Alojzije Stepinac: From Communist False Allegations to Universal Example of Humanity

Blessed Alojzije Stepinac sarcophagus in Zagreb, Croatia, cathedral

On 10 February 1960 Croatia’s Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac passed away in his house prison or confinement, having suffered several illnesses during his imprisonment. In 1953, Pope Pius XII made him a cardinal, although he was never allowed travel to the Holy See to be officially elevated. He died in 1960 of an alleged blood disorder, which was said to have been caused by the conditions he endured in jail. Recent tests of his remains by Vatican investigators show evidence he was also poisoned.

History and historical research have proven repeatedly that Stepinac was a man whose actions were opposed to the destructive tendencies of both fascist and communist regimes and whose being was burned and defaced by his enemies in order for it not to become a Catholic relic. Croatian Catholics view Pope Francis’s ambivalent relationship towards his predecessor’s spiritual patrimony is less related to issues like universal priestly celibacy or sex abuse in the Church, and much more so with the delayed canonisation of the most significant man of faith in 20th-century Croatia.

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

On his return from last year’s visit to Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, the Holy Father was asked about Stepinac’s canonisation, a man whom St. John Paul II declared Blessed in 1998. Francis replied: “The canonisation of Stepinac is a historic case. He is a virtuous man for this Church, which has proclaimed him Blessed, you can pray [through his intercession]. But at a certain moment of the canonisation process there are unclear points, historic points, and I should sign the canonisation, it is my responsibility, I prayed, I reflected, I asked advice, and I saw that I should ask Irinej (Head of Serbian Orthodox Church), a great patriarch, for help. We made a historic commission together and we worked together, and both Irinej and I are interested in the truth. Who is helped by a declaration of sanctity if the truth is not clear? We know that [Stepinac] was a good man, but to make this step I looked for the help of Irinej and they are studying. First of all, the commission was set up and gave its opinion. They are studying other sources, deepening some points so that the truth is clear. I am not afraid of the truth; I am not afraid. I am afraid of the judgment of God.”

Serbian Patriarch Irinej, whom the Pope calls “great”, like many of his predecessors, is a politician as much as he is a priest. Known for his nationalist statements justifying Serbian imperialism—a transgenerational project which underlies every 20th-century War in Former Yugoslavia —Irinej’s observations about Stepinac, who “did not want to hear the children’s cry” in concentration camps, are a first-class manipulation. The inaccuracies of Irinej’s statements about Stepinac and other historical phenomena were reported to Francis by the Episcopal Conference of Croatia before the Pope called him “great,” which makes Francis’s statement quite problematic.

How Pope Francis could say that both he and Irinej are interested in the truth is beyond any decent and objective person’s comprehension. Irinej as head of Serbian Orthodox Church had taken a key and leading role in falsifying Croatian history and WWII. Indeed, all Patriarchs before and after Irinej have been crucial in keeping the lies alive. Pope Francis knows this I am quite sure but what I am not sure is why does Pope Francis insists on talking to pathological liars of the Serbian Orthodox Church without even trying to make them aware that they are liars.      

Dr Robin Harris presenting his new book “Stepinac – His Life and Times” In Zagreb, Croatia 21 October 2016 Photo: HKS (Croatian Catholic University of Croatia)

 The historical irony is not only that Stepinac was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of – on the contrary, he was not a persecutor (or even a supporter of the persecution) of the Serbian, Jewish and Roma populations, but their saviour. Relevant research in both the Croatian and English languages – including “Stepinac: His Life & Time” by Robin Harris and “When Courage Prevailed: The Rescue and Survival of the Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945” and “Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights” by Esther Gitman -show that books on the subject written in communist Yugoslavia do not reflect the truth about the Croatian cardinal and are an ugly fabrication of history; the kind of fabrication that we know communist regimes were capable of and insisted on passing as truthful or factual.

Dr Esther Gitman and her book: “Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights” (Photo: Catholic University of Croatia)

In May 1943, Cardinal Stepinac openly criticised the Nazis and put his own life in danger; he is knowns to have rescued thousands of Jews, Croats, Serbs, and Roma from certain death during that Second World War that was marked by racial laws and extreme intolerance. At the end of World War Two, when communists started ruling over Yugoslavia and immediately set about falsely accusing Stepinac of Nazi collaboration because he would not separate the Croatian Catholic Church from the Vatican as the Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito sked him to do.  Without the right to defence in court Alojzije Stepinac was found guilty of Nazi collaboration at a mock trial, by the communist government and was convicted and sentenced sixteen years` hard labour on October 11, 1946. Archbishop Stepinac was denied effective representation and only met with his attorney for an hour before the trial. The government’s witnesses were told what to say, and the archbishop was not allowed to cross-examine them. After being convicted and sentenced, he spent five years in the notorious and cruel prison for political opponents to communism called Lepoglava, and in 1951, Tito`s government released him and ordered house imprisonment or confinement in the village of Krasic.

Even though the communist Yugoslavia government had forbidden him to resume his duties in the Catholic Church, Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953. In 1985, his trial prosecutor Jakov Blazevic admitted publicly that Cardinal Stepinac`s trial was an entire frame-up, and that Stepinac was tried only because he refused to sever thousand-year-old ties between Croatians and the Roman Catholic Church. On October 3, 1998 in Marija Bistrica, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, and referred to him as one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church.

In his article dated 10 February 2022 published on HKV portal (Croatian Cultural Council) dr Josip Sabol wrote that “today we can convincingly speak of Stepinac as a witness of the time, as a visionary whose visions and ideas became real. Let’s compare the time in which Stepinac lived with ours today. The opposite can hardly be greater: then fascism and communism in Europe – today democracy and the rule of law. Then the Church was persecuted in the socio-cultural catacombs – today the Church in the legally guaranteed freedom of action and presence in public life. Then the Church in the spirit of Pope Pius IX. to Pius XII. – today the Church in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Then the nation-state and national consciousness as supreme cultural-political values ​​- today transnational integrations and the globalised world.

Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

We could mention other contradictions between Stepinac’s and today’s time, for example contradictions in ethics, philosophy, morality. One thing is certain: the person of Stepinac and his life’s work are even more relevant today than before. His actuality and universal respect are proved by his beatification. Its universal value and greatness for today’s world and for the further development of the culture of life and salvation in today’s civilisation is proved by the unusual, incomprehensible, and unfounded opposition to the elevation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac to the altar of holiness by certain circles of society and politics. It is incomprehensible to a Catholic of a critical and open spirit how these unusual pressures on the Catholic Church, specifically on the Pope, could have stopped the already positive process of canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac.”

I have written before about the utterly unfair and painful moves towards the Catholic faith that Pope Francis has taken in the process of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac’s canonisation by requiring the Serbian Orthodox’s Church’s input (or blessing) when he knows very well that the Serbian Orthodox Church had moulded and controlled Serbian history of aggression towards Croats and falsifying Croatian history particularly that of WWII. If Pope Francis thinks that Stepinac’s WWII role has been one of compromised, then the Pope has a duty towards the Croatian people not to permit Croatia’s enemy and aggressor to help decide upon Stepinac’s canonisation.

Obviously, this is a purely political activity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia and towards Croatia. The Vatican needs to know that, and it probably does and hence, regretfully, a very visible distancing of many Croatians from the Catholic Church. Catholics in Croatia are asking for an end to the politicking of Croatia’s enemies on the issue of what is sacred and most sacred to the Croatian people and its history. Pope Pius XII proved a completely different attitude towards the Catholic Croatian people by awarding the honour of Cardinal to Archbishop Stepinac in the most difficult circumstances of his life. Pope John Paul II proved the excellence of the attitude of the Holy See towards the Croats by beatifying Cardinal Stepinac. At that time, the world public proved its belief in the truth of everything that was happening in communist Croatia as part of communist Yugoslavia. The American Archbishop Fulton John Sheen is known to have said of Alojzije Stepinac that “He entered the courtroom as the Archbishop of Zagreb and left the courtroom as a universal example of humanity and as the spiritual leader of his Croatian people.”

Dr Esther Gitman 2019 in Zagreb Cathedral paying respect at the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac sarcophagus (Photo: Ina Vukic)

The inclusion of a non-Catholic religious leader in the process of proclaiming a Catholic saint is to my knowledge unprecedented. Besides writing directly to Pope Francis , receipt of which letter was acknowledged and besides writing several articles on the issue of this ugly, unprecedented canonisation process, which alienates the faithful from their church both spiritually and physically, I am confident many others have pleaded with Pope Frances to stop this ugly madness.  Sadly, Francis seems to have initiated an unprecedented number of precedents in the Catholic Church so much so that I have no memory of Catholic people resenting, showing bitter disappointments in the precedents that do not appear to be founded on the faith and Church we have known all our lives.    

In a closing statement at the 1946 trial, Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac said in court: “My conscience is clear, and the future will show that I was right.” And he was right. Historical research and fact findings have unequivocally yielded proclamations of his innocence and for years now Pope Francis has evidently not been able to bring himself to seeing truth! Let’s pray he does! Soon! Ina Vukic

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

Open Letter To Pope Francis On Canonisation Of Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

25 September 2020

Dear Pope Francis, Servant of the Servants of God,

It is with a heavy heart that I must write to Your Holiness that your ongoing pursuit of dialogue regarding the canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac with the Serbian Orthodox Church and former communists of former Yugoslavia is causing moral chaos within the Croatian congregation of the Roman Catholic Church and wider.

From Australia, I learn from various media sources across the world that you have placed the canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac on hold because, according to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Holy See State Secretary, your trusted and close associate who visited Croatia last week,  you claim that “the canonisation of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac must be a moment of togetherness for the entire Church, and not a reason for conflict or opposition…”. Furthermore, Cardinal Parolin said that in the matter of Stepinac canonisation you have chosen a methodology of trying to get closer to the Serbian Orthodox Church’s point of view on the matter, that dialogue with that Church is crucial for Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac to be canonised.  

The fact remains that you have completed one phase of that dialogue and did not achieve any particular result because the views did not converge between the Catholic and the Serbian Orthodox churches. This, of course is not surprising when it comes to the views of Serbian Orthodox Church, which I believe will never ever back down from its persistent lies and historical fabrications against WWII Croatia and Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. It is without any doubt in my mind that the Serbian Orthodox Church had armed itself with input of people like Predrag Ilic, who wrote the book of historical discussions (Stepinac and the Holocaust in NDH/WWII Croatia), a book of utter historical tripe and cosmetically filtered or adjusted interpretations of historic documentation. I also have no doubt that, should misfortune continue and a second round of talks with the Orthodox Church is held on Stepinac, the Serbian Church will arm itself with the likes of Gideon Greif, a historian evidently on Serbia’s payroll who also wrote books on WWII Croatia (e.g. Jasenovac – Auschwitz of the Balkans) filled with twisting the history against Croats by overwhelmingly avoiding pursuit of facts as they actually were and obviously giving a credence to politically fabricated numbers of victims since WWII.

I would like to think that among other factual historical evidence on Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, you have made yourself aware of the independent research of WWII Croatia conducted by Esther Gitman and her books that have been published in the past two decades (e.g. “When Courage Prevailed – the Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941 – 1945” or “Alojzije Stepinac – Pillar of Human Rights”). Esther Gitman’s findings on Cardinal Stepinac require no historical discussions, they require no interpretations because they are represented as facts found; as the truth. Esther Gitman’s factual discoveries about Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac’s work during WWII are indeed an ample demonstration of the Servant of God that he was. Same may be said for Robin Harris’s book “Stepinac – His Life and Times”. Our Catholic Church needs nothing more and nothing else to take a look at the Servant of God that Stepinac was, although there are ample other books and research papers that corroborate Stepinac’s existence, sacrifice and courage of a true Servant of God that our Catholic Church has for centuries listed among its saints.

I strongly believe that I am not the only person in the world, far from it, who considers that your pursuit of dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding the canonisation is fundamentally wrong on many fronts as far as the Roman Catholic congregation is concerned and as far as justice is concerned, including:

Firstly, it is wrong to place Pope John Paul II beatification in 1998 of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac on such degraded ground. Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, did not need to justify to any other than the Catholic Church his and Roman Catholic Church’s convictions at the time as to deserved merits for Cardinal Stepinac within his and our Church and faith! The “history”  Your Holiness pointed out existed at times of John Paul II only he was not as wealthy in the knowledge of facts as you are today; Pope John Paul II did not have the benefit of facts discovered about Blessed Alojzije Stepinac only after the communist Yugoslavia ceased to be and historical archives opened up and still knew the fact that Stepinac was truly a Servant of God.

Secondly, it is utterly wrong and cruel towards the Croatian people who fought for freedom and independence from the scourge of and aggression by Greater Serbia politics, always deeply rooted within the Serbian Orthdox Church, to decide upon the Sainthood of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac under a condition that Serbs might agree with that decision. No, Your Holiness, Croatians did not exchange moral or cultural values with the Serbian Orthodox Church – ever. Whenever Serbs invaded or attacked Croatia (whether by military or politically diplomatic manoeuvres) they destroyed parts of our culture, shook our faith in God, falsified our history, stole our lands…and the Serbian Orthodox Church stood right behind them, encouraging their aggression. It is far from even an inkling of possibility that a dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church will result in any consensus on matters where a member of the Croatian people, such as Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, will result in pointing a shining light upon Croats and to the benefit of Croatian people.

Thirdly, in May of 2019 Your Holiness stated that “the canonisation of Stepinac is a historic case. He is a virtuous man for this Church, which has proclaimed him Blessed. But at a certain moment of the canonisation process there are unclear points, historic points, and I should sign the canonisation, it is my responsibility, I prayed, I reflected, I asked advice, and I saw that I should ask Irinej, a great patriarch (of Serbian Orthodox Church), for help…” and I would like to remind you, if you already are not aware that this “great” patriarch, like all of his predecessors in living memory, is a politician as much as he is a priest, most likely a politician more than a priest. Known for his nationalist statements justifying Serbian imperialism—a transgenerational project which underlies every 20th-century war on the territory of former Yugoslavia – Irinej’s wicked observations about Stepinac, that he “did not want to hear the children’s cry” in concentration camps, are a first-class manipulation and evil fabrication directed at the Croatian Roman Catholic congregation.

Fourthly, it may be a prudent pursuit by Your Holiness to pursue dialogue with non-Catholic Christian communities, to pursue and invigorate relations with the Russian Orthodox Church via the Serbian Orthodox Church as a link, but it is far from acceptable to judge the life of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, as a prerequisite for canonisation, with the information supplied by the Serbian Orthodox Church headed by Irinej, or any other Greater Serbia bandit.  

Fifthly, regarding any talks held with those that since year 2000 may have held or currently hold government power in Croatia or Serbia regarding the canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, please know this: you have more likely than not spoken with former communist party of Yugoslavia members (or their children) who persecuted Croatian practicing Catholics during the life of Former Yugoslavia either by degrading their value to society or taking away their human right to religion, they mass murdered Croatian Catholic priests during and after WWII as well as hundreds of thousands of innocent freedom loving civilians and disarmed soldiers … In short, know this please Your Holiness: these former communists or their offspring, brought up in the communist mindset, are of no value whatsoever when it comes to presenting the truth of Stepinac’s life and deeds, especially those of extraordinary courage and sacrifice in saving thousands of persecuted people of different races and ethnicity during WWII.

Sixthly, if it is true that you are seeking a moment of “togetherness” within the Catholic Church regarding the canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac and in that togetherness you count on those who have started attending Holy Mass after Croatia was victorious in its secession from Communist Yugoslavia, for personal gain in political careers, please abandon that trail to Stepinac’s Sainthood. These men and women will abandon the Church at a drop of a hat should political winds in their country so dictate, just like they did during the life of Former Yugoslavia, just like their fathers and mothers had as followers of the Communist Party. Your Holiness, these people or their parents persecuted Blessed Alojzije Stepinac in 1946 with trumped up charges, not alleging but stamping him falsely as a Nazi collaborator, when the truth was that at the threat to his own life he saved thousands. Do you truly believe that these people will now confess this horrid sin of theirs?

And so, it is with a Christian fortitude and knowledge of forces, particularly those belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church congregation, which have purposefully pursued the destruction of Blessed Stepinac’s good reputation that I write this Open Letter to Your Holiness today, 25th September, on St. Sergius of Radonezh’s Feast Day, the Patron Saint of Russia who worked not only to spread monasticism and the sanctity of monastic life, but also to become a messenger of Christian values in a country then threatened by various internal divisions and external tensions.

God’s commandments are a most welcome help for conscience to get to know the truth and hence to judge verily. God’s commandments are the expression of the truth about our good, about our very being, disclosing something crucial about how to live life well and to bear false witness against our neighbour is a grave sin committed against Blessed Alojzije Stepinac by the Serbian Orthodox Church including Patriarch Irinej.

Your Holiness, Blessed Alojzije Stepinac deserves to bask in the glory of the truth and his name to not endure false witness for a moment longer.

Please announce his canonisation!

So please, Your Holiness, find the courage to stop this impasse in faith and this moral chaos your pursuit of dialogue on the canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac is causing. As the supreme authority of the Catholic Church, it would be one of most important, courageous and Christian act of your entire mandate because it would represent standing firmly on truth and rejecting historical fabrications and falsehoods that have been devastatingly promoted for decades. While we all are desirous of and pray for peace and unity, the Croatian and multitudes of other Roman Catholics will thank you and so would the great soul of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac who perished from torture and false witness against him, saying: “When they take everything from you, you will be left with two hands; put them together in prayer and then you will be the strongest.”

Ina Vukic, Prof. Psych. (ZGB); B.A., M.A.Ps, (SYD)

Open letter to Pope Francis in the Croatian language/Please click the picture below.

Otvoreno pismo papi Franji na hrvatskom jeziku/ Molim pritisnite na sliku dolje.

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