Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej said on Saturday that he was not pleased with the events which have been lately taking place in Croatia, since there was the impression that a defeated ideology was again finding a refuge and shelter in the region, reports Novi List on January 8, 2017.
The supreme leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who has a major influence on Serbia’s politics as well, said in an interview with the religious television station TV Hram (Temple TV) that memorial plaques and glorification of convicted persons in Croatia created an impression that, as he said, things which used to exist before were being repeated once again.
He spoke positively about Pope Francis, saying that the Pope was a man who explored the time, the nature and the mission of the Church in the world, and who was “aware of the events from the past which were committed by the Roman Catholic Church to the detriment of the whole of Christianity”. “He sees this and wants to remedy this situation”, said Irinej.
The Patriarch also said that his relationship with the Vatican was being hampered by neighbours with events which, according to him, his people remembered well and which represented a tragedy for his people.
Irinej stressed that these unfortunate events were still occurring and that they did not promote rapprochement and instead represented an obstacle. He added that Pope Francis recognized all of that, and that was the reason why he formed his commission to examine the role of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.
“Through our own commission, we provide historical facts which are undeniable, but it is their right whether they will take it into account”, said Irinej, adding that the position of Serbs was very difficult.
Alojzije Stepinac was the Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960. While the Serbian Orthodox Church claims that during the Second World War he cooperated with the Ustasha regime, 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.