He is one of nine new knights.
On Saturday, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Željko Reiner became a knight of the Holy Sepulchre. He said that the title of knight, which was given to him during a special ceremony at the Zagreb cathedral, was a great honour and also a lifelong obligation to provide support to Christians in the Holy Land and elsewhere, reports Večernji List on May 15, 2017.
“This is a great honour, my heart is full at the moment,” Reiner said, adding that the decision on whether he deserved the honour or not was made by those who decided upon it. He noted that the process which preceded the proclamation had lasted for three years, during which, together with other applicants, he underwent spiritual renewal courses once a month, and on several occasions he went to a convent for two to three days.
Reiner said that the title of knight was a major and lifelong obligation. “We have given certain vows and accepted obligations that we have to adhere to. However, these are obligations that have nothing to do with the other part of my life. This is exclusively related to spirituality, and not politics,” Reiner stressed.
The title is based on two aspects: one is the building of oneself and other people in the spiritual sense, and the other is care for Christians in the Holy Land, he noted. “Not only in the country of Israel and the sacred places there, but in a much wider area, because you see what is happening to Christians in the Middle East – they are literally disappearing, under some regimes they are even physically exterminated, and elsewhere they are in serious economic danger and they need help,” he explained.
This assistance needs to be concrete, and he has accepted that responsibility. “We are committed to financially support them. So, it is primarily a commitment, accompanied by honour,” he said.
Reiner is one of nine Croats, two of whom are priests while seven are lay people, who have been proclaimed knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The ceremony was held at the cathedral of Zagreb on Saturday, and the mass was led by American Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, the Great Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
The Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the Holy See. The Pope is sovereign of the order. It was recognised in 1113 by Pope Paschal II. Today, the order is estimated to have some 23,000 members around the world.
In the 1990s, Reiner was the Deputy Minister of Health from 1993 to 1998 and the Minister of Health from 1998 to 2000. In 2012, he became Deputy Speaker of Parliament. After the parliamentary elections in 2015, he became Speaker of Parliament for a few months, before being downgraded to Deputy Speaker after the most recent early parliamentary elections. He is a physician, a university professor and a member of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences.