Catholic Church Becoming Even More Involved in Politics

Total Croatia News

For the first time ever, the Catholic Church has crossed a line and become directly involved in conflicts within a political party.

There is no more dilemma. The Istanbul Convention will be ratified by the parliament, and its implementation into the Croatian legal system will not split either the government or HDZ. This round has been won by Andrej Plenković, the Prime Minister and HDZ president. However, his opponents are not on their knees. The fight will continue, and the rules have been permanently changed, reports Jutarnji List on March 23, 2018.

All Plenković’s opponents in the HDZ presidency and in the ranks of his MPs have now been revealed. It is clear who in HDZ tolerates him because there is no other option at the moment and who will try to bring him down as soon as an opportunity occurs. But, that is not the main issue. This conflict within HDZ will be remembered for something else. For the first time in the history of the Croatian multiparty politics, the Catholic Church has been directly involved in conflict within a political party.

The debate within HDZ in the last few days has little to do with the Istanbul Convention and its contents, but more with the issue of power. The Convention has been used just as an excuse.

Of course, the Church has always tried to influence politics. But, until now, the maximum which the bishops would dare to do was to use their Easter and Christmas messages to accuse various governments of creating problems in the country. Also, priests in individual parishes were used in pre-election campaigns, when they sent messages for whom the faithful should vote.

But, now the Church has crossed a line. In sermons, priests claim that the Istanbul Convention is not really a Council of Europe document to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Instead, they say that the Convention contains gender ideology (although almost no one knows what that means). Also, they have called on the faithful to join Saturday’s protests in front of the HDZ headquarters. Importantly, the Zagreb Archdiocese has given a “green light” to this call.

We are witnessing a new sort of activism from the Church, and the activism has the support of the Church leadership itself. It is quite clear that the Church is trying to influence the policies of the HDZ leadership. It was enough to listen to a speech made by former party official Drago Krpina a few days ago. His entire speech was focused on the Istanbul Convention, which served as a platform for him to turn against the current party chief Plenković. In his remarks, Krpina often quoted bishops and then added that he would not accept that HDZ did not take their views into account. “Croatian bishops have defended Croatian national identity for centuries, and they are still doing that today. I do not agree that their views are being ignored,” said Krpina.

His speech in Benkovac was in complete synergy with the activities of the Catholic Church and had the same goal, which is to shake up the current party leadership and let the Church lead in all ideological issues. By organising a protest in front of the HDZ headquarters, the Church wants to demonstrate its power to Plenković. If a mass of people gathers, which seems likely, the Church will show the breadth and depth of its influence.

In a country which is, according to its constitution, a secular one, the Church has in effect made clear that it wants to enter the political arena. However, it is probably not aware that this might also open some new topics for discussion, including its own position in the society. For now, there is just one parliamentary party which has a revision of the Vatican Treaties in its programme, but the relationship between the Church and the state could in the future become a topic for all the other parties, as well as for non-governmental organisations.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Ivanka Toma).


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