Thursday, 10 January 2019

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb is Orthodox, Google Mistakenly Says

A monumental Serbian Orthodox church in medieval style built between 1931 and 1940 – this is how the St. Mark’s church in Zagreb’s the Upper Town, the oldest church in Zagreb and one of the symbols of the Croatian capital, is described by Google Maps, a digital network of maps used by virtually all Internet users, including many of the tourists who visit Zagreb, reports Večernji List on January 10, 2019.

Not surprisingly, many of those who decide to look for St. Mark's church have been angered by this somewhat inaccurate sentence. Some of them have left their comments, accusing Google of provocation and ignorance. Some have reported the problem, others wrote to the company’s headquarters, and some even concluded that this is someone’s joke.

However, despite numerous critical comments, Google has not yet corrected the misinformation. Comments show that it is at least several months old, and the number of angry users is getting larger. Almost not a day passes without someone writing a comment. “You can clearly see the Croatian coat of arms on the roof of the church which has great significance for the Croatian people. It is strange that Google did not check this claim, and they say they check and remove fake reviews,” says one of the comments.

Google knows about the problem and is working on it, says Grayling, a PR agency which provides services to Google in Croatia. Its employees have also reported inaccurate information.

 100119 St. Mark's Church2

“Different types of data found on Google Maps come from different sources. Our basic map data, such as site names, boundaries and road networks, are a combination of information obtained from third parties, public sources and users themselves. All in all, this allows for very comprehensive and updated maps, but we realise that occasional irregularities may occur. While we regularly update the map, the time it takes to update can vary,” says Google, adding that users can also edit the content. But this is not the case with the sentence related to the St. Mark’s church.

Many have attempted to correct the inaccurate information, but when they clicked on the suggestion option, they could change the location, category, object name, contact and Web address associated with St. Mark's church, but not the description of the building.

“This is an option that must have been set up by someone who has placed this information on Google Maps. But Google knows who wrote it since they trace IP addresses from which the information is written,” said IT expert Nikola Protrka.

The description is accompanied by the correct Zagreb Archdiocese website, which said that they had contacted customer support in London and started solving the problem. The Zagreb Tourist Board agrees that the inaccurate information should be corrected as soon as possible, especially since St. Mark's church is one of the most popular attractions that tourists always visit during the Upper Town tours. They are fascinated that the church has been standing there since the 13th century. It received its well-known roof in the 19th century.

More news on Zagreb can be found in our special section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija).

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Croatian Politics 2018: A Year in Review

Years pass, but some things never change in Croatian politics. The year which is about to end has again been full of drama and scandals, and just occasional good news. Remarkably, many of the same issues which you will read about here have featured prominently in our reviews for 2016 and 2017 as well, which just shows that most problems in Croatia are just swept under the rug and never solved. What follows is Croatian Politics 2018, a review of events which will be remembered from the past year, as reported by TCN.

The year began with tensions in the Bay of Piran, part of the Adriatic Sea which Croatia and Slovenia both claim. In late 2017, Slovenia decided to implement the decision by arbitration tribunal which awarded Slovenia most of the bay. However, Croatia has refused to accept the decision, saying that the arbitration process was compromised by Slovenian government representatives who were in collusion with a supposedly independent arbitrator. The tensions raged for a few weeks, with MEPs proposing military solutions and war veterans talking about organising a rather provocative regatta. Eventually, reason prevailed, and the tensions died down. However, the issue is still unresolved, despite assurances to the opposite, with Croatia calling for negotiations and Slovenia insisting on the implementation of the arbitration decision. You are sure to read about this dispute in our 2019 review as well, particularly given Slovenia’s decision to file a lawsuit against Croatia.

Relations with Serbia are always in the focus of interest, and this year was no exception. In January, the government was surprised to hear that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović had invited Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to visit Croatia officially. After a short argument over who is really leading Croatia’s foreign policy, Vučić arrived in Zagreb. While the visit mostly went well, the relations between the two countries deteriorated steadily throughout the year and the debate about whether Vučić should have been invited at all continued. Another turn for the worse took place in April when a Croatian parliamentary delegation’s visit to Belgrade was cut short after an incident in the Serbian parliament caused by a notorious Serbian MP and war criminal Vojislav Šešelj. Tension rose again in August when the anniversary of Operation Storm is traditionally celebrated, marking Croatia’s liberation of previously occupied territories in 1995. Serbian President Vučić gave a series of provocative statements, including comparing Croatia to Hitler.

As for the economy, January brought the first worrying signs about the future of Croatian shipyards, a low number of new orders, and about the government’s apparent unwillingness to continue to cover shipyards’ losses. Later in the year, the crisis in the Uljanik shipyard in Pula and its 3. Maj branch in Rijeka would feature prominently in our reporting. Workers spent months striking due to unpaid wages. As the year ends, the situation is still dire and “strategic partners” which the government hopes to find are nowhere to be seen.

“Reforms” is one of the most popular words of Croatian politicians. Every year in January we can hear officials saying that the year ahead is “the year of reforms” which will make Croatia much more prosperous. Needless to say, these promises are never fulfilled, and 2018 did not disappoint. The issue served the president well since she was able to attack the government for lack of reform efforts whenever it suited her.

Ideological debates and historical revisionism attempts continued in 2018 as well. In February, the government-appointed historical commission published its recommendations on issues related to the authoritarian regimes from Croatia’s past, but the conclusions did not satisfy anyone, except for the prime minister, who likes to pretend that the recommendations have solved the problem.

The year which is about to end has again brought us the problem of censorship, questions about media freedoms, warnings about the rise of the far right, separate commemorations held in Jasenovac, the parliament refusing to sponsor anti-fascism events, people destroying flower beds because they reminded them of communism, historical revisionism on the public television, assaults on journalists, satirists receiving death threats, “suspect” politicians being assaulted, photos of Tito slipping from under Croatia’s coat of arms, former prime ministers being sentenced for corruption, and media regulators receiving death threats.

The Catholic Church is undoubtedly part of the political life in Croatia, so it is no wonder that rumours about changes coming to its leadership draw considerable attention. While nothing has been confirmed, it is expected that the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, could be replaced in the new year. In the meantime, the church has continued to receive vast amounts of money from the state budget, meddle in politics, as well as advise the government on the new abortion law, 

The demographic crisis continued, with high emigration and low birth rates bringing down the number of inhabitants. The president and the government argued about who and what was to blame. The president even presented her measures to solve the problem, which were soon forgotten, and demanded a special session of the government, which never took place. Proposals were presented on how to convince people not to move, as many sectors faced a lack of workers, while many schools started closing down. The extent of the crisis was such that even Serbian President Vučić became "worried." The only “good news” came at the end of the year when reports claimed that the emigration wave was calming down because everybody who wanted and could have left already did.

One of the issues we write regularly in these annual reviews is the construction of Pelješac Bridge, which will connect the Dubrovnik area with the rest of Croatia without the need for travellers to pass through a short stretch of Bosnian territory. After many years of delays, the project has finally moved into the implementation phase. Early in the year, a decision was made to award the tender for the construction to a Chinese consortium, despite protests made by Bosnia and Herzegovina that the bridge could not be constructed before the border between the two countries in the area is defined. The decision to award the contract to a Chinese bidder also brought about a marked change in relations between Croatia and China, which were later further improved by high-level meetings and visits.

Another perennial issue is the future of INA, Croatia’s national oil company, which is owned jointly by the Croatian government and MOL, Hungarian national oil company. In 2016, the prime minister announced that Croatia would buy back MOL’s share of INA. Two years later, nothing has changed. Earlier this year, the government selected financial advisors for the buyback, but the contract with them was never signed. One of the main issues is the future of the INA refinery in Sisak. While in January the relevant minister said he was optimistic about the refinery’s future, by the end of the year he apparently changed his opinion. Another issue is Croatia’s arrest warrant for MOL’s CEO, which Hungary does not want to implement.

Another year has passed, and the supposedly “strategic” project of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk has again gone nowhere. Multi-year delays have continued. The government announced two tenders trying to find out who would be interested in using the terminal once it is built (if that ever happens), but the results were dismal. Just two government-owned companies applied, presumably after receiving a nudge from officials to send their applications and help the government avoid a total disaster. While the project receives verbal support from foreign governments, no one seems to be interested in sending binding offers to use its capacity.

One piece of good business news was the apparently successful conclusion to the worst part of the crisis in Agrokor, one of Croatia’s largest and most important companies. The agreement between creditors was concluded, thanks mostly to Russian banks, although not without an accompanying scandal about high fees paid to consultants, some of whom actually took part in the secretive process of writing the special law which the government adopted to save the company from collapse. The scandal took out Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalić and government-appointed commissioner Ante Ramljak, who had to resign under pressure. E-mails were published which showed that the prime minister knew more about the dealings than he initially admitted, but he managed to escape more or less unharmed. Agrokor’s former owner Ivica Todorić, who fled earlier to London to avoid arrest, was extradited to Croatia late in the year, after multiple delays and court proceedings. Even Tony Blair’s wife could not help him. He has since been released on bail and is currently awaiting possible indictment. The legal proceedings are expected to last for many years.

Good economic news brought us the first upgrade in Croatia’s credit rating since 2004. Unemployment numbers were also down, although more due to mass emigration than to economic revival. Good tourism results, especially in the pre-season and post-season, helped Croatia achieve planned economic growth for 2018 (still among the lowest in the EU). Slightly more moderate growth is expected in 2019, with the lack of reforms being the main culprit. The budget recorded another good year, with spending and revenues being more or less balanced, while the public debt has continued to decline. The year ended with another round of tax cuts and pension reform. Croatia has also announced plans that it will adopt the euro as its currency. The process is expected to last many years.

The ratification of the convention on preventing violence against women, the so-called Istanbul Convention, somewhat unexpectedly turned into a crisis for the government in April when a large group of HDZ MPs decided to vote against the proposal, despite prime minister’s insistence that it should be ratified. While the convention was easily adopted thanks to opposition support, it turned into another attempt by HDZ’s right wing to weaken or possibly topple Plenković as party leader and prime minister. Just like several other similar attempts, it did not succeed.

A national security issue which has drawn a lot of media attention throughout the year is the acquisition of military fighter jets. The decision was first delayed for years, then it was supposed to be made in 2017, but again delayed first to early 2018, and then beyond. After much lobbying, the government finally decided to buy 12 F-16s from Israel. The questions about the deal persisted, with many asking why Croatia was “rejuvenating” its air force with ancient aircraft. By the end of the year, the contract for the deal has not yet been signed, amid disputes between the United States and Israel about what equipment Israel can legally sell to Croatia. Grand plans about “strategic cooperation” with Israel also appear to be on hold. Defence Minister Damir Krstičević has invested a great deal of personal effort in the deal, but the acquisition is still in question, and its final fate is yet to be determined.

As expected, the political circus took a break in June due to the World Cup in Russia. While the break was initially expected to last just a couple of weeks, until the Croatian national team is eliminated in the first phase of the competition as usual, its spectacular success extended the political break to a full month and more. Of course, leading politicians did not miss this opportunity to travel to Russia and have their picture taken with footballers and fans. Needless to say, even this occasion, which was supposed to unite the country, brought divisions, primarily due to an appearance by a controversial singer at the homecoming ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

The Istanbul Convention ratification prompted one of this year’s two referendum initiatives to be launched. The other effort involved proposed changes to the election laws, which would substantially reduce the rights of national minorities to elect their MPs. The government was against the referendums, while the president seemed to be of a different opinion. While both initiatives claimed they had gathered enough signatures for the referendums to be held, the government checked the signatures and conveniently found enough irregularities to lower the number of accepted signatures below the required threshold. This was just one of several attempts to pressure the government from the right.

One of the rare reforms which have begun, at least nominally, is the reform of Croatia’s education system, the so-called “curricular reform.” The issue has caused conflicts between coalition partners, with HNS repeatedly threatening to leave the government if their proposals are not accepted. Their threats were not taken seriously by anyone since it is clear that early parliamentary elections would probably bring about an end for the party.

A scandal broke in September whose consequences are still unclear at this time. A ministerial driver was arrested under suspicion that he had informed a suspect about a police investigation against him. Interestingly, the driver is a close friend of Milijan Brkić, HDZ deputy president and Prime Minister Plenković’s chief intraparty nemesis. While Brkić has denied having any role in the scandal or leaking the information about the investigation, he has been conspicuously absent from public affairs in recent months. Other scandals involving Brkić have also resurfaced, prompting allegations that his opponents were trying to eliminate him politically. On the other hand, some potentially embarrassing documents about him suddenly disappeared. The scandal has even reached the president’s office, with the national security advisor resigning in December under still unclear circumstances.

Relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the connected issue of the status of Croats in the neighbouring country, were at the forefront of Croatia’s foreign policy efforts in 2018. With October elections looming, the year began with Bosnian Croats warning that the election law was unfair and that it could lead to a Croat representative in the Bosnian presidency being elected by more numerous Bosniaks. That is precisely what happened, with candidate Željko Komšić winning the post, although he apparently did not have the support of the majority of Bosnian Croats. This prompted Croatia’s government to launch a campaign within the EU to pressure Bosnia into changing its election law, which then brought accusations about meddling in internal affairs of the neighbouring country.

One of the potentially most explosive events of this year was a war veterans’ protest held in Vukovar in October. The veterans complained about the lack of prosecution of persons suspected of committing war crimes against Croats in the Vukovar area in 1991, which was a problem which they discussed earlier in the year as well. However, many believed that the protest was actually just a guise for a right-wing attempt to bring down the government led by moderate Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and replace him as HDZ president with a more extremist candidate. Plenković and his team appeared at first worried that the attempt might succeed, but with time they managed to limit its consequences. Once held, the protest passed without incident and has been more or less forgotten, except when occasional arrests in the area do happen, which then draw condemnation from local Serbs who say the police is arresting then just to satisfy the Croat war veterans. In the meantime, tensions in the town continue.

Throughout the year, rumours about impending ruling coalition reshuffle and/or early parliamentary elections continued. However, unlike in 2017, which brought about a change in the ruling coalition composition, with MOST being replaced by HNS, this year the government was more or less stable. One potential candidate for another reshuffle was Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, whose parliamentary group somehow manages to “convince” previously opposition MPs to switch parties and cross to his side. Numerous legal proceedings against him have not made him any less desirable patron. The substantial Zagreb city budget which he controls probably has something to do with it. In two years, he has managed to increase the number of his MPs from 1 to 12, with additional expansion of his parliamentary group expected early in the new year. The fact that people did not vote for his party did not discourage him at all. There are rumours that Bandić will use the increase in the number of his MPs, who are crucial for the parliamentary majority, to demand several ministerial posts in the new year.

As for the opposition, turmoil in SDP continued, with several attempts being made to topple the party president and “the leader of the opposition” Davor Bernardić. Fortunately for SDP opponents, these attempts have been unsuccessful, so Bernardić remains in his seat while his party’s popularity continues to plummet, with the latest polls showing it dropping to the third position, behind HDZ and Živi Zid. An increasing number of SDP MPs are leaving the party, with some of them joining the government ranks.

The migrant crisis continued, particularly on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the police employing ever harsher measures to control the borders and NGOs publishing increasingly critical reports about the alleged police violence and irregularities. The police have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, despite video evidence to the contrary.

The migration issue also brought us another controversy, this time with the signing of the Global Compact for Migration in December. President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who this year marked three years in office, initially supported the agreement, but then suddenly changed her mind, announcing she would not travel to Marrakesh where the UN conference was held. The government immediately said that Croatia would support the declaration nevertheless, which caused protests from right-wing circles. In the end, the non-binding resolution was supported by Croatia, but no-one really expects it will be implemented.

The final few days of the year brought us another major scandal, whose consequences will become clear in the following months. The president decided to dismiss her domestic policy adviser Mate Radeljić, who many believed had influenced the president to take a more critical position towards the government. After he was dismissed, Radeljić said he was threatened by a Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) official not to try to damage the president politically after being dismissed. He was allegedly told that the agency was ready to run into him with a car if necessary. The president’s office and the SOA issued statements saying they had acted legally, but interestingly they did not outright deny all of Radeljić’s claims. It is expected that Radeljić’s dismissal will result in better relations between the president on the one side and the government and HDZ leadership on the other, just in time for the presidential elections next year.

Another exciting political year is ahead of us. It will include at least two elections (for European Parliament in May, and for president probably in December), and there is always a possibility the early parliamentary elections might take place. Stay with TCN for all the latest political and business news.


Thursday, 20 December 2018

Priest from Hvar Charged with Sexual Abuse of Minor Girl

ZAGREB, December 20, 2018 - The Municipal Prosecutor's Office in the southern coastal town of Split has indicted a 72-year-old Roman Catholic priest from the island of Hvar for sexual abuse of minor girl under 15 and acts of indecency.

The indictment alleges that the priest, the victim's Religious Education teacher, abused the girl several times over a prolonged period of time. The trial is expected to open before the Split Municipal Court early next year.

Under the law, a crime of sexual abuse of a child under 15 carries a prison sentence of between one and three years, while an act of indecency is punishable by imprisonment of up to eight years.

After the case was reported to the authorities, the priest was given a restraining order and was ordered to report to the local chief of police once a week.

The priest, resident in Stari Grad, expressed his regret and asked for forgiveness in a letter to the family, saying he could not explain to himself what made him behave like that. He has been suspended and banned from performing any church services.

He was arrested in May and released pending trial. Police would not make the case public at the time, citing the girl's wellbeing.

The Hvar Diocese has expressed deep regret and sympathy with the victim and her family, saying that the bishop has imposed on the priest in question all measures provided under canon law in such cases.

More next on the Catholic Church in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Catholic Church in Croatia Wants Education to Promote Family Values

ZAGREB, December 19, 2018 - The Archbishop of Zagreb and head of the Catholic Church in Croatia, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, says in his Christmas message that it is parents who are expected to show their unequivocal standpoints and to help, through their Christian way of life, institutions in Croatian society draw up educational programmes for their children, underlining that educational and upbringing programmes and goals must not be in contravention with fundamental family values and that it is parents who have precedence over others when it comes to responsibilities and rights in bringing up their children.

In his message, he underlines that each man and each family has their special place in God's plans and warns that "in the current times of various reforms", it is crucial not to leave children and youth unattended on their life journeys.

If parents fail to assume this duty to care for them, many will try to step in, removing children from God and from the inherited cultural identity, offering them a deceptively shining world with void and anguish as consequences, the cardinal says.

"If upbringing and education prepare children and youth for the future life, and it is supposed to be that way, their implementation should then include all relevant institutions: the family, pre-school institutions, the society, the Church and cultural institutions," he says.

Recalling the warning by Pope John Paul II about the separation between the family and the society and between the family and the school, the Zagreb Archbishop says that it is parents who have priority when it comes to the rights and responsibilities in bringing up children. Therefore, it is important and desirable that the voice of parents be heard more strongly and more frequently in the ongoing school reform in Croatia, notably with regard to goals, contents and school textbooks, he added.

Facing the present-day challenges in bringing up children coming from the more and more globalised culture and society, mass media and new technologies, no one can be self-sufficient in preparing educational programmes, as the general welfare of the national community and future generations is at stake, he says.

The human being has primacy over knowledge, information, tools and competences. Man does not live only to be trained for the labour market. The life of every human being is more elevated, and being prepared for life is more demanding, he says.

More news about the Catholic Church in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Pope Francis to Replace Zagreb Archbishop Bozanić?

Croatian bishops have completed their visit to the Vatican. They were received as a group by Pope Francis, who also met separately with two bishops. One of them is the current Zagreb Archbishop, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, and the other is Bishop of Poreč-Pula, Dražen Kutleša. The meetings follow months of rumours that Cardinal Bozanić will leave his post and that Kutleša is his most likely replacement, reports Večernji List on November 19, 2018.

“This confirms everything that could be heard even before the bishops went to Rome, which is that Cardinal Bozanić could leave his post by Easter,” say church sources.

Rumours about Bozanić’s departure started shortly after he became the archbishop in 1997, with many believing that the post was just a stepping stone for his Vatican career. A year and a half ago the rumours got louder when Cardinal Bozanić virtually completely withdrew from the public activities due to illness. Since the illness coincided with the news that he and six other cardinals allegedly had about 25 million kuna deposited on an account at the Vatican Bank, many linked this issue with his possible departure. The arrival of Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Croatia a year ago just reinforced the rumours, with sources claiming that he came to Zagreb to dismiss Bozanić. However, nothing happened.

Cardinal Bozanić's health got better, so he began to appear in the public more. However, the rumours about his departure did not cease. An affair with Church property earlier this year restarted the rumours. The names of bishops who could replace Bozanić as the Zagreb Archbishop began to circulate. One of the potential candidates mentioned at the time was the bishop of Poreč-Pula.

Sources now agree that it is possible that Pope Francis has offered to Cardinal Bozanić a position as the head of one of Vatican’s congregations, which has been mentioned as a possibility for some time. “That outcome is also possible. First, it was rumoured that he would leave due to illness, but this option was also open. We will see very soon,” said a source.

Another topic of interest for the Catholic Church in Croatia is the canonisation of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. Pope Francis did not give a concrete answer to Croatian bishops about the issue. Asked about Stepinac’s canonisation, the president of the Croatian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop of Zadar Želimir Puljić, answered that the Pope said that he hoped Croatia would soon get a new saint, which shows that the issue of the canonisation of Cardinal Stepinac is still open, most likely due to the question of relations with the Orthodox Church.

Therefore, all those who expected to hear the definite date for the canonisation will have to wait a bit more, just like we will all have to wait for the official confirmation about the possible departure of Cardinal Bozanić and the arrival of a new Zagreb Archbishop.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Darko Pavičić).

For more on the Catholic Church in Croatia, click here.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Speaker of Parliament Jandroković Meets with Vatican Officials

ZAGREB, November 18, 2018 - The best response to the current global challenges are multilateralism and strengthening of democracy, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said after his meeting with Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State Paul Gallagher in the Vatican on Saturday. The two officials discussed the situation in the region and the world.

Jandroković said that excellent bilateral relations were confirmed at the meeting. "I once again thanked the Holy See for everything it has done for Croatia since we gained independence. The Vatican was one of the first countries to recognise Croatia and it supported Croatia during the Homeland War and on its journey to the European Union," Jandroković said after the talks.

He told the press the talks also focused on Croatia's neighbours. "I expressed my concern about the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also said that Croatia was interested in EU enlargement and we are prepared to assist our neighbours who aspire to join the bloc," Jandroković said.

He reiterated that the Croatian people wanted to see Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac canonized as soon as possible and once again extended an invitation to the Holy Father to visit Croatia.

Talks were also focused on the global state of affairs, international issues and challenges. "We agreed that the best response to all global threats is strengthening multilateralism, strengthening of democracy as a response to growing populism and, of course, dialogue between countries, between nations who are the only ones that can resolve problems. Violence and wars must be avoided at all costs," Jandroković said.

There were no concrete talks about possible signing of implementation agreement for the Vatican Treaties. "This was not addressed today. We agreed that our relations are excellent, that we want to further develop them and that we have a high level of understanding and agreement on many topics, but we did not start concrete talks. This is the job for the executive government," Jandroković said.

During his two-day official visit to Italy, Jandroković met Senate President Elisabeta Alberti Casellati and visited the Pontifical Croatia College of St Jerome on Thursday.

On Friday, he held talks with Vice President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Maria Edera Spadoni and President of the Foreign and European affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies Marta Grande.

For more on Croatia’s relations with the Vatican, click here,

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican Gets Memorial Plaque about Croats

Croatian Catholic bishops are visiting the Vatican and they have unveiled a special memorial plaque at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica about the history of Croats and the Christianity, reports Večernji List on November 14, 2018.

“I hope. I am still looking into some things,” said Pope Francis asked by Croatian bishops whether Croats would soon get another saint. Croatian bishops, who are visiting the Vatican, have directly asked the pope whether Cardinal Stepinac would soon be canonized, said the president of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference Želimir Puljić. The conversation lasted for about an hour. Puljić had sent the Pope a written statement about the situation in the Croatian Church. After the Pope read it, they spoke cordially and openly.

Of course, they also discussed the issue of refugees and migrants. Pope Francis said people should accept the refugees in the numbers which can be integrated. “We need to have an open heart, an open door for the needy, but if there is no room and if it is not possible to integrate them, then we should be cautious, that is to ensure that people are received and that they can live,” said Puljić talking about Pope Francis’ opinion.

“We did not discuss the possible visit of Pope Francis to Croatia, but such things are discussed at other levels,” said the secretary general of the Croatian Bishop’s Conference (HBK) Petar Palić, adding that the Vatican treaties were discussed with the Secretariat of State.

In the St. Peter’s Basilica, in the presence of Croatian bishops, a memorial plaque about the connections between Croats and the Holy See was unveiled. The initiator of the idea was Jesuit Božidar Nagy. “The idea to put a memorial plaque in the St. Peter’s Basilica came about after I saw that Hungarians have as many as three memorials about their Christianity. In January 2013, I sent a letter to the HBK and presented the idea. After three months, I received a positive answer, but in three years nothing happened. In February 2016, I went directly to Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the rector of the St. Peter’s Basilica. He listened to my proposal and immediately accepted it,” explained Nagy.

141118 peter s basilica 2

“When I informed the HBK about my conversation with Cardinal Comastri in February 2016, I also sent them my proposal for the text, which included the most important events in the Christian history of Croatia associated with various popes. The proposal was then corrected, supplemented and changed by the HBK. Slavko Kovačić from Split translated the text into Latin and then in May 2017 the HBK sent the text to the Vatican,” explained Nagy.

The plate is a gift from the St. Peter’s Basilica to the Croatian Church and the Croatian people. It was made by the stone workshop of Fabbrica di San Pietro, which is responsible for maintaining the basilica. The plaque was produced in late 2017, and in January 2018 it was put into place. However, the plaque was then covered with a wooden cover.

The Croatian bishops decided to have the plaque unveiled now, in November, when they knew they were coming to Rome.

For more on the Catholic Church in Croatia, click here.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Silvije Tomašević).

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Religious Leaders Call for Better Dialogue in Croatia

ZAGREB, October 25, 2018 - The leaders of four religious communities in Croatia concluded at a round table discussion that religious and other prejudices as potential sources of hatred could be eliminated with the kind of dialogue that does not constitute only an exchange of information but is a real attempt to get to know one another.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Vatican’s Chief Diplomat Visits Zagreb

ZAGREB, October 12, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received on Friday the Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, and they talked, among other things, about the canonisation of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, the government said in a press release.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Vatican Praises Its Contracts with Croatia

ZAGREB, October 11, 2018 - The Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, held a talk in Zagreb on Wednesday on the 20th anniversary of the Vatican-Croatia agreement on economic matters, saying it should be interpreted in a somewhat more nuanced way than what a strictly practical interpretation allowed.

Page 6 of 14