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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Joint statement issued regarding Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac

On 12 and 13 July 2017, the members of the Mixed Commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox experts met for the sixth and final time at the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican under the leadership of Reverend Father Bernard Ardura, President of the Pontifical Comittee for Historical Sciences in order to study together the figure of the late Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb.

Representing the Episcopal Conference of Croatia, those in attendance were:
His Eminence, Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb;
His Excellency, Antun Škvorčević, Bishop of Požega;
His Excellency, Ratko Perić, Bishop of Mostar-Duvno;
Doctor Jure Krišto, and Doctor Mario Jareb from the Croatian Institute of History.

Representing the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, those in attendance were:
His Eminence, Amfilohije, Metropolitan of Monenegro and Litorale;
His Eminence, Porfirije, Metropolitan of Zagreb and Lubiana;
His Excellency, Irinej, Bishop of Novi Sad and Bačka;
His Excellency, Jovan, Bishop of Pakrac and Slavonia; and
Professor Darko Tamasković, Serbian Representative at UNESCO.

Those in attendance recognize the magnanimity of Pope Francis who willingly welcomed the request presented by the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irinej, and decided to set up the Commission.

All the members are grateful for the cordial climate in which, with full freedom of speech, they have been able to fulfill the mandate entrusted to the Commission, which is to carry out a common re-reading of the life of Cardinal Stepinac.

From the beginning of their work, they are aware that the process of canonization for Cardinal Stepinac is the exclusive competence of the Pope.  They also recognize that each Church has her own criteria for the procedure to be followed in the process of canonization.

The members of the Commission have also recognized the fact that their work has permitted a better understanding of history between the years of the First World War and 1960, the year in which Cardinal Stepinac died.  It is also possible for them to illustrate the life and the ministry of an important Catholic Pastor, during a particularly troubled period in history.

They have come to the conclusion that various events, interventions, writings, silences and positions taken are still subject to differences in interpretation.  In the case of Cardinal Stepinac, the predominant interpretations provided by Catholic Croats and Serbian Orthodox still remain divergent.

The study of the life of Cardinal Stepinac has taught us that throughout history, the Churches have suffered cruelty due to various persecutions and each possesses her own martyrs and confessors of faith.  In this regard, the members of the Commission agreed to the possibility of future collaboration in view of working together to share the memory of martyrs and confessors of their respective Churches.
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