Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Will Croatia-Vatican Treaties Be Revised?

ZAGREB, February 6, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Wednesday she was not for revising the Croatia-Vatican treaties. A revision could set dangerous precedents in international law, unless both parties have decided that a revision should be made for certain practical reasons, she told reporters in Sisak before attending a prayer meeting.

The president said this was her first prayer meeting in Croatia and that she had attended many in the US. She said her address at the meeting would focus on the role of women in politics and the Church, adding that faith was "an important component of my life and a sort of moral compass."

"That's why I'll talk about the role of faith in the life of politicians and about ecumenical dialogue, which can be an example to us politicians of how to resolve issues through dialogue," the president said.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said in parliament on Wednesday that for Croatia to become a modern and progressive country, it needed to revise its agreements with the Holy See, adding that there was a need for a clearly defined model under which the Church receives money from the state budget.

"It is unacceptable that that model is currently determined by the number of parishes, which encourages the Church to establish new parishes even though there is no real need for that, given that the country's population, including the number of believers, has been decreasing," Bernardić said.

The Church should submit reports on how it spends the hundreds of millions of kuna of budget funds, the SDP leader said.

"The Church definitely needs help, but politicians should not be giving away budget money as they find suitable and to the religious communities of their liking. If someone is a believer, they should contribute to the Church from their own salary and pension, as is the case in Germany," Bernardić said.

The purpose of the SDP-sponsored motion to change the Treaties with the Holy See is to prevent discrimination against children based on religion, save money, make church spending transparent and ensure adequate payment for Sunday work, Bernardić said.

Commenting on a recent statement by the Bishop of Hvar, Petar Palić, about a growing religious illiteracy of young generations and his claim that "unlike in the apostolic times, when paganism was something outside of and opposed to religious communities, nowadays secularism has entered families and become a part of our lives."

"It is wrong to equate secularism with atheism because secularism does not mean a lack of or a ban on religion. Quite the contrary, a precondition for secularism is the existence of freedom of conscience and religion, the right to belong to a religious community, the right to change or leave a religious community, as well as the right not to believe and not to belong to any religious community," said Bernardić.

He also said that Religious Education in schools must be reorganised in such a way to make it the first or the last period so that children not attending RE classes are not discriminated against. "But, ultimately, we believe that religious education belongs to the church and not the school," he added.

Bernardić added that given that Sunday work could not be banned, the reason being that Croatia is a tourist country, it should be better regulated and adequately paid for.

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

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Pope Francis Names Croatian as New Apostolic Nuncio to Ivory Coast

ZAGREB, February 2, 2019 - Priest Ante Jozić of the Archdiocese of Split and Makarska has been named archbishop and Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire by Pope francis, the press office of the Holy See reported on Saturday.

Ante Jozić, born on 16 January 1967 in the Dalmatian town of Trilj, was ordained a priest in June 1992.

He has been included in the Vatican's diplomatic services since 1999 and has been working in the top-level diplomatic missions of the Holy See in India, Russia and the Philippines to date.

Jozić speaks Italian, Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, German, Russian, Chinese and Polish.

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

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Conservative Parties Worried about Christian Values

ZAGREB, February 2, 2019 - Representatives of the HRAST party and the Croatian Conservative Party (HKS), who organised the conference "The future of the Croatian and European societies" in Zagreb on Saturday, said that people in Croatia were banned from speaking about Christian values, which were treated as an ideology, as well as that politics currently prevailed over the Christian way of life but that European politics would change soon.

Noting that the conference focused on the importance of advocacy of Christian values, Ladislav Ilčić, leader of HRAST, which has one seat in the Croatian parliament, called for national unity, saying that it was necessary "given what we have achieved so far and given that we have seen that a large part of Croatia is against Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's taking a turn to the left, against marginalisation and attempts at manipulation regarding signatures collected in our referendum campaigns."

HKS president Ruža Tomašić, who serves as a member of the European Parliament, said that politics currently prevailed over the Christian way of life.

"The voice of the minority is winning; therefore, we must be a loud majority. We have become frightened, but we have nothing to be afraid of. We have our rights and will exercise them and show that we are not retrograde," said Tomašić.

Ilčić said that the coming elections for the European Parliament would reveal the real situation in Croatia and that European politics would change because the coalition between the European People's Party and the Socialists "has practically failed."

Tomašić said that she would not run in the elections for the European Parliament and would retire if the trialogue between the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament on fisheries was completed.

"But if the trialogue is not completed, I will have to go if people elect me. I want to finish the trialogue so that it does not end up in Italians' hands because that would spell doom for our fishermen," she said.

Attending the Zagreb conference was also Polish MEP Marek Jurek.

More news on the conservative movement in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Catholic and Orthodox Bishops Urge Faithful to Promote Unity

ZAGREB, January 18, 2019 - Five Roman Catholic and five Serb Orthodox bishops met in Požega on Thursday ahead of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and pushed for "joint statements in the Croatian public to encourage believers to promote unity above all national and political exclusiveness," the Croatian Bishops Conference said.

On Croatia's public scene, there are many negative views and ill-intentioned approaches as well as too much dealing with others' negativity while ignoring one's own, which divides people, creates mistrust and distances them from each other, the bishops said.

In a special statement, they mentioned the "grave plights of the Serbian and Croatian peoples and other citizens of Croatia in the recent past in wars, persecutions and killings caused by hate."

"We are aware that by accusing each other, manipulating the historical truth, interpreting wartime events for daily political purposes, insulting and humiliating on ethnic or religious grounds, we remain prisoners of the past and losers in the present.

We push for establishing the truth about the victims of World War II and of the 1991-1995 war in Croatia through scientific research and arguments, so as to stop speculation about the number of victims and giving them back the dignity they have as victims.

The dignitaries say, among other things, that they "deeply regret every innocent victim of any nation, faith or political view from our recent past."

More news on the religions in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Bishop Shoots a Man during Hunt

On Friday, the Bishop of Bjelovar-Križevci, Vjekoslav Huzjak, went hunting and wounded another member of the hunting party. The police have filed criminal charges against him for the criminal offence of endangering life and property by a dangerous act or means, reports Večernji List on January 15, 2019.

The hunting accident occurred on Friday morning at the Kraljeva Velika hunting site, in the area of Lipovljani. Bishop Huzjak (58), who is known to be a passionate hunter, participated in an organised and officially sanctioned hunt. According to a police statement about the incident, which did not identify the bishop, he and another hunter were some 90 metres from each other. At one point, the bishop fired a shot from his hunting carabine trying to hit a wild boar, but missed and instead hit the 64-year-old hunter in a thigh.

The wounded hunter was provided with medical assistance at the Dubrava Clinical Hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe bodily injuries that are not life-threatening. It was established that the bishop was not under the influence of alcohol. The police took the weapon which he used during the hunt.

Because of the criminal offence, criminal charges will be filed with the Sisak Municipal Prosecutor's Office.

Zvonimir Ancić, the spokesperson of the Croatian Bishop's Conference, confirmed that the incident had taken place.

After the news of an incident was published on the internet, the Bjelovar-Križevci Diocese said that the bishop was sorry about what happened and wished a quick recovery to the injured hunter.

“Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak participated on Friday in a hunt where the incident took place. The competent state bodies are carrying out the legally prescribed procedure at the end of which we will issue another statement. The bishop expresses his deep regret over everything that has happened and wishes a quick recovery to the injured hunter,” the Bjelovar-Križevci Diocese said in the statement.

More news on the Catholic Church in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Danijel Prerad, Darko Pavičić).

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, 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.

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).

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