Life And Actions of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac – As Clean As A Whistle

Alojzije Stepinac exhibition EUP 2016 poster

 

Croatian member of the European Parliament Marijana Petir, the Zagreb Archdiocese and the Croatian Catholic University organised in the EU Parliament an exhibition on the life and work of the Blessed Aloysius Stepinac; the exhibition was opened at the European Parliament in Brussels on the evening of Tuesday 14 June 2016 and this important event was followed by a conference on Stepinac’s humanitarian work that started the next day and included presentations from the organisers as well as a paper by Dr Esther Gitman, US based renowned researcher and author of the book “When Courage Prevailed: the rescue and survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945″ on WWII rescue and saving of the Jews in Croatia.

 

Despite Serbia’s protests to the EU Parliament in which its Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic maliciously, and with utter disregard for the truth, said that the exhibition and conference of Aloysius Stepinac in the European Parliament is an attempt to remove responsibility from the Croatian cardinal and rehabilitate the Ustasha movement. The fact that Stepinac was not a member of the WWII Ustashe regime nor its supporter or follower Serbia still drives its wagon of lies and vilification against Croatia, against Stepinac, instead of facing its own demons from the past and present. Dacic said that the exhibition and conference “Croatian saint Cardinal Stepinac” are not “a step towards reconciliation nor to the truth, but only deepen divisions.” Perhaps Mr Dacic is fighting so hard in trying to stop the truth because once the real truth of WWII and the peril of Jews at the hands of Serbs come to the surface, Serbia will have plenty of crimes to finally answer for on the international podium that is still polluted by politicians like Dacic, who hide the truth that may go against their country or nation.

Marijana Petir, MEP in Brussels 14 June 2016 at side of statue of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

Marijana Petir, MEP in Brussels 14 June 2016
at side of statue of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

Marijana Petir, shrugged off as unimportant Serbia’s reported protest against the exhibition and conference and commented that the event received full support from the EUP – because the life and actions of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac were “as clean as a whistle”.

 

From left: Rector Zeljko Tanjic, mons. Ivan SaSko, Vice-president EUP Mairead McGuinness, MEP Marijna Petir and mons. Vlado Kosic at exhibition in EUP Photo: www.unicath.hr

From left: Rector Zeljko Tanjic,
mons. Ivan SaSko,
Vice-president EUP Mairead McGuinness,
MEP Marijna Petir and mons. Vlado Kosic
at exhibition in EUP
Photo: http://www.unicath.hr

The European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuinness, a MEP from Ireland, opened the exhibition with the opening ceremony attended, among others, by representatives of the Zagreb Archdiocese and Crotian Catholic University.
Bishop mons. Ivan Sasko, an assisting bishop from the Zagreb Archdiocese, said that Stepinac was “an example of a European who lived the values of the culture of Christianity that has largely shaped Europe’s identity.”
His service made him permanently exposed… not only to the public but to the blows of three fatal ideologies – fascism, Nazism and communism, which marked a large part of the 20th century in Europe,” said Sasko.

At the time of communism, his good deeds were not spoken about and were covered up… the evidence of his exposure did not disappear despite its having been terribly distorted and manipulated,” Sasko said, adding that after communism one could freely talk about Stepinac but that decades of propaganda had caused damage.
Blessed Alojzije Stepinac became Zagreb Archbishop in 1937. He was named a cardinal in 1953 and Pope John Paul II beatified him in the Croatian shrine of Marija Bistrica on 3 October 1998. His canonisation is expected soon even though Pope Francis has not yet nominated the date.

Alojzije Stepinac Exhibition EU Parliament June 2016

Alojzije Stepinac
Exhibition EU Parliament
June 2016

On Wednesday 15 June, at the conference start Marijana Petir said that “in the time of severely disrupted interpersonal relations, Blessed Alojzije Stepinac’s humanitarian work shows us the meaning of philanthropy in its splendor and fullness”. Relating to Stepinac’s charity work she said that “we can recognise its size – he had always had open eyes and heart for the weakest and most vulnerable, trying to alleviate their pain and suffering, and not afraid to take risks and risking his own.”
The Rector of the Croatian Catholic University, Dr Zeljko Tanjic, emphasised that the “Croatian Catholic University is on of the youngest universities in Croatia and in Europe and it strives towards excellence scientific and teaching pursuits, but it’s also dedicated to the offering of examples and ideals that will help the students with their maturity, helping through the Christian vision of people and society shape their opinions, ideas and ways to act that will help change the Croatian and the European reality. These positive characteristics are unified in Aloysius Stepinac’s life and with his life and activities he is one of those people that are still much undiscovered across the European public as a forerunner of all fundamental ideas upon which the community of the European people and states were built, the ideas he drew from faith, loyalty to fundamental moral principles and those of Church’s mission, always defending the specificity and the importance of every person regardless of religion, race, nationality, gender or conscience, especially in hard times of the Ustashe and Communist regimes and totalitarianism. ”

Second from left: Dr Esther Gitman Alojzije Stepinac Conference EU Parliament

Second from left: Dr Esther Gitman
Alojzije Stepinac Conference EU Parliament

Dr Esther Gitman delivered her presentation at the conference with particular focus on the importance of Dr Aloysius Stepinac and his word for the understanding of contemporary Europe, presenting a number of the researched facts of Stepinac’s good deeds during WWII, his tireless work in saving the vulnerable and the persecuted, his own persecution and false communist accusations, trial and prosecution. Dr Gitman concluded her presentation with the following words:
“…As mentioned earlier, the European Union aim was and still is, of ending wars among neighbors. European countries began to cooperate economically in 1951, only six countries participated, today, 28 member countries are in the union, with the accession of Croatia on July 1, 2013.
And we are hereby reminded that the creation and the ever growing life of peace and camaraderie among many different nations in contemporary Europe have been driven by the wisdom and fortitude of men like Croatia’s Alojzije Stepinac who has envisioned as essential the freedom and respect for the right of every nation to its full development and to independence in its national life. … This is the time when Europe needs leaders with a clear vision of a strong peaceful, and war free Europe.”

Aloysius Stepinac conference at EU Brussels JUne 2016

Aloysius Stepinac conference
at EU Brussels June 2016

Media reported late last week, after the exhibition and conference in Brussels, that Serbia sacked its ambassador to the EU Dusko Lopandic, the official explanation being that he has been unable to prevent an exhibition in the European Parliament honouring Croatia’s Blessed Aloysius Stepinac! Such actions do make one very sick and to think Serbia is in pursuit of EU membership with such barbaric attitudes to the truth and freedom of expression! How awful would it be to “rub shoulders” with such hateful attitudes on daily basis along EUP corridors. Shudder to think.  Just as well the Aloysius Stepinac exhibition and conference were a hit and a step further on the path to his canonisation, which is expected – and I would say due – in the near future. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

Continued Mistreatment of Croats in Serbia Stalls Serbia’s EU Membership Negotiations

Croatian Member of EU Parliament Marijana Petir

Croatian Member of EU Parliament
Marijana Petir

 

If anyone wants to go and see how minorities are mistreated, abused and persecuted in the 21st Century’s so-called freedom and democracy go to Serbia and check out the abominable treatment of the Croatian minority in the Vojvodina part of Serbia.

 

This May marks 25 years from the time of widespread and brutal persecution of Vojvodina Croats from their homes under the attack of the criminal Great Serbian policy from Slobodan Milosevic and the current Serbian government, in its desire to become an EU member state is doing nothing much to correct its wrongs of the past. In the 1990’s Serbs did not only attack Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to ethnically cleanse large areas of these sovereign countries but they also went about ethnically cleansing parts of Serbia (Vojvodina); targeting Croatian minority there. (Of course elements of such a criminal pattern would be also seen in the Kosovo, then a province of Serbia, and its Muslim population.)

When compared to 1990, there is only half of Croats still living in Vojvodina, Serbia. They are being discriminated against and their rights as a national minority – repressed. They have had no parliamentary representation in Serbia’s Parliament like Serbs living in Croatia have during the past two decades. The broadcasting of the radio and TV in Croatian language has been shut down; Serbia’s government also does not finance books and education in the Croatian language. Croats are often the targets of thievery, murder and physical attacks for which the assailants are rarely found. Catholic priests are also attacked and Catholic churches defiled. Reports Cro Portal.

Croatian member of the European Parliament Marijana Petir alerted the European Commission about this on several occasions in recent times. She asked the EC to protect the Croatian minority in Vojvodina.
The national authorities in Serbia are preventing Croats in Vojvodina from exercising their rights to language, culture and education in their mother tongue. All of the actions taken by the Serbian authorities in Vojvodina are aimed at favouring the Bunjevci — a group of Croats who do not wish to declare themselves Croats, but only Bunjevci — in order to assimilate them. Croats are prevented from exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them by the law and by international agreements.
The Croatian National Council in Serbia and the Croatian Government are therefore obliged to spend their own resources on printing textbooks. Meanwhile, the Serbian Government refuses to reimburse them for the costs of doing this and does not allow them to use public spaces for their cultural events. It is also attempting to squeeze out the Croatian language and replace it with the Bunjevac language.
Given that Croats are citizens of the European Union, how will the Commission ensure that the rights of Croats in Vojvodina to language, culture and education in their mother tongue are exercised?” Petir asked the EU Parliament in late 2015.

 

Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy

Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy

Johannes Hahn, EC Commissioner Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, replied that respect of fundamental rights and the protection of minorities are the key conditions for Serbia within the negotiation process and are dealt with in Chapter 23. He further explained that Serbia was completing its action plan regarding the protection of minorities and the EC expects from Serbia to take up the recommendations entailed in the EC Advisory board’s directions. Those recommendations, he said, are directed at education, use of language, access to media and religious practices in the languages spoken by minorities. He concluded that Serbia, in practice, is bound to respect fundamental rights, including the right on property protection … As to the latter part of Hahn’s reply, the return of property to the Croatian clubs and organisations (in Vojvodina) Mr Krunoslav Djakovic (President of Centre for Culture ‘Srijem” and Croatian House organisatuon) emphasised that “Croats are not asking for anything that would contradict the law, but are asking from Serbia’s government to give them, as an ethnic minority, that which they have legal right to. If they don’t want to do that, that is breach of human rights”.

 

Recently Petir said that she will not stop in her endeavours and that Serbia must ensure all the rights defined by the international agreements because if that does not happen, they will not be able to continue their European path. Petir also wants Croatia to start taking more care about Croats outside their country, and also the Croats in Vojvodina, so that their interests are protected and that they can have their right for a Croatian citizenship.

 

Miro Kovac Croatia's Foreign Minister

Miro Kovac
Croatia’s Foreign Minister

Last week, albeit reluctantly, following complaints by the Croatian government, the European Council had once again postponed the opening of negotiations with Serbia in its desired accession to EU membership. The postponement has to do with two crucial chapters of the EU legislation, Chapter 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and Chapter 24 (justice freedom and security). Croatia did not and does not accept or endorse the European Commission opinion that Serbia is ready to proceed to EU membership negotiations stage; all 28 countries, members of the EU must agree in order for any new membership negotiations to proceed.

 

Croatia’s concerns are threefold: the lack of Serbian cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); the mistreatment of the Croatian minority in Serbia (Vojvodina); and the universal jurisdiction of Serbian courts over war crimes committed in other parts of the former Yugoslavia.
It would seem that the EC sent a blind or a pro-Serbia bent person to Serbia during 2015 on task of investigating matters on progress made by Serbia with view to its path in becoming an EU member state. In its Progress Report (2015) EC writes:
2.4. Human rights and the protection of minorities – Overall situation – The legislation and institutions needed to uphold international human rights law are in place. Legislation to protect minorities and cultural rights is also broadly in place. However, sustained efforts are needed to ensure effective and consistent implementation across the country. Shortcomings particularly affect the following areas:
• Conditions for the full exercise of freedom of expression are still not in place. Full implementation of the new media laws needs to be ensured.
• Promotion and protection of the rights of the most vulnerable and discriminated groups, including the LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS has yet to be fully ensured. Hate-motivated offences need to be properly investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned.
• Efforts to improve the difficult living conditions of Roma and to combat discrimination need to be strengthened. Government coordination and leadership of Roma integration policy needs to be further improved…”

Zilch on the widespread mistreatment of Croat minority in Vojvodina! One must, therefore, be very skeptical of the truthful representation of the situation in Serbia regarding ethnic minorities within the EC. Croatia has the absolute right to require same standards from Serbia as the EC required of Croatia during the prolonged and painful period of negotiations as prospective member of the EU. Furthermore, let’s hope that Croatia will persist in its requirements for Serbia to meet EU standards and turn away from nasty media and nasty politicians who try and belittle Croatia’s attempts at demanding acceptable standards from Serbia. As long as abuse or mistreatment of rights of ethnic minorities exist in Serbia, Croatia must remain a watchdog for the EC.

To reiterate Croatian foreign minister Miro Kovac words on 15 April 2016 HRT news “Croatia is neither a superpower nor a poodle. Croatia is a member state of the European Union. If we are admitting someone in our family we have to monitor the accession process and co-decide about it. If Serbia wants to be a part of the EU, it will have to adapt to its standards…” Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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