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.

A Cautionary Epistle To Pope Francis In Relation To Serbia’s Fabrications Against Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

Sarcophagus of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac in Zagreb, Croatia

Sarcophagus of
Blessed Alojzije Stepinac
in Zagreb, Croatia

 

Papal power is not absolute. The Pope does not have the power to change teaching (or) doctrine. The Pope does not have the power to reverse the Beatification of Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac but, uncomfortably as it may sit with many, the Pope can slow down the process of Canonisation of Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac as Saint in the Catholic Church.
There has been much uneasiness spreading within the 85% Roman Catholic Croatian population about the visit on Friday 11 September 2015 of Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolic to the Vatican, to meet with Pope Francis and enter into issues relating to the canonisation of Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac – or rather Serbia’s views on it – as one of the talks agenda. Furthermore, President Nikolic and Pope Francis have reportedly discuss the establishment of a joint commission of the Serbian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches that will study “historical facts related to WWII and Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac’s role in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).”

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) STepinac

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) STepinac

It is well known that both the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbian state oppose the canonisation of Blessed Stepinac, accusing him unjustly of supporting the Fascist regime in Croatia, which they say was responsible for the deaths of Serbs in Croatia in World War II. The commission would study historical evidence to determine his role, which is and has been widely disputed. Serbia and its political allies say that he supported the Fascist regime aligned with the Nazis while many Croats (guided by factual findings through research of archives, such as that of Dr. Esther Gitman) oppose the communist Yugoslavia picture concocted about Stepinac, still actively promoted by Serbs and some former communists in Croatia. The facts are that Blessed Alojzije Stepinac saved and rescued many lives of Jews, Serbs and Roma.

 

Does Pope Francis truly understand Europe if Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolic is one of his advisers on the canonisation of Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac – asked journalist D. Likic on Croatia’s news portal Maxportal. In continuance of such a sentiment of doubt, one truly wonders whether Pope Francis understands the past role President of Serbia actually played in the tragic and genocidal war of Serb aggression against Croatia in 1990’s? One truly wonders whether the Pope realises the terrifying significance for Croatian people Tomislav Nikolic’s incitement to hatred and crimes against Croats has and had? One truly wonders whether Pope Francis realises that Serbia’s President is one of the powerful personalities who keep denying and hiding the terrible role WWII Serbia played in the perpetration of the Holocaust – by May 1942, 94% of Serbia’s Jews were exterminated so that Serbia could announce it was one of the first European countries to be free of Jews. Serbia’s powerful keep telling the world that it was the occupying Nazis who exterminated all those Jews in Serbia – wrong! Serbia’s government and people who supported it collaborated with the Nazis, marked the Jews for extermination and brought them to extermination camps.
If the Pope realises all that, then perhaps the commission formed between the Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Church has and will discuss all the historical facts of WWII, including those relating to the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church and this role meant peril and death to Jews, Croats and others. Including the fact that, judging from its past behaviour and statements, the Serbian Orthodox Church has no intention or morality to accept the true facts about the Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac and his deeds of rescue and saving of persecuted people. So, why would one want someone who has proven himself to be so biased and hateful against Croats in advance on a commission or committee deciding on facts in WWII Croatia?
Truly baffling! Truly disquieting!
According to Serbia’s news agency Tanjug, following the meeting with Pope Francis, Nikolic told Tanjug that he had had a very open discussion with the Pope about Cardinal Stepinac during which he had told the Pope that Cardinal Stepinac had played a very bad role in World War II.

He (Stepinac) should at least not have remained silent when someone is killing … citizens just because they are not of (Roman) Catholic faith,” Nikolic said.

The problem with this statement from Nikolic and all Serbia’s political and church leaders is that they choose, with evident intentional malice, to ignore the facts discovered (e.g. by research conducted by Dr. Esther Gitman) after government archives were opened in late 1990’s/early 2000’s when communist Yugoslavia finally fell. These facts irrefutably point to the absolute truth that Cardinal Stepinac, organising rescue missions and actions that would save lives also protested in writing against any killings done under the WWII regime, he became aware of, but his protests fell on deaf ears just as they are falling on deaf ears of Serbia today! Serbia’s Nikolic would like us to think, it seems, that an Archbishop (Stepinac) in WWII was more powerful that the country’s governmental leadership! Why else would he ignore Stepinac’s protests of which he is well aware?

Pope Francis speaks with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, during a private audience at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (Claudio Onorati/Pool photo via AP)

Pope Francis speaks with
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic,
during a private audience at the Vatican,
Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.
(Claudio Onorati/Pool photo via AP)

Serbia’s president Nikolic boasted that the Pope had told him at one point that he was in no rush to declare the cardinal a saint. If that is true, it is sad and pathetic.

I think that I have come across a man who knows a great deal and who understands everything and who has accepted almost every statement and suggestion I put to him. This was a meeting between people who understood each other straight away,” Nikolic boasted further to the Serbian media.
God forbid! God forbid if Papal belief should be so easily filled!
Perhaps in the context of this commission established between the Catholic and the Serbian Orthodox Churches, and in the context that Serbia’s leaders and its Orthodox Church have been and still maliciously insist that Blessed Alojzije Stepinac is guilty of WWII crimes he had no part in committing or power to prevent, Pope Frances will find a way to point a revealing light on actual WWII facts for Serbia and wipe once and for all the foul drivel flowing out of Serbian political and religious leaders’ mouths for decades.
Pope Francis’ path so far has shown him as a kind of a revolutionary man; a man who only last week broadened the power of priests to forgive women who commit what Catholic teachings call the “mortal sin” of abortion during his newly declared “year of mercy” starting in December. On last Sunday, 6 September, he called for “every” Catholic parish in Europe to offer shelter to one refugee family from the thousands of asylum-seekers risking all to escape war-torn Syria and other pockets of conflict and poverty. He repeatedly has denounced unrestrained capitalism. His attacks on “compulsive consumerism” and industrial damage to the world’s ecology came to a head during a fiery July speech in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He said poor nations shouldn’t be mere sources of raw materials and cheap labor, and called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil”:

Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system,” he said, “it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”

Pope John Paul II Praying at the body of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac in Zagreb Croatia

Pope John Paul II
Praying at the body of
Blessed Alojzije Stepinac
in Zagreb Croatia

Many of the 265 popes before Francis championed serious causes. Most recently, John Paul II crusaded against communism and beatified Croatia’s Cardinal Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac, and Benedict XVI decried moral drift that devalued human lives. Now comes Pope Francis’ determination to help people by the hundreds of millions escape destitution. Excellent. Perhaps during his visit to the United States this coming week he’ll discuss how market economies already have let other hundreds of millions prosper, and bless capitalism for its saving grace. Give credit where credit is due for in this day and age, without capital or money, there can be no welfare and no humanitarian aid. Perhaps, at some point he will publicly reflect on the meeting with Serbia’s Tomislav Nikolic and loudly pronounce that Nikolic’s malicious fodder cannot and will not stain the blessed and saintly soul and deeds of Cardinal Stepinac. That would match the courage and the leadership the Pope has shown in many instances so far. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb);B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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