Joint Press Release of the Inter-Church Commission on Cardinal Stepinac

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Church of Serbia – 18/7/17

Communique of the Inter-Church Commission of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Croatian Bishops’ Conference

The fifth and last meeting, chaired by the President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Science Fr. Bernard Ardura, which was held at Saint Martha’s House (Domus Sanctae Marthae) in Vatican, on 12 and 13 July 2017, gathered members of the Joint Commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox experts to jointly consider the figure of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb.

As representatives of the Croatian Conference of Bishops in this Commission acted: Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic; Bishop of Pozega, Dr. Antun Skorcevic; Bishop of Mostar, Monsignor Ratko Peric; as well as Dr. Jure Kristo and Dr. Mario Jareb, Scientific Advisors with the Croatian Institute for History.

As representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the work of the Commission participated: Metropolitan of Montenegro and Littoral Dr. Amfilohije; Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana Dr. Porfirije; Bishop of Backa Dr. Irinej; Bishop of Slavonia Jovan, Prof. Dr. Darko Tanaskovic, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Serbia at UNESCO.

The participants recognized noble-mindedness of Pope Francisco who graciously accepted the request of Serbian Patriarch Irinej and decided to establish this Commission.

All members of the Commission are thankful for the cordial atmosphere in which they with a full freedom of speech were able to fulfill the task entrusted to the Commission, namely, to deal together with the life of Cardinal Stepinac.

Since the beginning of the work of the Commission, its members were aware of the fact that the process of canonization of Cardinal Stepinac was exclusively in the jurisdiction of the Pope. The members of the Commission also admitted that each Church had its own criteria for canonization.

The members of the Commission also agreed that their work enabled a better understanding of the history in the years between the First World War and 1960, which is the year of death of Cardinal Stepinac. It was also possible to highlight the life and ministry of an important Catholic shepherd in a particularly problematic historical period.

It was concluded that various events, performances, writings, silence and attitudes are still subject to different interpretations. In the case of Cardinal Stepinac, the interpretations mostly provided by Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs still remain different.

While studying the life of Cardinal Stepinac it became obvious that all the Churches were subjected to cruel persecutions and had their martyrs and confessors of faith.

The Committees agreed on the possibility of a future cooperation, in terms of joint work in order to share memoris of martyrs and confessors of faith in both Churches.

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