Slovenia in Denial Over Anti-Catholic Intolerance, Says Church

Ljubljana Archbishop Takes a Professor to Task

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, SEPT. 1, 2003 ( The archbishop and metropolitan of Ljubljana criticized a professor’s attempt to gloss over evidence of the anti-Catholic intolerance in this country.

«We witness with consternation the misrepresentation of the facts of events that leftist thinking can effect in the reality of our nation — to say nothing of the consequences deriving from a university culture that is still strongly ideological,» said Archbishop Franc Rode.

He was censuring an interview that Sreeko Dragos, professor of the sociology of religion at the city’s Faculty of Social Sciences, gave Aug. 22 on the Pop TV network.

The Italian bishops’ SIR agency reported that during the interview, Dragos said that in no way did he have the impression «that the threshold of religious intolerance in Slovenia was increasing.»

He also said that he could not remember «any fact provided in the last years by public opinion surveys that demonstrated intolerance toward Catholic citizens, that is, toward the majority of the population.»

Such an affirmation, SIR said, differs from an earlier complaint of Auxiliary Bishop Anton Stres of Maribor, the president of the Slovenian bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission. The bishop expressed his concern about the growing intolerance toward the Catholic Church in the country.

In particular, Bishop Stres complained about various profanations against Marian images and crucifixes, acts of vandalism against churches and sacred buildings, and the fact that in Koper a municipal councilman blocked the ringing of the cathedral’s bells on Aug. 15, solemnity of the Assumption and a public holiday.

Heading the list of profanations is a picture of the Virgin of Brezje, venerated by Slovenian Catholics. A distorted image of this Virgin appears on the CD cover of a musical group.

According to Church officials in Slovenia, none of the government’s representatives has condemned these actions explicitly.

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