Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Aloysius Stepinac - a bad example

The pope's recently visited Croatia ... Croatia's bid to enter the European Union backed by Pope Benedict. In reading about the pope's visit I came upon something rather disturbing - mention of Aloysius Stepinac by the pope as a "heroic" example to others. Here's a little about Stepinac from Wikipedia (see the page for footnotes) ....

Aloysius Viktor Stepinac (Croatian: Alojzije Viktor Stepinac, 8 May 1898 –10 February 1960) was a Croatian Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960. In 1998 he was declared a martyr and beatified by Pope John Paul II ....

During World War II, on 6 April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by Nazi Germany, who established the Ustaše-led Independent State of Croatia. As archbishop of the puppet state's capital, Stepinac had close associations with the Ustaše leaders during the Nazi occupation, had issued proclamations celebrating the NDH, and welcomed the Ustaše leaders. Stepinac also objected against the persecution of Jews and Nazi laws, helped Jews and others to escape and criticized Ustaše atrocities in front of Zagreb Cathedral in 1943.

After the war he publicly condemned the new Yugoslav government and its actions during World War II, especially for murders of priests by Communist militants. Yugoslav authorities indicted the archbishop on multiple counts of war crimes and collaboration with the enemy during wartime. The trial was depicted in the West as a typical communist "show trial", biased against the archbishop; however, some claim the trial was "carried out with proper legal procedure". In a verdict that polarized public opinion both in Yugoslavia and beyond, the Yugoslav authorities found him guilty of collaboration with the fascist Ustaše movement and complicity in allowing the forced conversions of Orthodox Serbs to Catholicism.

After foreign and domestic pressure, Stepinac was released from Lepoglava prison. In 1952 he was appointed cardinal by Pope Pius XII. Stepinac died while still under confinement in his parish, almost certainly as the result of poisoning by his Communist captors. In October 3, 1998, Pope John Paul II declared him a martyr and beatified him before 500,000 Croatians in Marija Bistrica near Zagreb. This again polarized public opinion .....

- Ante Pavelić, leader of the Ustaše, and Alojzije Stepinac

I think this is another example in which the Catholic Church, in a reaction against communism, became bedfellows with a destructive fascist regime (think Franco and the Spanish Civil War). The Ustaše was a horrible combination of Catholicism and Nazism in Croatia which persecuted Jews, Serbs, and Roma. Especially disturbing is the involvement of Catholic clergy and the Vatican with the Ustaše (link). I don't think Stepinac is anywhere near what I'd call a good example for others. Here's a bit of another news story on the subject .....

[...] Earlier on Sunday Holocaust survivors voiced regret over pope's stop at Stepinac's tomb.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants labelled the cardinal in a statement as an "avid supporter of the Ustasha."

"Holocaust survivors join all victims of the Nazi-aligned Ustasha regime in wartime Croatia in expressing disappointment that Pope Benedict would honour Cardinal Stepinac,"it said in a statement.

"Stepinac was an avid supporter of the Ustasha whose cruelties were so extreme that they even shocked some of their Nazi masters," it said.
However, the Holocaust survivors estimated that though the pope was "right in condemning the evil Ustasha regime; he was wrong in paying homage to one of its foremost advocates."
- Pope Benedict XVI praises Croat cardinal as 'defender of Jews', European Jewish Press


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you masy want to do more research about this. Check into Abp Joseph P. Hurley. He was there at the trial there is a new book about this subject.

10:42 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for the information.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update your information about Aloysius Stepinac and the truth will set you free! Read Dr Esther Gitman's book "When Courage Prevailed: the Rescue and Survival of Jews in Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945"

2:36 AM  

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