.
Other important insiders also believe that it is unlikely that the canonization could happen in a near future, but also warn that the work of the commission cannot be properly carried out within a year, particularly given the fact that members of the commission will in April see for the first time some specific historical documents related to the Stepinac case.
Alojzije Stepinac was the Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960. While the Serbian authorities claim that during the Second World War he cooperated with the Ustasha regime in the Independent State of Croatia, the majority of Croats consider him to be a saint who helped those who were persecuted at the time. After the Second World War, Stepinac was imprisoned by the ruling communist regime. Pope Francis has established a special commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox officials who are investigating his case. In Croatia, it is widely expected that Cardinal Stepinac will eventually be canonized.