Pope Francis Coming to Croatia to Canonise Stepinac?

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The decision is expected soon.

In the press release issued by the Holy See about the Saturday’s conversation between Pope Francis and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, it is said that they had discussed the work of the mixed commission of Croatian and Serbian experts who analysed the activities of Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. When Vatican press statements, in addition to the usual phrases about cordial conversations and good relations between the Holy See and Croatia, include references to specific issues, in this case the canonization of Cardinal Stepinac, this means that the moment for public announcement of the papal decision is near, reports Večernji List on October 9, 2017.

The statement says that they discussed the work of the joint commission of the Croatian Bishop’s Conference (HBK) and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), whose goal was “the joint re-interpretation of the character of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.” Two main points can be read from that sentence. First, that they wanted to reach a common position on Stepinac and, secondly, that perhaps a compromise has been found. What that compromise might be is not known. In any case, Pope Francis will undoubtedly notify the Serbian Orthodox Church about his opinion before it is officially announced, together of course with the Croatian bishops.

Plenković told reporters after the meeting that he got the impression that the decision about canonisation was near and that he repeated the invitation of his predecessors for Pope Francis to visit Croatia. As for the Pope’s possible visit, Plenković said that he “has the impression that this could happen soon, but it is up to Pope Francis to choose the most appropriate moment for it.” Of course, it is possible that the Pope would come to Croatia to official canonise Stepinac.

In the Holy See’s statement, it is also said that they exchanged opinions about other topics of common interest, such as “the future of the European project” and regional issues, “with special attention to the status of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Plenković also talked with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who announced his visit to Zagreb from 29 to 31 October this year. On 30 October, Parolin will bless the Great Hall (Aula Magna) of the Croatian Catholic University. It is possible that he will say something more about the potential papal visit to Croatia.

Plenković was asked by reporters whether he discussed the Croatian-Slovenian border dispute in the Bay of Piran during his meetings in the Vatican since Slovenian Prime Minister and President contacted the Vatican diplomacy about the issue. Plenković replied that Parolin asked a question about the topic and was interested to hear about the Croatian position. The Vatican does not want tensions between the two states that it recognised on the same day in 1992, before the European Union. Plenković pointed out that the Croatian side wanted this bilateral dispute to be resolved as soon as possible.

Translated from Večernji List.


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