Plenković Discusses Stepinac Canonisation with Pope Francis

Total Croatia News

The Croatian Prime Minister is on his first visit to the Vatican.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Pope Francis on Saturday during his official visit to the Vatican. Among the topics of their conversation was the canonisation of Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, and the Prime Minister invited the Holy Father to visit Croatia, reports Jutarnji List on October 7, 2017.

“Similarly to previous visits by Croatian officials, I have taken the opportunity to invite the Pope to come to Croatia, which would mean a lot to the Croatian people, to all those who respect him. My impression is that the visit will happen, and it is up to him to choose the most appropriate moment,” said Plenković.

After the meeting, the Prime Minister said the canonisation of Cardinal Stepinac was going well, in the right direction. “I would like for the Pope’s visit, which will happen, to be in that context as well. As for Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, we have talked about bilateral relations, about our existing relations and everything which is happening in the European context, which is happening in South East Europe, and about the important role of Croatia which needs to project its experiences and political stability to the neighbours,” said Plenković.

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 has established the special commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox officials who investigated his case and recently concluded their work. In Croatia, it is widely expected that Cardinal Stepinac will eventually be canonised.

As far as controversial treaties with the Holy See are concerned, Plenković said that Croatia would respect them because they “regulate our relations well.” Many say that the treaties, signed in the 1990s, give too many rights to the Catholic Church, especially with regards to the financial support which the state pays each year from the budget to the Church.

As announced by the Croatian government, Plenković presented the Pope with a bronze statue of St. Joseph with Jesus, made by Croatian sculptor Stipe Sikirica. “Pope Francis served his first papal mass on the day of St. Joseph on 19 March 2013, and he is especially fond of this saint. 330 years ago, the Croatian Parliament unanimously declared St. Joseph to be the heavenly protector of the Croatian kingdom and Croatian people,” explained the government.

The Holy Father gave Plenković a sculpture of an olive branch.


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