Croatia: Covid-19 and the Eighth Commandment – Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…

Council of Croatian Bishops/ Conference 2021

Croatia’s Permanent Council of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference on 12 November 2021 sent a public message entitled “Is the vaccine against Covid-19 morally acceptable ?!”, which we are transmitting in its entirety.

One may assume that this public message is associated with the fact that the situation in Croatia with new Covid-19 infections has become an alarming concern with more that 7,000 new cases recorded daily and the hospital system bursting at the seams. Furthermore, given that new cases are mainly recorded through Covid-19 testing and testing numbers are relatively small one may assume that the real situation on the ground is much worse and numbers of new cases much higher than those reported. Vaccination rate in Croatia is relatively low (around 50%) and death numbers with Covid-19 rising. Also, there is a strong presence in Croatia of those who oppose vaccination and measures put in place under Public Health Orders and protests are rather frequent but also are publications of blatant lies, disinformation, and misinformation. So, while citizens have every right to protest against vaccines and restrictive measures put in place in attempts to slow down the spread of Covid-19 virus infections they have absolutely no right to spread lies.

For example, on 8 November 2021 a lady with the background of having a Masters degree in medical biology, Josipa Juricev-Sudac, appeared on the Bujica Z1 Television program where she stated the following: “So in Sydney, 25,000 children were brought to one stadium without parents, vaccinated, so the doctors vaccinated those children, five children died on the spot, three children were taken to the hospital in a coma, and later the consequences and injuries of children and how many children after that died so no objective information can be obtained, mostly suicides of only children have increased in a large percentage. in Australia the mental state of children is catastrophic, parents do not know what to do at all, mostly what happened in Australia is obviously an intention all over the world and that is why the age limit is lowering lower and lower…“ Of course, we alerted from Australia, Sydney, the television show that these are utter and complete lies about Sydney’s High School pupils vaccination and that the program should publish the sources used for the lies published so everyone can check the source’s credibility. We received no reaction within the three days after the complaint and had no alternative but to publish an article in the Croatian language, alerting the public that terrible lies were told about Sydney.

 Here is the truth about the vaccination of 25,000 or 24,000 “children” at the stadium in Sydney, which is falsely told by Ms. Juricev-Sudac: August 9, 2021, students (last year of high school) arrive for vaccination at the stadium Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Australia, which is converted to the vaccination centre against COVID-19. In the two weeks from that date, approximately 24,000 Year-12 students from eight local government areas of concern during the pandemic in Sydney received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine, in an effort to create a safe environment for students to take the Face-to-Face Final Examinations. The age of these students ranged from 17.5 to 18.2, and most were brought there by parents, and many parents, we are informed, fearing that the Pfizer vaccine supplies would disappear, tried to arrange an appointment for their children to be vaccinated sooner than planned.

Five children did not die at that stadium after the vaccination, as Ms. Juricev-Sudac claims, not a single child died. No child fell into a coma after the vaccination, as Ms. Juricev-Sudac claims. Child suicide has not significantly increased in Australia as claimed by Ms Juricev-Sudac and mental health status of Australian children is not catastrophic as Ms Jurcev-Sudac claimed.

All in all, Ms Juricev-Sudac has been referred to as a known activist against Covid-19 vaccination and Public Health Measures in Croatia but that does not give her or anyone the right to tell lies as she did regarding Sydney and the television host Velimir Bujanec did not stop her nor did he ask her publicly to reveal the sources of her claims. Unforgivable!  

So we come to the message that on 12 November 2021 was sent by the Council of Croatian Bishops’ Conference and appropriately so because even the 8th of the Ten Commandments (of God) tells us “Thou shall not bear false witness”.  In other words, nobody is denying those who are against Covid vaccination to express their view and exercise the rights they believe they have but they have no right in passing on blatant lies, fabrications and misinformation in attempts to make their views ‘more justified’. The Croatian Bishops’ Conference message is:

Although there has been talk of the Covid-19 vaccine on several occasions, it seems advisable to say a few things repeatedly. Primarily aware of the dangers posed by the Covid 19 pandemic, as well as the current state of society, we encourage believers and people of good will to reflect and constructively cooperate in the current circumstances for the common good of individuals and society. With this short Statement in the spirit of Jesus’ command to ‘be the salt of the earth and the light of the world,’ we want to provide the light of the Gospel in this challenging social moment.

1. When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on December 21, 2020, published a note on the use of certain vaccines against Covid-19, it indicated that it was ‘morally acceptable to receive vaccines against Covid-19’ (No. 2). In addition, it encouraged ‘the production, approval, distribution and offering of ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create a conflict of conscience, among health professionals and among those who will be vaccinated.’ (No. 4). Vaccination, therefore, remains a means of preventing and suppressing the transmission of an infectious agent, but on the instructions of the Congregation, it ‘must be voluntary’ (No. 5).

2. In recent days, an atmosphere of certain pressures has been created on persons who have manifested the problem of their own conscience. By thematizing the loss of jobs and social status due to the fact that some did not get vaccinated, it additionally burdened and shook the trust and the social climate. Bearing in mind that the basis of social order is respect for man and his dignity, we consider it necessary to take into account the arguments and reasons of individuals who, for justified reasons, exclude the possibility of vaccination. In this context, all measures and decisions to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection should be without coercion and conditionality, as pointed out by the Congregation, in particular with regard to the right to work, services and participation in social life. The use of non-invasive methods and other forms of testing is also recommended.

3. Having before us man and his dignity, we encourage believers and citizens, employees of social events, holders of responsible services in society, as well as employees of the media to give their personal contribution to creating a healthy interpersonal climate. In preventing coronavirus infection, they should pay attention to human dignity and human rights so as not to create discrimination in society. Particular attention should be paid to the elderly and the poor, and they should be provided with health and other care to feel protected and ‘at home‘ “.

While Pope Francis and bishops across North and South America, Poland, have called on believers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus the Croatian Bishops’ Conference (HBK) is mostly silent on vaccination when it is not sending ambiguous statements, as the one above which they rest upon an “Atmosphere of certain pressures”. Nevertheless, it is possible to conclude that the Croatian Council of Bishops’ Conference is against forced vaccination and invasive Covid testing. The bishops said in summary also that we must prevent the spread of infection and discrimination. We watch and wait and are vigilant to see how all this will be achieved during this war-like state between those that wish to be vaccinated and those that do not. It is a pity that the Bishops’ Conference omitted to send messages regarding false information sent around communities about Covid-19 and which creates alarming fear in people. God bless us all and may He shine a light upon a solution that will bring peace and chase us the lies that so miserably breach His 8th Commandment. Ina Vukic

Stumbling Blocks On Covid-19 Vaccination Freedom Path!

Every day we hear from our governments and health authorities that Covid-19 vaccination is the freedom path; the more of us that are vaccinated the greater the chance of ending lockdowns and returning to that which we have known as normal living. But also, another loud voice keeps hitting our senses to uncomfortable levels and that other voice comes from the so-called anti-vaxxers or people who are against vaccination. This voice keeps telling us among other things related to “control of people” that the governments want people vaccinated so that the rich behind vaccine manufacture can get even richer through the money they will make on vaccines. Granted, amassing wealth through vaccine sales may well be true, but if the same people have such strong views against big money-makers, it is rather peculiar that they don’t say the same things about people producing the food we are buying or consuming or beverages we drink as they do for vaccine manufacturers.

We are in a war against lies, a war against misinformation, a ferocious war to have enough people trust their health providers, their doctors when it comes to Covid vaccination – after all, they trust them and have trusted them for everything else to do with health.

The arrival of the first coronavirus vaccines less than a year after the pandemic began blew away the previous development record of four years, which was held by the mumps vaccine. Once the vaccines were produced it was clear that social scientists and public health communications professionals must clear another hurdle: ensuring that enough people actually roll up their sleeves and give the shots a shot – two doses per person. It is said that somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of adults and children must be vaccinated or have antibodies resulting from infection to arrive at the safe harbour known as herd immunity, where the whole community is protected. In Australia the public has recently been told that reaching 80% of adults vaccinated will mean safety with which our lives can regain freedoms we had prior to the pandemic and lockdowns.

At the same time the anti-vaccine group among us started distributing on social media a video of men in police uniforms chasing, grabbing, dragging, and even hitting people in a park and falsely explaining to the public that the video represents Australian police hunting people down to take them for forced vaccination! Then there was an awful false flyer supposedly issued by Australian Health that on a certain date in July supermarkets would close. Then we are told how the vaccine will change our DNA!  

Prior to Covid-19 the only lockdowns we have known in our midst were those placed in operation during a terrorist act. Certainly, for Sydney Australia, the last lockdown prior to Covid-19 pandemic occurred in its business centre, to protect people in their workplaces or who were shopping, while the so-called Lindt Café on Martin Place siege, 15-16 December 2014, played out and ended with two innocent people killed. To my understanding lockdowns have always been about safety of people’s lives or their health, and lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic are construed as such by most people, including myself, even though most of us are tempted to criticise them as they are very inconvenient to say the least.

I live in Sydney, and I have had the opportunity to experience in “real time and real life” the effects prolonged lockdowns have on people that psychologists worldwide have been writing about. As a trained and experienced Psychologist, myself, I recognise these effects perhaps more easily than those not trained in the field of mental health. These effects are amplified in the so-called “ethnic” communities, particularly among people who do not have adequate use of the official language used in the country they live in. And so, in my case, there are members of the Australian Croatian community who may have found themselves is a state of confusion and anxiety regarding Covid-19 vaccines. The government has certainly provided avenues to important information in all community languages, sadly however, “word-of-mouth” appears to be the easiest channel to “watch and hear”, and that channel is more often lacking important details than not!

The consequences of lockdowns manifest themselves in a variety of psychological outcomes, such as anxiety, worry, disinterest, depression, and general health weakening to name just a few. Most of these psychological conditions, as a matter of retaining one’s own sanity, are likely to produce or promote a plethora of sensationalistic information feeds without checking its veracity or are susceptible to being affected by such sensationalistic information, frequently to their own demise or damage. We are, as a result, faced with copious amounts of misinformation and disinformation seemingly designed to “scare” people off Covid vaccination even if some of this misinformation may be true but does not apply, half-true or a total fabrication. The negative consequences of Covid lockdowns also include economic downturn and job losses or income losses and, hence, concerns towards food, housing, and employment security. 

The negative consequences of lockdowns further include information overload that can be perplexing, causing panic and anxiety. With abundant time on people’s hands due to lockdowns communication with others becomes very important and so, this time around, Covid-19 lockdowns are manufacturing their own source of panic and anxiety. Pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination movements have taken over our lives, it seems, to the point of despair. Mistrust in medical and scientific profession is often promoted on the streets when it comes to Covid-19 and yet the pure truth is that we trust the same professionals with all our other health problems. The incessant bombardments with misinformation or disinformation are creating fear. On the one hand, the country’s official information that comes from our government and highly regarded professionals steers us in the direction of vaccination. Vaccination has become the condition that will dictate our future degree of freedoms as a community and as individuals. And, indeed, having known closely some people who had contracted Covid-19, some of whom pulled through after terrible hospital treatment schedules and some of whom had died with or from Covid-19, there is no doubt in my mind that the official information we are receiving is sound and beneficial.   

On the other hand, we also receive, at the same time, bombardments of information (most often misinformation or disinformation) from the so-called anti-vaxxers. The anti-vaccine movement is not a new phenomenon and has occurred in most of the infectious disease outbreaks in past, however, due to the internet and social media, their message these days appears to be spreading faster than ever before. While there are credible exceptions to this stance from credible professionals around the world, these movements tend to present the Covid-19 vaccine as more harmful than the disease itself by linking vaccines with other illnesses (e.g., in 1998, the measles-mumps-rubella [MMR] vaccine was linked with autism) and sure death. The COVID-19 anti-vaccine movement appears to be fuelled by conspiracy theories, false beliefs, a lack of confidence among stakeholders, and a presumed lack of transparency (e.g, efficacy, and safety) in the vaccine approval process. In addition, many people appear to harbour low-risk perceptions of COVID-19 infection due to relatively good recovery rates. And, regretfully, while there are credible professionals on the anti-vaccine platform, their often solidly professional message gets distorted in its promulgation process, rendering it more dangerous than any lie can ever be.  

While I personally do not mind receiving information from anti-vaccine movement members, I do become irritated by the sheer volume I receive and am saddened and angry that members of this movement do not seem to correct with their followers any information they sent, which has been proven to be false or wrong. Hence, leaving lies to float freely in the air!

The COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures such as lockdowns have increased the prevalence of mental health issues through the disruption of mental health services. The anti-vaccine movement may further prolong the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and may increase mortality or morbidity, resulting in an exacerbation of health inequalities and flaring the economic and social disparities. This may lead to not only an increase in the burden of COVID-19 infection but also mental health issues in generally but particularly so within the ethnic communities.

Being a well-educated and highly experienced Psychologist, and a proud member of the Australian Croatian community, I often find myself wondering about our immediate and long-term future in these Covid-19 lockdown months, about our well-being. I also feel compelled to write this article in the hope that people feel the safest after having spoken to their doctor about Covid-19 vaccination. Covid-19 is too serious an illness to leave its possible terrible effects on us to unreliable information.

It is a given that we all have a right to our own opinions and others can agree or disagree with them. Some may choose to forgo the shot and claim they are making a personal decision. But the continued spread of Covid-19 affects us all. And the truth is, the virus doesn’t care about so-called individual rights and freedoms. It simply infects whatever host it can find, Labour or Liberal politicians, young or old, disabled, immuno-compromised, and anti-vaxxers alike. If anything, remaining unvaccinated by choice – and not because of lack of access or contraindicated health conditions – sounds more to me like shirking an individual responsibility than exercising an individual right. Ina Vukic     

Croatia: For Eternal Glory

Simultaneous worldwide prayers by Croats 11 April 2020
Top left: Father Ike Manduric
Photo: Screenshot

The Easter story is the story of hope. Easter Sunday is one of the most festive events among Christians worldwide. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The knowledge and sight of Jesus’ crucifixion more than 2000 years ago initially brought a sudden halt to so much hope and promise in the lives of his living, ardent followers. And the resurrection of Jesus has instilled in his followers, to this day, a story of overcoming darkness and despair, and finding new life and hope.

Easter invites all of us to believe in the transforming power of love.

At a time in our world where fear is a natural response, the Easter season encourages us to look towards love and life. We look for the generous and life-giving response of our health care and community service workers who continue to care for others; who continue to place their own life at risk so that the destruction sowed worldwide by Covid-19 coronavirus may be eradicated. We look at ourselves, we look at our neighbours, we look at our community and we give and expect sacrifice by adhering to strict rules of social isolation and limited movements. We look to the generosity of neighbours, as people help one another with shopping, phone calls and staying in touch. We look to the willingness of our community leaders working together to realise better outcomes for us all. To nourish our souls, we look at our religious institutions and church leaders to provide us and join us in prayer and celebration and the joy of Easter, even if at a distance via video or audio technology.

It is at times of disaster and fear of losing our lives, our loved ones’ lives, that our needs to belong, which are constantly present in all of us as human beings, become highly acute. And while there are multitudes of examples how people have come together despite the Covid-19 restrictions, one that caught my attention, naturally, are the events of simultaneous coming together online in prayer of thousands of Croats living across the world and all the continents. On Saturday 4th April 2020 Croats across the world gathered together in simultaneous rosary for healing, fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and restoring faith on the youtube channel “For Eternal Glory“, initiated by Father Ike Manduric from Croatia, one of the most prominent Jesuit priests in Croatia well known for his spiritual guidance and deeds of goodness for the people. The Rosary was led by Father Ike Manduric then and also on last Saturday 11 April 2020 and it is to be continued.

This is how Father Manduric announced on 2 April 2020 the worldwide simultaneous prayer of the Rosary:

“Dear emigrated Croatians! Dear Croats in the Homeland, My people – separated!

These days, when even those who live side by side cannot spend time together, all of us Croats yearn for one another. And then, how much is the longing of those who had to part from their homeland, and how much is the Homeland’s longing for those who had to leave it? This is a time of yearning to meet, so our thoughts fly to you.

Where are you, how are your hearts, do you think of us? How is your faith, hope, love, wisdom? Have the seductions and difficulties of the world pressed upon you? Do you think of the Homeland? Do you manage to raise your children, preserve the language and religion, instil in them humanity, the Croatian soul? Are you scared?

And we know that you equally touch in thoughts the land you left behind, or your fathers and grandparents. Separated, but together in the soul… Wherever we are, we are all burdened by same worries, and especially these days we see and feel how fragile we are. In particular, we, as a small nation, must today be comforted by one another, in prayer, with our God, and by the robes of the Virgin Mary, whom we have carried in our hearts across the oceans and continents, with the love and prayers we have learned in the homeland.

The big pandemic is ravaging the world, shaking all the world’s powerful, all systems are tottering, and every human fragility is showing. In addition to this anguish, our main city of all Croats was badly damaged (in earthquakes), churches were badly damaged, the Cathedral damaged, apartments destroyed. With all the anguish and pain that we feel as we remain attached to our Homeland, these present ones must hurl us together to gather around the Mother of Heaven, for, though we are separated, we are one people and we are one. Let’s be together with her, all of us Croats from every continent, priests and people of God. And let us pour out all the crying of our souls. Thanks to the power of grace that dear God has bestowed upon our people, we ask that our people be elevated and thoroughly renewed through this crisis:

  • for faith, to remain true to God and our Catholic Church
  • to end the pandemic and rebuild Zagreb
  • for our diaspora, to preserve its identity and its values
  • for the future of all Croatian people and their offspring
  • and for each of us with all our needs.

I invite you, dear Croats from all over the world, all those whom I have met across Canada, America, Australia and Europe, and all those whom I have not, and I equally love you all: Let’s gather together and perhaps for the first time all together and at the same time pray the rosary, all Croats of the world, for God’s grace and salvation, for all the world as well as for all the difficulties that have afflicted our Croatia – from earthquakes to coronavirus and all the current crosses of this generation.”

If you the reader of this post, your family or friends wish to join in this rosary it is organised via Youtube channel “Za vječnu slavu” (For Eternal Glory) every Saturday, 14.00 hrs Zagreb/Croatia time.

Father Ike Manduric and Ina Vukic – 2019
Photo: Ina Vukic


Happy and blessed Easter to all! Ina Vukic



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