At the opening of the 56th Theological-Pastoral Week on 26 January 2016, Cardinal Josip Bozanić and Apostolic Nuncio to Croatia Msgr. D’Errico addressed some headlines and confusing news regarding the canonization of Blessed Cardinal Stepinac.
Bozanić said that he, as the successor of the blessed Cardinal, cannot be indifferent to false allegations. Allegations which say that he, other Croatian bishops and even the Pope himself deceived the Catholics in Croatia.
“I cannot be indifferent toward the ugly accusations that say that I and the Croatian bishops, have misled the public, that they are maliciously remaining silent, that they have offended the Holy See and the Pope himself. It is painful to hear this and, therefore, I appeal to you, dear priests, not to be deceived by media attacks and not to join in the spirit of such deliberate works of propaganda and interpretations.”
The Pope, as we could read in media, never stopped Cardinal Stepinac’s canonization:
“As I have already said many times, the canonization of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac has not been called into question because it is an internal matter of the Catholic Church. What has already been done will not be re-examined. There will be no auditing of the process, which is nearly complete.”
He further explains the Croatian Catholic-Serbian Orthodox Commission:
“The working group consisting of experts from the Catholic Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church under the auspices of the Holy See, which was initiated by Pope Francis but has not been formed as yet and should complete its work within a short time, will not affect the canonization process but has the purpose of joint reflection upon the role of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac during the Second World War, in the hope that the work of this group will serve to burnish the reputation of the Beatus and contribute to a reconciliation between the Churches and peoples.”
This was an attempt, Bozanić said, made to use Cardinal Stepinac and Pope Francis for political objectives and to divide the Church in our country. (Read the whole statement here.)
Commenting on Cardinal Bozanić’s statement, the Apostolic Nuncio to Croatia, Msgr. Allesandro D’Errico, said he met with the Pope on 17 December 2015. Francis said that he “does not oppose Stepinac’s canonisation or that he has anything against the Croatian people”.
The reason Pope suggested the commission is “because he felt there could be renewed tensions between the two Churches and nations“. The commission must be viewed as “an ecumenical gesture and a step out to the periphery, a spiritual periphery where the Church is open for discussion on various factors” said the Pope. The commission will consist of 3 to 5 experts from both churches, said the Nuncio, and the first meeting will be held in Rome.
L’Osservatore Romano, 2 days after Pope Francis received a delegation from Serbian Orthodox Church, also addressed this matter in an article from 18 January 2016 entitled Purification of memory and cultural ecumenism: on relations with slavic Orthodox churches. The joint working group will be “in charge of studying the history of relations between Croats and Serbs during World War II in order to contribute to the “purification of memory“.