Commission on Cardinal Stepinac Concludes 1st Meeting

Serbian-Croation, Catholic-Orthodox panel charged with task of analyzing historical record of WWII cardinal

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The mixed Commission of Croatian and Serbian experts, entrusted with the task of a joint re-reading of the life of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac before, during and after the Second World War, concluded today its first meeting, which was held in Vatican City.

The Commission was created by an initiative of the Holy Father, after various meetings and consultation with representatives of the Holy See, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Croatian Episcopal Conference, to respond to the need to clarify certain historical questions.

The Commission is charged with a scientific task, using the methodologies of historical sciences, based on the documentation available and its contextualisation. This will not interfere with the process of canonisation of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, which is strictly within the competence of the Holy See.

Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac served as the Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 until his death in 1960. Though recognized by most Croatians as a saint, some Serbs today charge Cardinal Stepinac with complicity in anti-Serb brutalities in the wartime independent state of Croatia, associating him with the Ustaša, a nationalist faction that arose in Croatia before and during World War II.

John Paul II beatified the cardinal in 1998.

Related: Pope Benedict XVI prays at tomb of Cardinal Stepinac during visit to Croatia, proposes him as model of fortitude

It is expected that the Commission will  have a series of meetings, which should conclude within 12 months.

The Commission is composed as follows:

Presidency under the “patronage” of the Holy See: Fr. Bernard Ardura, O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences.

Members of the Catholic Church of Croatia: Cardinal Josip Bozanić, archbishop of Zagabria; Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar-Duvno; Bishop Antun Škorčević of Požega; Dr. Jure Krišto, Croatian Institute for History; Dr. Mario Jareb, Croatian Committee for Historical Sciences.

Members of the Serbian Orthodox Church: His Eminence Amfilohije, Metropolitan of Montenegro and of the Littoral; His Eminence Porfirije, Metropolitan of Zagabria and Ljubljana; Bishop Irinej of Novi Sad and of Bačka; Bishop Jovan of Slavonia, Professor Darko Tanasković, ambassador and permanent delegate of the Republic of Serbia at UNESCO.

Related: Serbian president visits Pope Francis, discuss canonization of Cardinal Stepinac

The next meeting will take place in Zagabria on 17 and 18 October 2016.

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