The Prime Minister is travelling to the Vatican.
Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković will travel to the Vatican on April 7, where he will meet with Pope Francis for the first time, reports Jutarnji List on March 24, 2016.
The meeting between the Pope and the new Croatian Prime Minister was agreed on 29 February when Orešković met in Zagreb with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico. Shortly thereafter, the Vatican proposed the date for the visit. Topics of discussion between Pope Francis and Prime Minister Orešković will be the canonization of Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, migrant and refugee crises, the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, and the continuation of good relations between Croatia and the Holy See.
When it comes to the question of Stepinac’s canonization, a Croatian source claims that Orešković will advocate a position similar to the Croatian bishops. “It is only a matter of time before Stepinac is declared a saint. The Pope said that himself, but he wanted to make a gesture towards the Serbian Orthodox Church so that the issue would not be a source of tensions. The Prime Minister understands that”, explains the source.
When it comes to solving the refugee and migrant crisis, Pope Francis is adamant in his calls to European countries to open the borders and to fight against xenophobia. “On the one hand, we should help people who are in need, especially women and children, but we also need to protect the country’s interests, and I think that the Pope understands that”, said the source.
While it is common for the Pope to receive newly-elected world leaders, Croatian sources claim that the prompt invitation to Orešković is a recognition of Croatia. “This indicates that the Holy See recognizes the importance of Croatia due to its location and the fact that Croatia is part of the Western Catholic world. The attitude towards the Islamic community is also important since it can be a positive example of its integration into society”, said the source.
The previous visit of a Croatian Prime Minister to the Vatican took place in October 2012 when the then Prime Minister Zoran Milanović visited Pope Benedict XVI.