Saturday, 2 May 2020

Easing of Measures for Religious Services Doesn't Mean Less Caution

ZAGREB, May 2, 2020 - The head of the Croatian Bishops' Conference, Zadar Archbishop Želimir Puljić, on Friday expressed satisfaction with the relaxation of some restrictive measures for religious services involving worshippers.

He, however, warned that making the measures less stringent does not mean that participants in the services should be less alert to the threat of the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, the bishops of the Croatian Conference of Bishops issued a letter to priests and the faithful on the conducting of Masses and other liturgical celebrations during the COVID-19 epidemic, which stated, among other things, that each bishop would adopt specific provisions for his diocese, based upon the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the Croatian Catholic news agency IKA reported.

"In regard to the prevention of contagion, caution and the safeguarding of human health, we, the bishops of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, urge all of you, dear brother priests and all of you, dear faithful, to continue to adhere to the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health on physical distancing, enhanced personal hygiene, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of common areas, and monitoring personal health, which will be published and concern church premises and religious gatherings. This is a matter of expert opinions and recommendations, which must be taken seriously by all of us, respected and conscientiously followed," the bishops say.

Thanking all those who have cared and continue to care for the health of our citizens, the bishops thanked priests and the faithful, "for having responsibly accepted and complied with the Directives of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, issued on March 19, 2020, with regard to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19."

"With your discipline and sacrifice, you have demonstrated Christian responsibility for the common good and helped prevent the pandemic from spreading to more people in Croatia, in order to avoid overburdening the health care system and prevent greater suffering and dying, unlike the case in some other countries," said the bishops.

On Friday, Archbishop Puljić called on the faithful to adhere to preventive measures.

For instance, during the sacrament of confession, priests and believers are supposed to wear protective masks.

Also believers with symptoms such as cough and a higher body temperature are advised to refrain from attending Masses in places of worship

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

Monday, 13 April 2020

Charges Pressed Over Assault on Journalists in Split

ZAGREB, April 13, 2020 - Split police have pressed criminal charges against three men who assaulted a female journalist and a camerawoman on Sunday as they were trying to record Easter Mass in a local church, held despite a ban on gatherings because of COVID-19, as well as a misdemeanour charge against a 70-year-old man.

A report on the incident has been sent to the State Inspectorate, the Split-Dalmatia County civil protection authority and the Split-Makarska Archdiocese, the county police said in a press release on Monday.

Four men have been criminally investigated in connection with the assault on the female journalist in the church in the Sirobuje suburb and a subsequent disturbance of the peace and prevention of journalists from doing a public service.

The county police said the journalist sustained light injuries in the attack.

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

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Interior Minister Slams Attack on Journalist in Split Church

ZAGREB, April 12, 2020 - The head of the national civil protection authority, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, on Sunday condemned in the strongest terms today's assault on a journalist in a church in a Split suburb who, he said, was attacked only for doing her job.

"The reporter was assaulted in a church on the biggest Christian holiday only because she was trying to do her job," he said at a press conference, adding that the police were taking action.

He said that according to reports from local news websites, about 20 believers gathered in the church in Sirobuje despite a ban on such gatherings for epidemiological reasons and that local authorities were notified.

According to those reports, the journalist was pushed away, her mobile phone, on which she was streaming the gathering, was taken and her arm was pinned with the church door.

Božinović said police had also begun a criminal investigation into two men arrested for assaulting and injuring the journalist. They were arrested for using force against a person doing a job of public interest and for damaging another person's item, he added.

The minister said the situation after a previous gathering in the church in question had calmed down and that the police did not know that another Mass would be celebrated at 10 a.m. today.

He said he had asked the head of the Split-Dalmatia County civil protection authority to prevent more gatherings there, and that the police would do their job about today's incident.

Believers started gathering at the church in question also on Palm Sunday but dispersed after the police asked them to return home.

The Sirobuje parish priest, Josip Delaš, told Hina on that occasion that he had asked the faithful to come to Mass because he felt that they could stand two metres apart from each other, as ordered by the national civil protection authority.

The Split-Dalmatia Archdiocese today apologised for the behaviour of Delaš who, despite the ban, celebrated Easter Mass, and distanced itself from his statements and views.

It said in a press release that the attack on the journalist did not contribute to a Christian celebration of Easter and apologised to "everyone who was shocked by Father Josip's conduct."

The journalist who was attacked was Živana Šušak Živković of the Dalmatinski Portal website. An unidentified person hit her on the arm, causing her to drop the mobile on which she was recording Mass. A little over ten believers were in the church and stood apart.

According to journalists who were there, the person who hit Šušak Zivkovic and Delaš hurled insults at them.

Celebrating Mass on Palm Sunday despite the ban on religious gatherings because of COVID-19, Delaš verbally attacked and cursed a police officer in plainclothes, for which he was charged with a misdemeanour.

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

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Archbishop of Zagreb: This Is Time to Distinguish What Is Essential

ZAGREB, April 12, 2020 - The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, said in his Easter message on Saturday that the current experiences underlined truths about man and the world, that people could not have absolute control over creation, and recalled the pope's words that this was a time to distinguish what was essential.

The time preceding this Easter has been remarkably unusual because we live the spread of a disease which affects our country and the whole world and which has brought the regular course of life to a halt as well insecurity, Cardinal Bozanić said in his message via electronic media.

The people of Zagreb and its environs, he added, feel increasingly threatened and uneasy after the devastating earthquake on March 22.

Bozanić recalled Pope Francis's words that this is a time to choose and distinguish what is valuable from what is temporary, to return to what is essential, what withstands life's every test and what is not subject to temporary destruction.

The cardinal said many people had already noticed that the coronavirus pandemic encouraged one to seek meaning.

Disease and disasters such as earthquakes clearly show that man is fragile, he said, adding that this fragility does not apply only to individuals but whole societies.

Bozanić called on the faithful to touch, accept and embrace through prayer those who are ill, their families, those affected by the Zagreb quake, healthcare workers and those who, he said, make it possible to live in difficult circumstances such as charity and social workers, the police, the military, firefighters, media and other services, as well as state officials and volunteers.

"We are called on to protect our own life and the lives of those we encounter, so I call on everyone to responsibly adhere to the instructions on conduct in this special time," he said.

The resurrected Christ encourages us not to be afraid and calls on us to be open to the future, the archbishop of Zagreb said in his message, among other things, wishing a happy Easter to all believers and people of good will.

More Easter news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

HBK: By Not Celebrating Mass with Worshippers, Bishops Are Protecting Life

ZAGREB, April 9, 2020 - The spokesman of the Bishops' Conference of Croatia (HBK) said on Wednesday that the bishops' decision not to celebrate Mass in churches with the faithful due to the coronavirus pandemic stemmed from the feeling of co-responsibility for the protection of life at all of its stages.

At the National Civil Protection Authority's press conference, the HBK spokesman Zvonimir Ančić noted that Holy Triduum would start on Thursday evening, describing it as the most solemn part of the liturgical year when Christians remember the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"This year, we are aware that the celebration is taking place in significantly different circumstances, due to well-known reasons," he stated.

Ančić said that the decision to cancel all Masses, sacraments, and most things pertaining to Church life, was one of the most difficult decisions Croatian bishops had ever had to reach, adding that it stemmed from the feeling of co-responsibility for lives of Christians and all citizens, and from respect for the competence of experts and civil authorities.

The spokesmen emphasised that the decision was reached because we had to take care of each other.

Ančić offered condolences to all families who have lost their loved ones due to the coronavirus epidemic. "To all of you who are following us and watching us I wish a happy and blessed Easter," he said.

Masses and other ceremonies have been broadcast on television and social media since gathering in churches was banned due to the outbreak of the infection.

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

Friday, 14 February 2020

Outgoing President Holds Ceremony for Decoration of Late Cardinal Kuharić

ZAGREB, February 14, 2020 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Friday posthumously bestowed the Grand Order of President of the Republic Franjo Tuđman with Sash and Morning Star on the former Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Franjo Kuharić, for his role as a moral authority in the Croatian nation.

Addressing the ceremony, President Grabar-Kitarović said that Kuharić had deserved this award for his efforts in the promotion of the Croatian cause and the state and national unity.

In this context, the president underscored the exemplary roles played by both Cardinal Kuharić and President Tuđman whom she described as two great men.

The decision on awarding this new grand order to Kuharić was announced on 10 December when Croatia observed the 20th anniversary of Tuđman's death.

"A country that respects and honours and can promote the legacy of its political and spiritual great men can have a safe future," the president said.

She recalled that Cardinal Kuharić was fully committed to the well-being of Catholic believers and every man as well as to the well-being of his people and homeland.

She praised the dignitary for his dedication to inter-ethnic reconciliation and ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

At the ceremony held in the office of the president, the award was received by Kuharić's successor, Cardinal Josip Bozanić.

Kuharić was born in Gornji Pribić in 1919 and died in Zagreb on 12 March 2002. He was an honorary member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He was ordained a bishop in 1964 and was named the Archbishop of Zagreb in 1970. In 1983, Pope John Paul II named him a cardinal.

Kuharić is venerated as a Servant of God. In 2012, ten years after his death, the current Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Bozanić, launched a procedure required by the Church to investigate the possibility of beatifying Cardinal Kuharić.

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

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

60th Anniversary of Death of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Commemorated

ZAGREB, February 11, 2020 - The 60th anniversary of the death of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac was commemorated with a Mass and a formal meeting of the municipal council in his native town of Krašić on Monday.

The events were attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, several government ministers and local government officials.

Mass was celebrated by Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar-Duvno, who said that "communist authorities feared Alojzije Stepinac more when he was dead than when he was alive because he was an intrepid defender of human and church rights, a resolute promoter of people's freedoms, while he himself was without external freedom."

After the Mass government officials laid wreaths at the monument to Stepinac and the faithful visited the memorial home where he died under house arrest 60 years ago.

At the municipal council meeting, Plenković pledged financial support for the renovation of the presbytery, a cultural heritage monument, and for other purposes relating to growing religious tourism in the area.

Plenković said that this was necessary because of the greatness of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac who knew how to stand up to the racial laws of the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime during the Second World War. "He was persecuted by communist authorities, but successfully defended the Catholic Church and its affiliation with the Holy See," he said.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Željko Reiner, said that Stepinac refused to abandon his people even when his life was in danger, when he was offered to go abroad and save himself from persecution and death.

"This is shown by the fact that on 4 June 1945 he declined Tito's proposal to establish a national Catholic church separate from Rome, which would have put a stop to persecutions of him and the Church," Reiner said, adding that for him Stepinac was a saint even before his formal canonisation.

More news about Alojzije Stepinac can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Plenković Again Invites Pope Francis to Visit Croatia

ZAGREB, February 6, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday invited Pope Francis to visit Croatia, expressing hope the visit would happen at the right time even though the pope usually visits smaller European countries without a Catholic majority, and as for the canonization of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, the pope's key message was "patience".

"I'm glad that we were received by Pope Francis today... I hope that he will visit Croatia at the right time," Plenković told reporters after meeting with the pontiff and the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

After the audience, which lasted about 20 minutes, the Croatian PM and the pope exchanged gifts, with Plenković giving the pope the crucifix "The Crucifixion of Jesus" by Damir Mataušić and the second volume of the Beram Breviary in the Glagolitic script. He received from the pope a medal with key messages of solidarity and cooperation and several books authored by him.

Asked by reporters if today they had again discussed the canonization of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, Plenković said that during their brief meeting they mentioned that topic as well.

"The position of the government and, I can say, the entire Croatian people, is that our expectations and wishes are well-known, there is nothing new about that. We expect the entire procedure to be completed within the Catholic Church, as it should. The message we received is 'patience'," said Plenković.

One of the topics of the meeting between the Croatian PM and Pope Francis was ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, notably in the context of two important events held as part of Croatia's EU presidency - a meeting with representatives of the Council of Bishops' Conferences of the EU and the Conference of European Churches, and the international conference "Human Fraternity - the Foundation of Security and Peace in the World", organised by the Muslim World League, the leadership of the Islamic Community in Croatia and the Croatian Bishops' Conference.

"I think that the message we have sent through our presidency is that we are not only using the very good model of relations between the Croatian authorities and the Islamic community in Croatia but that that model can serve as an example to other European countries," said Plenković.

Pope Francis also gave Plenković a copy of a document he signed a year ago with Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League who visited Zagreb earlier this week, with important messages on interreligious dialogue sent out in February 2019.

PM Plenković and Pope Francis also discussed topics related to Croatia's EU presidency and the pope's global role, given that Plenković today visited the Vatican, for the second time during his term, also in his capacity as the prime minister of the country chairing the EU.

Among those topics were the topic of migrations, ways of preventing illegal migrations and regulating legal ones, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, demographic challenges in Europe and joint efforts in fighting climate change.

Asked if they had discussed EU enlargement considering that the pope had visited Albania and North Macedonia, Plenković said that that topic had been mentioned as well, notably during the meeting with Cardinal Parolin, and that he had told them that the EU-Western Balkan summit, to be held in Zagreb in May, would send a strong message to neighbouring countries regarding the prospect of their EU membership.

This has been met with approval because we share the view that reform processes and the process of fulfilling the necessary standards can be encouraged only with a proactive policy and involvement, said Plenković.

He said that he expected the issue of opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania to be resolved ahead of the summit, notably after yesterday's report and proposal by the European Commission for a reform of the methodology of accession talks.

As regards Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was also discussed during the meeting, Croatia attaches great importance to relations with that country, notably with regard to the status of Croats as an equal, constituent ethnic group, he said.

"We have the Holy See's understanding regarding that topic," he said.

More news about relations between Croatia and Vatican can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Zagreb Archbishop Congratulates President-Elect Milanović

ZAGREB, January 9, 2020 - The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, on Thursday congratulated Zoran Milanović on being elected President of Croatia, stressing the importance of cooperation between Church and State in the interest of the Croatian people.

Bozanić expressed his best wishes to Milanovic in performing the duties entrusted to him, which include looking after the wellbeing of the Croatian people and all citizens of Croatia.

The Church and State are called upon to pursue cooperation and dialogue in promoting harmony, justice, peace and prosperity in the Croatian society, he added.

"This dialogue strives to strengthen mutual respect and understanding as well as to prevent or rectify any misunderstandings, always bearing in mind the same interests, those being people, especially those most vulnerable, and the common good," the archbishop said in his message.

"On the generally accepted and firm foundation of the Croatian identity, which is characterised by a rich tradition imbued with Christianity, it is possible, without fear or a feeling of being threatened, to foster freedom and the beauty of a diversity of opinions, views and creative life, and an openness to cooperation and friendship with all nations," Bozanić wrote.

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

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Presidential Candidate Katarina Peović Calls for Termination of Vatican Agreements

ZAGREB, December 18, 2019 - The presidential candidate of the Workers' Front and Socialist Workers' Party, Katarina Peović, on Wednesday called for termination of the Vatican agreements saying that they are in gross violation of Croatia's secularity.

She said that over 1 billion kuna (135 million euro) was allocated from the budget to the Catholic Church annually, while the government was claiming there was no money to increase nurses' wages.

"That amount is much higher than 1 billion kuna because there are also non-transparent allocations by local government. For example, Mayor Milan Bandić has set aside 500,000 kuna (67,500 euro) from the City of Zagreb budget to move a cross a few metres away at the Hipodrom (horse racing venue)," Peović told a press conference outside the Croatian Bishops' Conference building.

Peović said that the Vatican agreements had been signed without public consultation, which is against basic democratic standards. She said that terminating these agreements would not be easy, but that Croatia should start running a sovereign and autonomous policy for the benefit of the state, the national economy and the people.

"The actual amounts being allocated to the Church can only be speculated about because the Church does not submit any financial reports," Peović said.

More news about Katarina Peović can be found in the Politics section.

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