Želimir Puljić, Archbishop of Zadar, Talks about Cardinal Stepinac and Meeting with the Pope

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When will Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac be canonized?

President of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference Želimir Puljić, Archbishop of Zadar, gave an interview to Večernji List on March 8, 2016, in which he discussed the meeting with the Pope and the issue of canonization of Croatian Cardinal Stepinac.

How was your meeting with the Pope?

Meeting with Pope Francis was held in a friendly atmosphere. He has demonstrated that he knows our mentality and recalled his many meetings with Croats who live in Argentina. He also recalled the first Croatian Ambassador to Argentina who was born there and went to school with his sister. And then he said that he had been recently visited by the new ambassador who speaks Spanish. He also recalled the meeting with the Croatian president who also spoke Spanish.

What did the Pope say about the canonization of Cardinal Stepinac?

He said he had first heard about Stepinac through his late father. As for the canonization, he explained that it had been delayed because the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej wrote to him saying there are some controversial things from their perspective. The Pope, therefore, decided to form a joint commission composed of members from Croatian and Serbian side that will look into the role of Cardinal Stepinac before the war, during the war and after the war. Their task is not, however, to discuss his sainthood because that has already been done by the Congregation for Canonization and Beatification.

Any word on when Cardinal Stepinac could be canonized?

I do not know the exact date. It is clear, however, from the conversation with Pope Francis and his Secretary of State Cardinal Parolino that it should not take long. Members of the joint commission have been named. The Holy See will appoint the chairman and the commission will start working.

Since this is a Vatican commission for cooperation with the Serbian Orthodox Church, it was expected that someone from the Vatican would take part, but all members are from Croatia?

The Commission is a working body composed of representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the one hand, as well as representatives from the Croatian side. From the very beginning, it was said that the pope wanted the commission to be composed of representatives of the two Churches.

How long will it take for the Commission to perform its task?

The work of the commission should not take long since its task is not to go into the merits of the process. During the talks, it has been repeatedly said that its task will be to jointly assess the role of Cardinal Stepinac before the war, during the war, and after the war.


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