The Holy See and the Croatia: Over Thirteen Centuries of Friendship

Conference Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations

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By Pietro Gennarini

The 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia was celebrated yesterday with a conference at the Pius IV Casina in the Vatican. In the presence of Mr. Zoran Milanović, President of the Republic of Croatia, His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, reflected on the long history of Croatian “fidelity to the Gospel and to the Successor of Peter” even under difficult circumstances. He retraced some key moments of this history, especially in relation to the most recent pontificates and in the time elapsed since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In 879, the Pope addressed a letter to Prince Branimir of Croatia informing him of the prayers raised so that “principatum terrenum, quem habes, prospere et securiter reggere possis” (you may govern in prosperity and security the earthly principality you have), recounted the prelate to describe the intensity of these ties.

He also quoted the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his recent pastoral visit to Croatia: “We may number more than thirteen centuries of strong and special ties, tried and consolidated through circumstances that at times were difficult and painful. This history is an eloquent testimony of the love of your people for the Gospel and the Church. Since the beginning, your nation belonged to Europe and, in a peculiar way, contributes to it those spiritual and moral values which for centuries have shaped the daily life and identity, personal and national, of its children” (Welcome Ceremony at Zagreb Airport, June 2, 2011).

The speech recalled the three visits of Blessed Pope John Paul II and that of Benedict XVI as expressions of the Holy See’s great affection for Croatia and then lamented the absence of one of the conference’s participants, His Excellency Archbishop Giulio Einaudi, first Papal Nuncio to Croatia. He underlined the latter’s contribution to the intensity of these relations especially when facing some of their greatest challenges in the immediate aftermath of Croatian independence.

“Through Papal Representatives, the Holy See is able to facilitate dialogue with civil Authorities, to promote contact with the local Church and retain its influence on international life,” remarked the prelate on the importance of the Papal Nuncio. Currently it is His Excellency Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico.

He underlined that, “although Church and political communities operate on different levels and are independent of each other, both serve the same subjects. At the same time, these are the Church’s faithful as well as citizens of the State. In this work, there is ample space for dialogue and cooperation in service to the dignity of every man. In fact, at the heart of this mutual cooperation, is our shared commitment to the common good and the promotion of spiritual and moral values. These confer on Croatian society its firm foundation.”

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