SDP Seeks Changes to Vatican Treaties with Catholic Church

Total Croatia News

The initiative does not seem likely to succeed.

SDP, the main opposition party, will seek a revision of the so-called Vatican treaties, it has been confirmed by Rajko Ostojić, a member of the party presidency, reports on April 19, 2018.

The SDP parliamentary group is working on an interpellation to demand from Andrej Plenković’s government to change the existing Vatican treaties. Since the party expects that its demand will be rejected, it wants to launch an advisory referendum.

“This is primarily a matter of concern for the state and the people. The state is changing; the world is changing, even the Church is changing. Therefore, it is time to change the Vatican treaties. It is unbelievable that the Church is receiving grants from the state budget which are worth hundreds of millions of kuna a year, but we do not know how the money is being spent, despite living in an era of transparency. This is similar to the issue of the Istanbul Convention ratification, and also of the law on the medically assisted reproduction, which I prepared as the health minister in 2012 and was then strongly criticised by the Church. They told me that I was pushing a law that would legitimise the killing of children, but that law is now acceptable for current Health Minister Kujundžić,” said Ostojić.

SDP has received an explanation from the constitutional law experts that a binding referendum is not possible since the Constitutional Court would not allow it, so they will seek an advisory referendum instead. The Vatican treaties have been signed by two states, and only the parliament can request changes, which would require a consensus to be reached.

With the advisory referendum, SDP is seeking the support it believes it can get from the centre and leftwing parties. “Many believers would also support a referendum because the Church is also changing. The referendum would also help us with the issues concerning religious education in schools, and culture and science,” he said.

Asked whether they would seek a complete abolishment of the state financing of church organisations or just a reduction of the grant, Ostojić said that the final proposal is still being discussed. “We are a secular state; there is no doubt about it. The revision of the Vatican treaties is at the very top of SDP’s priorities,” he concluded, adding that the interpellation would be sent to the parliament soon.

If SDP were to succeed in organising a referendum on Vatican treaties, it would be an unprecedented form of political struggle for the Social-Democrats and a significant step by SDP towards the secularisation of a society, which was avoided by former party president and Prime Minister Zoran Milanović. He used to claim that “treaties must be respected.”

Thanks to the Vatican treaties, which were signed at the time of an HDZ-led government in the 1990s, the Church has received at least two billion kuna in the last three years.

Translated from (reported by Oriana Ivković Novokmet).


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