Pope Francis to Replace Zagreb Archbishop Bozanić?

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Croatian bishops have completed their visit to the Vatican. They were received as a group by Pope Francis, who also met separately with two bishops. One of them is the current Zagreb Archbishop, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, and the other is Bishop of Poreč-Pula, Dražen Kutleša. The meetings follow months of rumours that Cardinal Bozanić will leave his post and that Kutleša is his most likely replacement, reports Večernji List on November 19, 2018.

“This confirms everything that could be heard even before the bishops went to Rome, which is that Cardinal Bozanić could leave his post by Easter,” say church sources.

Rumours about Bozanić’s departure started shortly after he became the archbishop in 1997, with many believing that the post was just a stepping stone for his Vatican career. A year and a half ago the rumours got louder when Cardinal Bozanić virtually completely withdrew from the public activities due to illness. Since the illness coincided with the news that he and six other cardinals allegedly had about 25 million kuna deposited on an account at the Vatican Bank, many linked this issue with his possible departure. The arrival of Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Croatia a year ago just reinforced the rumours, with sources claiming that he came to Zagreb to dismiss Bozanić. However, nothing happened.

Cardinal Bozanić’s health got better, so he began to appear in the public more. However, the rumours about his departure did not cease. An affair with Church property earlier this year restarted the rumours. The names of bishops who could replace Bozanić as the Zagreb Archbishop began to circulate. One of the potential candidates mentioned at the time was the bishop of Poreč-Pula.

Sources now agree that it is possible that Pope Francis has offered to Cardinal Bozanić a position as the head of one of Vatican’s congregations, which has been mentioned as a possibility for some time. “That outcome is also possible. First, it was rumoured that he would leave due to illness, but this option was also open. We will see very soon,” said a source.

Another topic of interest for the Catholic Church in Croatia is the canonisation of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. Pope Francis did not give a concrete answer to Croatian bishops about the issue. Asked about Stepinac’s canonisation, the president of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop of Zadar Želimir Puljić, answered that the Pope said that he hoped Croatia would soon get a new saint, which shows that the issue of the canonisation of Cardinal Stepinac is still open, most likely due to the question of relations with the Orthodox Church.

Therefore, all those who expected to hear the definite date for the canonisation will have to wait a bit more, just like we will all have to wait for the official confirmation about the possible departure of Cardinal Bozanić and the arrival of a new Zagreb Archbishop.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Darko Pavičić).

For more on the Catholic Church in Croatia, click here.


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