ARCHBISHOP ALOJZIJE STEPINAC IN THE DOCK

This year of 2021 the Advent begins on Sunday 28 November, and we prepare for the birth of Jesus. And in that preparation for the birth of Jesus I trust and pray that The Holy Father Pope Francis will reconsider the role he maintains the Serb Orthodox Church has in the canonisation of Croatia’s WWII Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac, Blessed Alojzije Stepinac since October 1998 when Saint John Paul II, then Pope, beatified him.

With this article I step back in the time of October 1946 when the Yugoslav communists (among whom was an overwhelming number of Orthodox Serbs) wrongfully convicted the Archbishop, wrongfully treating him, wrongfully accusing and convicting him and others so that the communist regime may do what it pleased and that sick “pleasure” was in mass killings of Croats who fought for independence as well as women and children and the elderly.

Hence, I have here transcribed an article from the renowned newspaper The Scotsman, drawn to my attention by Dr Esther Gitman, the historian who has performed thorough research about Stepinac’s many activities in rescuing Jews, Serbs and others from sure death in the whirlwind of political and aggressive madness of WWII. 

The Scotsman (1921-1950); Oct 18, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Scotsman

pg. 4

“An Archbishop in the dock

Trial of the Yugoslav Primate

By Patrick Maitland

“To reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and value of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women,” the United Nations signed the San Francisco Charter.

The above is the phrase in the Charter Preamble, to which Mr Dean Acheson, Acting U.S. Secretary of State, called attention last weekend with reference to the Zagreb trial of Monsignor Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb and Catholic Primate of Yugoslavia, on seven counts. “It is the civil liberties part of the thing which causes us concern,” he said.

The Archbishop was sentenced to sixteen years hard labour on charges of collaboration with the puppet Croat regime of the Ustashi leader, Pavelic, during the war, of responsibility for compelling Serbs, members of the Orthodox Church, to become Roman Catholics; of becoming Chaplain-General to the puppet Croat Army; of conspiring with Dr Matchek, the (now-exiled) leader of the Croat Peasants’ Party, with General Mihailovitch and others; and of issuing a pastoral letter on the eve of the Yugoslav  general elections last year, “falsely depicting the state of affairs in Yugoslavia and encouraging the Ustashi and other traitors to commit further crimes.”

 Mr Dean Acheson’s comment said the worrying aspects raised questions “as to whether the trial has any implications looking toward impairment of freedom of religion and of worship”; and he pointed out that, for example, the Supreme Court of the United States had always set aside as illegal all trials “in Courtrooms dominated by feelings adverse to the defendant by demonstrations of prejudice.”

No transcript of the trial has yet reached Britain, and one is eagerly awaited, for not only has the judgment provoked the first excommunication of the head of a State in more than a century, but this is the first occasion within recent years when an Archbishop has been brought before a lay court and so condemned on what amount of political charges.

The trial comes at a time when the world is looking for implementation of the Four Freedoms which are enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and when the Nuremberg Tribunal has set an all-time model for the dispensation of justice without prejudice.

TENDENTIOUS REPORTS

In the absence of a full report on the trial, it is worth noticing that agency reports from the Courtroom, and the reports issued by Tanjug, the Yugoslav official news agency, paint a fairly consistent picture. The Associated Press reported that a number of witnesses desired by the defence were never called. And the Archiepiscopal defendant was only one of several. It was a collective trial after the manner of that of General Mihailovitch whereat, also, the calling of a number of witnesses desired by the defence was ruled out of order.

The Tanjug reports would have brought an instant writ for contempt if they had been published in Great Britain during a British trial. Here are some excerpts: The defendants’ “witnesses mostly discredited the intention of defence counsel by the contradictory testimony … they were nonplussed when the Public Prosecutor proved” &c.: “Stepinac declared he did not want to answer questions put to him, in the first place in connection with the proofs of his criminal activities”; of a reference by the defence to alleged forced conversions: “Here Stepinac is using sophistry and verbalism … He did not speak of his Ustashi activity.”

Another day Tanjug incorporated into its report the phrases: “Despite all the proofs piled up against him” and made this reference to the “Caritas” organisation: “although it had been proved that the society was a lair of robbery.” Again: “The Judge dealt with Stepinac’s anti-national activities just before the liberation.”

No matter how grave the charges, the mere incorporation of these and kindred phrases in the report of the official news agency tends to bear out the implication of Mr Dean Acheson’s suspicion that the atmosphere in which the trial was conducted was hostile to the defendant.

ARCHBISHOP’S SPEECH

Mgr. Stepinac’s speech in defence has not been published abroad, save a few short phrases. It is fair to conclude that the foreign correspondents covering the trial, especially American correspondents writing for a Press which must cater for a considerable Catholic readership, tried to report this. The obvious conclusion is that the censor interfered. The Vatican organ. Osservatore Romano, however, clearly obtained at least some passages of the Archbishop’s speech, for it was able on October 5 to reproduce the following passage: –

“You speak of liberty and of religion in Yugoslavia and you say there is more liberty in the country than ever before. I reply that a great number of priests have been killed. You could have arrested them, but you have not the right to put them to death. The people of the country will never forget this. There has never been a greater scandal. Not a single bishop, not a single priest in the country knows in the morning if he will see the light of the next dawn. You ask for our loyalty and we ourselves are obliged to ask you to respect the least of our rights.”

That passage, coupled with those cited above from Tanjug account, give some idea of the tense atmosphere of the whole proceedings and how the trial was principally a test of political loyalties. While the trial was in progress the Press was forbidden to refer to any of Mgr. Stepinac’s deeds during the enemy occupation, when he is known to have given asylum to refugees of every race and creed who approached him. Among them were members of the present Government. Jews, Orthodox Serbs, Moslems, were repeatedly saved from death by his direct intervention. This much is known.

But the extent of the Archbishop’s personal popularity in Croatia can possibly be gauged from the fact that throughout the trial, the Zagreb churches were packed with people praying for him, and on October 2 the civil authorities banned assemblies of more than five persons outside any church. The ban is reminiscent of those attempted by Pavelich regime when, during the occupation, the Archbishop’s fiery denunciation of Nazi tyranny drew such crowds that he was compelled to preach from outside his Cathedral instead of within it.

“FORCED CONVERSIONS” 

Of the charges laid against the Archbishop, several are unsavoury. The most disagreeable was clearly the allegation that he had encouraged, or at the very least consented to, “forced conversions”. That many thousands of Orthodox Serbs living in Croatia were, in fact, compelled to join the Roman Catholic Church there is virtually bo doubt. But there is doubt about the nature of the force used. And a revealing letter reached the writer a few weeks ago from a Zagreb Serb giving a version hitherto unknown in this country. According to this source, the Pavelich regime issued decrees instituting certain civil disabilities for Orthodox, Jews and Protestants. The decrees constituted an inducement to the careless to abandon their church allegiance and join the Catholic Church with menial reservations.

This letter explains that the Orthodox Serbs of Croatia are actually deeply grateful to the Archbishop because he revised the formularies to which it is customary for a convert to assent in such a way as to make this nominal transfer of loyalty easier and less humiliating to those making the change from motives of security. To such folk, this writer asserts, the Catholic Archbishop was a hero and a protector.

This letter is not mentioned in any attempt to whittle away the evil of the practices which went on in outlying parts. In many parts of Bosnia the procedure was horrible and degrading. But the Archbishops defence has not been heard by the outside world, and this surprising tribute has been written from the centre of the crimes with which he was charged. It nay be worth adding that the Archbishop has been personally known to the writer over a period of years, and has always appeared a man of such deep sincerity that the charge of approving forced conversions would, on the face of it, seem monstrous.

A significant feature of the trial was the white heat of the propaganda with which it was surrounded. The writings and public statements made during the Mihailovitch trial are pale by comparison. The campaign was inaugurated by Marshal Tito hikself in a speech st Split on July 27. “All traces of an artificially produced dissatisfaction (with the regime) emanate from under the cassock,” he said. “To-day, sundry saints and miracles have come to the fore. Now what miracles do we need? We shall create these miracles ourselves by our own labour. Our people are no longer so stupid as to be duped by tales about saints and miracles. Let the saints remain in their churches where they belong.”

POLITICAL MOTIVE    

But the motive again and again appears to be political. For in another speech a few days later Marshal Tito revealed to this matter: “There are in Croatia, Serbia, and in other parts of the country priests among those men who are spreading discord among the people … Only a small part of the Catholic clergy goes with the people to-day; a far greater part goes against the people … They have again begun to spread hatred among Serbs and Croats.”

Reports which have lately reached London through uncensored channels – there is now a fairly steady flow of visitors moving back and forth – bring out a particular feature of the present situation. On the one hand, what the Serbs call the “repovi” – the “tails” of Yugoslavia – are generally speaking satisfied with the new regime. There is little talk of discontent in Slovenia, which is in a fair way to acquiring fresh territory in Venezia Giulia, and which is hopefully looking forward to the presentation of a formal claim to incorporate the Klagenfurt area of Carinthia.

The Montenegrins have little to complain of for they played a leading part in the National Liberation Movement from the start and have in general received a heavy share of the good jobs. The Macedonians in the South have won local home rule, and at least till lately enjoyed considerable freedom to defy the orders of Belgrade. Bosnia and Herzegovina have been flattered, likewise, with a degree of home rule. But from throughout Serbia and Croatia, which together must form the kernel of the newly federated State, constant if inarticulate opposition is reported.

It is purely a surmise, but available evidence and many straws in the wind suggest it, that the overall purpose of the Zagreb trial was to whip up Serb hatred against Croats – the cardinal weakness of the pre-war kingdom which enabled the dictatorship to prolong its tyrannical power.

Ina Vukic

Esther Gitman – Rebuttal To Serb Accusations Against Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

Blessed Alojzije Stepinac (L) Dr Esther Gitman (R) Darko Tanaskovic (Top C) Porfirije Peric (Bottom C)

The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Peric, like his predecessors, is not wasting time when it comes to attacking Blessed Alojzije Stepinac by introducing new, evidently maliciously twisted spanners into the canonisation works within the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, it would seem, is, when it comes to the canonisation of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, pursuing a road that abandons the declarations of the Catholic Church’s Pope John Paull II, now Saint, regarding Alojzije Stepinac and is looking to compromise the will and the truth of Catholics of Croatia in order to achieve some kind of unity with the Serbian Orthodox Church that has for decades persistently and politically used lies and half-truths to blacken Croatia and its Archbishop and Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. A few days ago Darko Tanaskovic, a member of the first mixed commission of Catholic and Orthodox representatives regarding the canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, said for Sputnik news in Serbia, among other things, that Patriarch Peric has some Stepinac letters for which he says that Stepinac should not be made a saint for Christian community! And this evidently personal interpretation and defilement of historical truth, for obviously political reasons, comes from a head of the church, Serbian Orthodox Church, that still to this day refuse to accept and acknowledge the leading role it played in Serbia becoming one of the first WWII a Judernfrei (Jew free) states in Europe!

New York based Dr Esther Gitman, a reputable historian specialising in Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac and the rescue and survival of Jews and others in the WWII Croatia has sent me her written response and reaction, a rebuttal to the above public statements made by Darko Tanaskovic and Patriarch Peric. Here is what Dr Gitman wrote.(Ina Vukic)  

Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac in the Historical Context by Esther Gitman, April 2021:

In face of one of the vilest attacks against Blessed Stepinac that is taking place only days after the new Serbian Bishop Porfirije Perić was chosen to become the successor to the Patriarch Irinej. To make his presence known, influential, and acknowledged as a true Serbian religious leader, he chose, as his predecessors did, to attack the memory of Dr. Alojzije Viktor Stepinac, the former Archbishop, and Cardinal of Zagreb who had passed away in Krasić, a place of his birth, of his house arrest, on February 10, 1960, 61 years ago. 

The question one may ask: Why Porfirije (Patriarch), so soon after his being promoted to succeed Patriarch Irinej, has elected, as one of his first tasks, to attack the memory of Alojzije Stepinac, with a hope to nullify the elevation of Stepinac to sainthood. The issue of Stepinac’s canonization was raised when Dr. Darko Tanasković, one of the participants, in the joint meeting in the Vatican, between Serbs and Croats re Stepinac’s conduct during the war years. Dr. Darko Tanaskovic, one of the Serbian participants,  reported to Sputnik- news that Stepinac’s chances of being elevated to sainthood are diminishing! Tanasković asserts that Pope Francis will not bring a resolution in favor of the Croatian side which would splinter the Christian world even further.

Tanasković, and I assume other Serbs, argues that it is absolutely clear that Stepinac supported the Ustashe. Tanasković further argues that Stepinac was a problematic figure and thus under no circumstances and under no criteria he can become a saint! He explains that it was important for the Serbian side to prove this point! He goes on to state that it is not clear yet to what measure Stepinac was a criminal and that he must have been aware of all the crimes that were committed against Serbs, Roma, and Jews, and although at some instances he was helpful, he never raised the issue of cleansing the Serbs via conversions to Catholicism.

After the war, Stepinac was indicted under the laws, on crimes against the people and the State, approved on August I5, 1945, and amended July 9, 1946. These laws were entirely the product of the new popular democracy in the process of formation in Yugoslavia. They constituted a complete break from the traditional past and rejected outright the usual procedures and guarantees contained in previous legislation. Moreover, the new laws, conceived along strictly political and communist lines, were drafted and put into effect after the alleged crimes committed by the Archbishop. In this way, the prelate was arrested and tried ex post facto, for offenses that were not criminal in the code in existence at the time of their supposed commission. 

The objective of this response is to rebut the accusations made against by Archbishop Stepinac for more than seven decades. And reached a crescendo with the rise to power of Bishop Porfirije Perić, I will begin with three memorable quotes uttered by Stepinac during his trial. He stated: 

“You accuse me of being an enemy of the government of the state and of the people of Yugoslavia. Please tell me what was my government in the year 1941? Was it that of the instigator Simović in Belgrade – the traitor, as you call him – the one in London, or was it You in the forests or the one in Zagreb? …We were not able to ignore the government here, even if it was a Ustaša regime.  Only since May 8, 1945, have you had the right to interrogate me and to hold me responsible. In summary, he declared…My conscience is clear and I’m not going to say any more about it. You can bring a thousand proofs, but you will never be able to prove a single crime against me! His motto was:  

“Only one race really exists and that is the Divine race. Its birth certificate is found in the book of Genesis. All of them without one exception, whether they belong to the race of Gypsies or to another, whether they Are Negroes or civilized Europeans, whether they are detested Jews or proud Aryans, have the same right to say ‘our Father who Art in Heaven.”   

The second quote: Hundreds of times during the trial I have been called “the defendant Stepinac.“ There is no one so naïve as not to know that with the defendant Stepinac” here on the bench sits the Archbishop of Zagreb, the Metropolitan and the head of the Catholic Church in Yugoslavia. 

The final quote: I was not persona grata to either the Germans or the Ustashe; I was not an Ustasha nor did I take their oath as did some of the officials of this court whom I see here. 

The question posed is one of the most delicate and serious nature, connected not only with modern warfare but with the entire problem of post-war Europe. Collaborationism has been used as a term of reprobation with incredible largesse. In most of the western European countries that knew the tragedy of occupation by Nazi Germany and their collaborators, hundreds of citizens have been accused, indicted, and sometimes imprisoned for collaboration, whose acts were very different from those of out and out collaborators or participants in the governments imposed by the invaders. What really constitutes collaboration in the case of the ordinary inhabitants is not always easily proved. Many post-war lawyers, including Ivo Politeo, Stepinac’s post-war lawyer argued that simply because one was not a resistance hero, does not make him ipso facto a traitor.

In this final segment, by no means all-encompassing, I will discuss briefly, the rules and regulations imposed upon Alojzije Stepinac while serving as an Archbishop of Zagreb during World War II (WWII). Some of these rules were imposed on him by the Roman Catholic Church and by the decisions of the European League of Nations. By understanding what was required of Stepinac during the war, many accusations levelled against him will have to be reconsidered. 

During the war the Archbishop of Zagreb was bound by the Church Constitution, “Solicitude Ecclesiarum; issued by Pope Gregory XVI in l831. This document was consistent with provisions of the 1907 Hague and 1929 Geneva conventions, which affirmed that: 

During a state of war, all legal power passes into the hands of the occupier, who is authorized and obligated to maintain public order and public life by demanding obedience of the inhabitants, with specified exceptions.”  

The Church’s Constitution directed the highest religious authority to enter into discussion with the occupiers commanded that in order to ensure the spiritual welfare and rights of its parishioners, church representatives should enter into relation and a conversation, with those persons who actually exercise power, in other words with the occupiers. These representatives, of the likes of Archbishop Stepinac, also had a duty to defend the rights of the Roman Catholic Church as they existed prior to the occupation. Under these obligations, Stepinac acted as his vows and the Vatican expected of him. He chastised the regime for daily violations of church ordinances, such as forced conversions of Serbs who had already been baptized, although he approved of conversions that were voluntary and undergone in order to save human lives. Stepinac also raised his voice against violations of human rights and insisted on preserving human dignity.

Historians who questioned his visits to Slavko Kvaternik and Ante Pavelic and, in fact, accused him of treason, did it either out of ignorance of what his duties vis-à-vis the occupiers were or wished maliciously to accuse him of cooperating with the enemy. But, in fact, they failed to consider the constraints under which Stepinac was obliged to act in his official role as archbishop.  Stepinac always abided by the Laws of the Church which coincided with his own conscience. 

The Vatican instructed Stepinac to be mindful of his words and conduct, in the interest of saving lives. He also raised his voice against violations of human rights and requested conduct that would preserve human dignity. Historians of the likes of Ivo Goldstein and many other Serbian historians and politicians questioned his visits to Kvaternik and Pavelic accusing him of helping the enemy while in essence, he was acting exactly as he was supposed to act in order to keep law and order and save lives. performing as was requested of him to act in his official role as an archbishop.  

Moreover, the Vatican instructed Stepinac to be mindful of his words and conduct in the interest of saving lives. This was especially of the essence after the Vigorous efforts to defend Jews by the Catholic hierarchy in the Netherlands, when in 1942 the Nazis rounded up all Jews, even long-time converts, including priests and nuns, and ended their lives. The Dutch bishops demonstrated great courage, but 79 percent of the country’s Jews, 110.000 individuals, were murdered. The Nazis were determined to prevent similar attempts of rebellion against them and attempts to rescue Jews elsewhere.

Both Croatian and German officials viewed Stepinac as Judenfreundlich-friendly toward Jews. Stepinac acknowledged that the Ustashe would be a liability to the humanitarian fabric of the Croatian society for years to come, and he detested the Nazis, Ustashe and the communists in equal measure. Stepinac emphasized the Christian principles of justice and freedom of the individual and nations…

With great sorrow, he wrote: The Croatian government would have to bear full responsibility for the growth of the Communist partisan movement. Because of severe and unlawful measures employed against Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies in imitation of German methods! 

I just cannot imagine that Pope Francis will ignore all the goodness Archbishop Stepinac has done during the war years! Yesterday was a Remembrance Day for all the Jews that have perished at the hand of Nazi Germany and their European collaborator. At some point during the memorial, my thoughts drifted to Archbishop Stepinac who, in 1942. prevented a major catastrophe when he heard that the governor of the Italian zones of occupation, Giuseppe Bastianini wished to send all the Jews, around 6000, back to the NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia). Stepinac, jointly with Abbot Marcone obtained a permit, with the help of the Vatican, for all Jews to remain under the protection of the Italian Second Armata. My mother and I were among thousands of other Jews who survived. I owe gratitude and acknowledgment to Archbishop Stepinac and the Vatican! The documents and the testimonies of survivors demonstrate his unstoppable battle against the perpetrators’ devious plans. Stepinac’s generosity and kindness towards all those who sought his assistance, and received it regardless of religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation is documented in factual history! Thank you! Esther Gitman

Tito’s Pioneers Keep Sharpening Their Axes Of Hate Against Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

A communist narrative in Marie-Janine Calic interview about Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

On 8 December 2020 the widely read Catholic portal from Germany (Katolische.de) published an interview with German historian Marie-Janine Calic, daughter of Croatian-born Eduard Calic (1910-2003) – historian and Yugoslav (read communist) journalist who was a Berlin-based correspondent for a Yugoslav newspaper during WWII, when Croatia itself fought for independence away from Yugoslavia. This fact alone can throw a spotlight on the mental aura Marie-Janine Calic was, more likely than not, brought up with and that would include a profound intolerance and bias against any patriotic feelings away from the failed experiment of Yogoslavia (e.g. of Croatian patriotism). The interview was published under the title “Figure of hate: a historian warns of Cardinal Stepinac’s canonisation” ( Hassfigur: Historikerin warnt vor Heiligsprechung Kardinal Stepinacs” ). Blessed Alojzije Stepinac’s canonisation by the Vatican (Pope Francis) has been thwarted by political twists, lies and biases of the Serbian Orthodox Church and former communists. My recent open letter to Pope Francis delves into some of the issues pertaining to this.

This is the same Marie-Janine Calic who in her 2014 book “A History of Yugoslavia” strongly rejects the fact that Yugoslavia was an artificial state and still attempts to present the ludicrous idea that a common Yugoslavia made of the states was conceived in the mid-19th century as an attempt by elites to overcome underdevelopment in that region, secure progress and assert the right to self-determination for their people! Facts of history have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Serb domination and oppression, whether in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (that disintegrated at dawn of WWII) or the post-WWII Yugoslavia (that disintegrated in 1990/1991), suffocated the self-determination of their peoples Calic is shamelessly bandying around in this interview. The only self-determination right during the hundred years Calic is talking about was usurped by Serbs and Serbs alone, oppressing all other nations (Croat, Slovene, Bosnian, Macedonian) within that forced concoction of united Yugoslavia, which saw or represented not even the “u” in the true meaning unity; it was a forced union maintained either by the Serb Monarchy’s dictatorship or the Tito communist one.  

It seems to me that with this interview for the Catholics of Germany portal Calic is working in concert with those from the Serbian Orthodox Church and with former communist “dignitaries” to hammer in yet another nail into Blessed Alojzije Stepinac (who died at the brutal hands of Yugoslav communist regime) canonisation coffin. Why else would she in the interview call him a “figure of hate” and call his beatification by Pope John Paull II in 1998 controversial! It seems to me that if she has never been a Communist Party operative, a Yugoslav thug, she certainly demonstrates its modus operandi on quests of assassinating characters of decent people, with omitted and/or twisted details and half-truths. She fails to clarify in her interview that the only people who “hate” Stepinac are and were the former Yugoslav communists and the Serbian Orthodox Church, to multitudes of others he was a figure of human compassion and love, a saviour and rescuer to the endangered in WWII. We have the historical facts on that presented in research of New York based dr Esther Gitman and the writings of British dr Robin Harris, among others, as irrefutable evidence of that, not the claptrap promulgated by Calic, an evident stalwart of Serbia’s eternal lies and fabrications against Blessed Stepinac and WWII Croatia.

In the above interview Calic is asked: “In a biography published in 2017, lawyer Claudia Stahl writes that Stepinac supported those in need and persecuted?” Calic responded: “He occasionally led a campaign to save Jews, baptised as Catholics, especially children. But he never raised his voice against the planned extermination of Jews and other ethnic groups. He also never publicly distanced himself from the Ustasha regime.”

“Would that do any good?”, the question followed. Calic replied: “Stepinac was the Archbishop of Zagreb, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference and was in charge of the entire Catholic military pastoral care. As the highest representative of the Church in Croatia, he could at least stop the systematic persecution of Serbs by members of the Catholic Church.”

I find it sickening that Calic in this interview generally talks about persecution of Serbs and Jews in Croatia during WWII and fails to mention, in the same breath, that Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbia’s WWII Milan Nedic government were utter persecutors and exterminators of the Jews – historical facts are that by May 1942 Serbia had exterminated 94% of its Jews and boasted of becoming one of the first European states to be “Free of Jews” (Judenfrei)!  

How twisted and full of hate against Croats would one need to be to come up with such a reply as Calic did above! She completely ignores the realities of WWII and especially the fact that Serbs persecuted and murdered Croatians by thousands upon thousands and Stepinac still did all in his power to save as many Serbs as possible, even though most deserved persecution for their previous crimes and oppression, if we’re to be frank on a human motives’ levels. She completely ignores the historical findings of past twenty years that show and demonstrate the good deeds of Cardinal Stepinac towards Jews, Serbs, Roma – towards anyone faced with life-danger amidst the WWII political brutal divisions and animosities from all sides. Calic completely bypasses and ignores or underplays the public truth about Blessed Stepinac, published by historians and I will only present a small part here.

In 1934, Pius XI named Stepinac as coadjutor to Bauer. Not long after being made a bishop, as early as 1936, Stepinac knew of the threat facing the Jewish people in Europe and sought to raise funds to help those who were fleeing Nazi Germany and Austria.

He appealed to wealthy Croatian Catholics for their help: “Dear Sir, due to violent and inhumane persecution, a large number of people have had to leave their homeland. Left without means for a normal life, they wander throughout the world…Every day, a large number of emigrants contact us asking for intervention…It is our Christian duty to help them…I am free to address you, as a member of our Church, to ask for support for our fund in favour of emigrants. I ask you to write your free monthly allotment on the enclosed leaflet,” he wrote to them.

In an address to students in 1938, Stepinac condemned the racist ideologies of the Third Reich: “Love toward one’s nation cannot turn a man into a wild animal, which destroys everything and calls for reprisal, but it must ennoble him, so that his own nation secures respect and love of other nations.”

In 1939, he launched another fundraising campaign to help Jews and other persecuted migrants fleeing their countries because of the war, again emphasizing the Christian’s duty to help those in need regardless of their race or creed.

War officially came to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (which was comprised of modern-day Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia) on April 6, 1941, when German forces invaded the region.

Stepinac, as head of the Catholic Church in the majority-Catholic Croatia that had declared itself an independent state in April 1941 as the Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell apart, had the difficult task of opposing the racial laws that were brought into practice in Croatia (as they were brought about in Serbia also).

Stepinac organised hiding places for an unknown number of Jews using Croatian Catholic connections he had throughout the country or raised funds to help them escape to a safer place. When Stepinac’s own life was in danger, he warned all those that he had helped hide, and told them to find a different hiding place so that they would not be found out.

Stepinac also told his priests in no uncertain terms that they were to accept any requests from people who wanted to convert to the Catholic Church in order to try to save their lives – whether they were Jewish, Serbian, Gypsies, or other persecuted groups.

Based on dr Esther Gitman’s research into historical documents she found that Stepinac had a policy he passed on as instruction to all priests in Croatia: when a priest is approached by a Jew or a Serb whose life is in danger and they wished to convert, convert them, because the Christian duty is in the first place to save lives.

“When you are visited by people of the Jewish or Eastern Orthodox faith, whose lives are in danger and who express the wish to convert to Catholicism, accept them in order to save human lives. Do not require any special religious knowledge from them, because the Eastern Orthodox are Christians like us, and the Jewish faith is the faith from which Christianity draws its roots. The role and duty of Christians is in the first place to save people. When this time of madness and savagery has passed, those who would convert out of conviction will remain in our church, while others, after the danger passes, will return to their church,” read a note from Alojzije Stepinac distributed to parishes in Croatia during the war.

In the interview Calic claims that 250,000 Orthodox Serbs were converted to Catholicism in WWII Croatia! She provides no verifiable source for her claim, and journalist interviewing her does not ask for one (!) and we are tempted with good reason to conclude that she made it up, just like communists and Serbs have been making up stories and numbers of others’ victims for decades! This communist Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia lover, Calic, does not even bother in this interview mentioning that Tito mounted a persecutory court process (a show trial) against Stepinac in 1946, charging him with Nazi-collaboration and denying him any right of defence, conveying of life sentence by house arrest where he died a harsh death in 1960. It was only after Stepinac rejected Tito’s proposal and insistence to take the Catholic Church in Croatia away from Rome, to abandon Roman Catholic Church and establish Croatian Catholic Church that Stepinac was charged, tried and convicted of treason by Tito’s communist Yugoslavia! Calic in her above interview even tries to justify the staged process against Stepinac by saying that the process “also involved dealing with mass crimes in which the representatives of the Catholic Church took part.” What an appalling and tendentious claim by Calic! Reading it one could easily conclude that the Catholic bishops in Croatia carried out mass murders of people and that Cardinal Stepinac was their leader.

Outrageous!

Calic’s presentation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac in this interview as a “figure of hate” goes in the same direction as similar bashings against Stepinac by the Serbian Orthodox Church that have persisted since WWII. This is evidently another attempt to damage a representative of the Croatian Church, which was so strongly persecuted by the Communists in the media. Furthermore, with this interview, Calic appears to have hopped onto the Serbian wagon of continued persecution of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac to perhaps remind the German nation of its own dark WWII past and thus get them on the side like hers, which hates Stepinac. If they didn’t hate him they would need to take a look at themselves and admit to Serbia’s sins and genocidal past!

How dare she call Stepinac a Nazi sympathiser in a country that is still trying to forget its Nazi past! Furthermore, why is the German Catholic portal (Katolische.de) publishing such defamation and persecution of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac when other worldly renowned Catholic newspapers and portals such as the Catholic Weekly (Australia and USA), Catholic News Agency, etc. have been publishing research findings about Stepinac’s deeds of numerous rescues of Jews and other endangered groups during and before WWII for at least a decade!

If you want to remind yourself of, or learn about communist narratives simply visit the katolische.de interview with Marie-Janine Calic dated 8 December 2020 and all will be crystal clear to you.

And if you want to visit a place of absolute truth about the works and good deeds of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac during WWII, in particular, read the book by the American author, a Holocaust survivor from Sarajevo, dr. Esther Gitman, “Stepinac: A Pillar of Human Rights” or “When Courage Prevailed: The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941–1945” or the book by British author dr Robin Harris: “Stepinac: His Life and Times”, or Zvonimir Gavranovic’s books “In Search of Cardinal Stepinac”, among multitudes of other most credible works about Stepinac. Ina Vukic

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