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|Cardinal Stepinac a Saint ?|
Pope Pius XII called this Croatian Cardinal "the most important priest of the Catholic Church", and made him a Cardinal on January 12, 1953.
And on October 3, 1998, Pope John Paul II went to Croatia, the scene of Stepinac's service to beatify him, the last step before canonization and referred to him as "one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church." and proclaimed "Without a doubt, Blessed Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac is one of the greatest Croatian patriots of the 20th century. He spent his entire life serving God and the Croatian people, demonstrating the importance of faith, charity and virtue."
Cardinal Spellman said of Stepinac that : "the only thing Cardinal Stepinac is guilty of was his love for God and his homeland".
The Catholic Church has honored this "man of God", by naming schools after him, not just in his home country, but here in the U.S.A. (largely because of New York Cardinal Spellman's influence), such as Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY
"The Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) was a Nazi puppet state founded during World War II when in April 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, geographically encompassing most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, was invaded by the forces of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
The NDH was ruled by Ante Pavelic and the Croatian group of extremists and saboteurs called the Ustaše. His program was to purge Croatia of Serbs, by killing one third, expelling the other third and assimilating the remaining third (i.e. persuading them to embrace the country's official Roman Catholic faith). The first part of this Croatian national programme was achieved during WWII by a planned genocide in Jasenovac and other places all over NDH." . . .
"The Jasenovac complex of five concentration camps would become the place of murder of up to a hundred thousand people (some estimate that this camp was the third largest camp of WWII). Overall Ustaša death count is estimated at around 400,000 people, but all written records were destroyed to cover it up."
"On the same day as the German (Nazi) Army had entered the capital of Croatia (April 10, 1941), one of the chief Ustashi leaders, Kvaternik, proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia, and, while fighting between the Germans and the Yugoslav Army was still going on in the Bosnian mountains, Archbishop Stepinac called on the leader of the Ustashi and urged all Croats to support the New Catholic State. On that very day the newspapers of Zagreb carried announcements to the effect that all Serbian Orthodox residents of the new Catholic capital must vacate the city within twelve hours, and that anyone found harbouring an Orthodox would immediately be executed.
Ante Pavelic (was) the inspirer, creator and leader of the independent Catholic State of Croatia. He employed terrorism, political extremism and religious fanaticism with such ruthlessness as to outsmart even his two main Fascist protectors, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. He was the brains behind the assassination of King Alexander and other political murders which preceded the disintegration of Yugoslavia and thus the erection of his super-Nazi, super-Catholic independent Ustashi Croatia. He enjoyed the protection of Pope Pius XII, who helped him via diplomatic and monetary means to achieve his ultimate objective.
"While Ante Pavelic was transforming Croatia with a mailed fist, his religious equivalent, Archbishop Stepinac, facilitated the revolution by a timely nationwide mobilization of the whole of the Catholic Church. No opportunity was allowed to pass without Stepinac openly singing the praises of, or sprinkling with oral or holy-water blessings, the new Catholic Croatia, her great Leader Pavelic, the Duce, and the great Fuehrer. When dates commemorating the bloody ascent of Fascism to power were celebrated in Fascist Italy or in Nazi Germany, Stepinac, although in Croatia, celebrated them with no less fervour. Thus he punctiliously celebrated October 28, the day when, in 1922, the first Fascist dictatorship was installed in Italy. While Mussolini annually paraded His Black Shirt battalions in Rome on that date, Stepinac annually commemorated the march with speeches, prayers, and congratulations, distributed with equal generosity also to Hitler on his ever-gloomier succeeding April birthdays. When it came to his own new Fascist State, however, the archiepiscopal panegyrics became impassioned recommendations for everything done by the New Croatia. After Parliament was convoked in February, 1942, Stepinac, with all the sacred authority of the chief pillar of the Mother Church, asked the Holy Ghost to descend upon the sharp edged knives of the Ustashi."
If the first ingredient of Ustashi super-nationalism was race, the second was religion. The two could hardly exist independently, having been so closely intertwined as to have become almost synonymous. The word Croat, in fact, signified Catholic, as much as, in Croatia, Catholic came to signify Croat. If this was useful to Ustashi racialism, it was no less beneficial to Catholicism, in so far as, once the theory had been established that Catholic meant Croat, the idea that Croatia had to be totally Catholic not only became firmly rooted: it was turned into one of the basic tenets of the new State. The results of such an identification were portentous. For, while nationalism had embarked upon a policy of 100 per cent racialism, the Catholic Church had embarked upon an inevitable parallel policy of 100 per cent Catholicism. The two policies were in effect one single policy, the political authorities automatically furthering the religious interests of Catholicism, while the religious authorities furthered the political interests of Ustashi racialism.
The actual process of integrating the two into an inseparable organic, religio-political unit, not only was conducted by individual Catholics or Catholic organizations, like the Crusaders, or Catholic political leaders like Macek: it was promoted by the Catholic clergy prior to the birth of the Ustashi State. Catholic priests, in fact, vigorously preached Fascism before the Second World War. The Catholic Press, controlled by them, became Fascism's mightiest propaganda organ. In it they advocated the Fascist Corporate State, praised the Fascist Catholic dictators, and preached racial theories — e.g. the theory that the Croats were not of Slav descent, but were Gothic German. One of the founders of this race theory was a well-known Catholic priest, Kerubin Segvic, who as far back as 1931 wrote a book entitled, The Gothic Descendance of the Croats, with a view to creating racial odium against the Slavs, which was synonymous with "Orthodox."
"Within the briefest of periods, Pavelic and his
Ustashi had become the arbiters of the freedom, the life, and the
death of all men, women, and children in the New State of
Croatia, which in a matter of weeks was thus converted into the
most ruthless Fascist State in the world, including Nazi Germany.
Yet what was the attitude of the Catholic Church when faced by such an abominable transformation? The Catholic Church, represented by the Hierarchy and the Catholic Press, following Stepinac's example, promptly initiated a feverish campaign of praise for Pavelic and Hitler. A leader of "The Crusaders" wrote:
God, who directs the destiny of nations and controls the hearts of Kings, has given us Ante Pavelic and moved the leader of a friendly and allied people, Adolf Hitler, to use his victorious troops to disperse our oppressors and enable us to create an Independent State of Croatia. Glory be to God, our gratitude to Adolph Hitler, and infinite loyalty to chief Ante Pavelic."
A few days later, on April 28, 1941, Stepinac issued a pastoral letter, asking the whole Croatian clergy to support and defend the New Catholic State of Croatia.
"The active participation of so many Catholic leaders and Catholic clergy in the formation of the Ustashi State of Croatia had been possible only thanks to one thing: the consent of, and indeed instructions from, the leaders of the Catholic Hierarchy. This was proved from the very first by the incontrovertible fact that high and low clergy cooperated whole-heartedly with Pavelic. Catholic parishes, as well as Catholic Cathedrals, and, indeed, the very radio, were used as a political platform for Pavelic and the Ustashi. Witness Radio Zagreb, which on April l l, 1941, the day after Kvaternik and the German Army had entered the Croatian capital, instructed the people to welcome the German Army and "to seek answers to all questions from the Catholic parish offices, where instructions will be given about the future work."
"Honourable brethren, there is not one among you who did not recently witness the most significant event in the life of the Croatian people among whom we act as herald of Christ's word. These are events that fulfilled the long-dreamed-of and desired ideal of our people. . . You should, therefore, readily answer my call to do elevated work for the safeguarding and the progress of the Independent State of Croatia.... Prove yourselves, honourable brethren, and fulfill now your duty toward the young Independent State of Croatia."
The pastoral letter was read in every Croatian parish. It was also read over the radio. The impression it had on the people, and especially on the clergy, was indicated by Father Peter Glavas, who, during his trial after liberation, said in his own defense: "The order given by Archbishop Stepinac to the people over the radio to fight for the Independent State of Croatia constituted a political directive to the clergy." Like any other priest, he had to obey.
The Ustashi section of the clergy, which had been active in terrorism even before the war, did not need this circular to tell them how to act. Yet many who until then had hesitated, after Stepinac's instructions accepted his directives and actively engaged in supporting the Ustashi. The Catholic clergy did not join the Ustashi merely to chant Latin hymns. They joined in order to carry out the Ustashi racial and religious terror programs.
When Pavelic returned from Italy to Zagreb, to assume leadership of the New Croatia, he stopped in the town of Ogulin, on April 13, 1941, where he conferred with one of his most fanatical lieutenants, the Ustashi Catholic priest Canon Ivan Mikan. On that same day, in a public speech, Canon Mikan foretold the shape of things to come: "There will be purges," shouted priest Mikan. "Yes, there will be purges." On the same evening, not far from that region, the first Ustashi punitive expedition attacked individual Serbs in several villages.
Were these massacres committed only by the followers of Pavelic? They were often promoted and carried out by Catholic priests claiming to be the followers of Christ and the representatives of a Church trumpeting to the four winds that she preached universal love. It will suffice for us to mention only a few. The first Ustashi commandant in the District of Udbina was the Franciscan priest, Mate Mogus, who had organized the Ustashi militia and disarmed Yugoslav troops. At a meeting in Udbina on June 13, 1941, he gave the following homily: "Look, people, at these 16 brave Ustashi, who have 16,000 bullets and who will kill 16,000 Serbs, after which we will divide among us in a brotherly manner the Mutilic and Krbava fields"—a speech which was the signal for the beginning of the slaughter of Serbs in the district of Udbina.
In Dvor na Uni, priest Anton Djuric kept a dairy of his activities as an Ustashi functionary. The diary shows that on his orders the Ustashi plundered and burned the village of Segestin, where 150 Serbs were murdered, and that in the village of Goricka he arrested 117 people, who were sent to a concentration camp, where most of them were killed.
A group of Franciscan priests, who tortured and finally killed twenty-five Serbs in the village of Kasle, took photographs of their victims. In the village of Tramosnica, priest Ante Klaric became the first Ustashi commissar, the personally led Ustashi units in attacks on Serbian villages. He organized the Ustashi militia and, according to witnesses, spoke from the pulpit as follows:"
"You are old women and you should put on skirts, for you have not yet killed a single Serb. We have no weapons and no knives and we should forge them out of old scythes and sickles, so that you can cut the throats of Serbs whenever you see them."
Priest Bozo Simlesa, in the village of Listani, was one of the most active members of the Ustashi. He held the post of chief of the district of Livno. During the slaughter of the Serbs in the county of Listani he told the people from the pulpit that the time had arrived to exterminate all Serbs living in Croatia. He personally organized the Ustashi militia and obtained arms for them. On July 27, 1941, he held a meeting in the village, and when he was informed that all Serbian men had been murdered and that women and children were to be killed that night, he told them not to wait for the night, for twenty-four hours had already passed since the chief had issued his order that not a single Serb must be left alive in Croatia.
The Catholic Dean of Stolac, in Herzegovina, priest Marko Zovko, was responsible for the murder of 200 persons, whose bodies were thrown into a ditch in a field in Vidovo. Franciscan Mijo Cujic, of Duvno, personally gave instructions for the massacre of Serbs in the villages of Prisoje and Vrila, where not one person was allowed to remain alive.Were these the abominable deeds of some few individuals maddened by religious and racial fanaticism? Indeed they were not. They were an integral part of the official policy of the Catholic Church, which, screened behind the mantle of the Independent State, had inspired and promoted all the horrors which soaked the historical land of Croatia in a sea of blood."
At a Ustashi Meeting. (From right to left) Archbishop Stepinac; General Roata, Commander of the Fascist forces of occupation in Yugoslavia; Field Marsbai Slavio Kvaternik; and the Commander of the German forces of occupation in Croatia.
Orthodox worshippers, when not dispatched to concentration camps, suffered the same fate as their clergy. Congregations, unless willing to change their religion, were not only persecuted, hunted down and arrested; but, at times, besides being massacred by the Ustashi bayonets or machine guns, they were killed within their own churches.
To terrorize the population into becoming Catholic, the Ustashi very often hanged lay Orthodox Leaders and their Orthodox parish priests during mass executions under the very eyes of the faithful. This was one of the most tangible methods of "persuasion" whenever the Orthodox proved obdurate.
Those who escaped with their lives were sent to concentration camps, while about 700 that is, one quarter of the total number of Orthodox priests were murdered by the Ustashi in this manner.
The ordinary Orthodox clergy became the target of Ustashi Catholic ferocity. Priests were imprisoned, hunted down, or simply massacred. Orthodox priests, before being executed or hanged, very often were horribly tortured, e.g. Father Dobrosavlievich, from Velinn, who had to read the obituary of his own son, whom the Ustashi killed in his presence after horribly mutilating him.
On April 20, 1941, in the village of Svinjica, the Ustashi arrested the Orthodox priest, Father Babic, and after knifing him all over buried him, still alive, in an upright position.
Within a few weeks the Ustashi, encouraged by Catholic Padres, murdered 135 Orthodox priests, of whom eight-five came from one single Orthodox diocese.
Hundreds of Orthodox clergy perished thus only because they were priests of a religion which refused to join "the true Church."
"When Ustashi Croatia collapsed, Pavelic hid at the Vatican, then, disguised as a monk, fled to (Roman Catholic) Argentina, where he set up a Ustashi government, waiting for "the Day." Sundry Catholic hierarchies openly helped him in exile. Pre-war acts of terrorism were begun anew.
Pavelic became the victim of a murder attempt himself. He died shortly before and after the deaths of his two main ecclesiastical supporters, Pope Pius XII and Cardinal Stepinac, still dreaming of resurrecting anew Catholic Ustashi Croatia."