On Tuesday, Pope Francis said that history still has to be being studied before Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac can be declared a saint. In reply to a question by Večernji List reporter Silvije Tomašević while returning from visits to Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, the Pope commented on the discussions with the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding the canonisation process, reports Večernji List on May 8, 2019.
“There are historical issues between our churches. Some of them are old. For example, President of Northern Macedonia Ivanov told me today that the schism began in Macedonia. And now the Pope is coming for the first time to bring the schism together? I do not know,” said the Pope at the start of the conversation.
“The historical case is the canonisation of Stepinac. Stepinac is a man of virtues. The Church has announced this with his beatification. People can pray to him. He has been beatified. But at a certain moment in the process of canonisation unclear points appeared. These are historical points. And I, who needs to sign on the canonisation, have prayed, contemplated, sought advice and then realised that I needed to seek the help of Irinej (patriarch of Serbian Orthodox Church). Irinej is a great patriarch. And Irinej helped me. We established a historical commission together. We worked together. Because both Irinej and I are interested only in the truth, we must not make a mistake. What purpose would a statement of holiness serve if the truth is not clear? It would serve nobody. We know that Stepinac is a good man, but to make this step, I have asked Irinej for his help to do the truth. We are studying it. First, a commission was established to give its opinion. But now other points are being studied. Some points are being deepened so that the truth would be clear. I am not afraid of the truth. I am not scared,” said Pope Francis. This was the answer of Pope Francis regarding the situation surrounding the Stepinac canonisation.
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 communist regime. Pope Francis established a special commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox officials who investigated the case. In Croatia, it is widely expected that Cardinal Stepinac will eventually be canonised.
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