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June 10, 2011

Serbian Church Will Not Invite Pope To Nis

Tanjug, N. Vlačo
July 6, 2011

The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) most likely shall not invite Pope Benedict XVI to attend the celebration of the 1,700 year anniversary of the Edict of Milan in the Town of Nis in 2013, since the Synod had not agreed about that, Tanjug was told at the Patriarchate in Belgrade.

As said by the Patriarchate, the Pope perhaps would have been invited had he during his visit to Croatia this weekend visited Jasenovac and paid respect to the victims of the concentration camp in which 700,000 Serbs and about 100,000 Jews and Roma were killed during the WWII.

That has not happened, but the Pope did visit the grave of Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac who was on trial after WWII for cooperation with the Nazis.

The Pope’s disputable praising of Stepinac proved how huge differences over Stepinac between the Catholic and Orthodox Church are.

Jovan Mirkovic, Director of the Museums of Victims of Genocide, does not agree with the Pope who said that Stepinac was saving the Jews, Serbs and Roma. ‘There are simply no proofs for such claims, but there are proofs about the Cardinal’s responsibility for the Ustashi crimes’, he says.

The Pope said in Croatia that Stepinac was a humanist who suffered under two totalitarian regimes – of the Ustashis and of the Communists. Like his predecessor John Paul II, Benedict XVI too paid respect to Stepinac at his grave in the Zagreb Cathedral.

In a statement to ‘Blic’ Federico Lombardi, Director of Vatican’s Office for media claims, said that there are testimonies that Stepinac was not supporting Ante Pavelic’s regime, that he was saving all he could and that serious historians have proved that. ‘There is data about the saving of Jews’, Lombardi said.

Jovan Mirkovic, former Director of Jasenovac Monument Park, says that ‘the Vatican’s thesis that Stepinac was saving Jews is without ground’.

‘Had he saved the life of a single Jew, Israel would have proclaimed Stepinac a righteous among nations. I think there were certain attempts to that direction but they all failed’, Mirkovic says.

As regards Stepinac’s relation towards the Serbs, everything is clear according to Mirkovic.

‘It is sure that he is responsibile for enforced conversion of Serbs to Catholicism. Secondly, large numbers of his priests were Ustashis committing crimes together with others. Thirdly, he was a supreme military priest and all military priests delegated to Ustashi units were under his authority. Stepinac knew about Jasenovac and all the horrible things that were going on there’, Mirkovic says.

Read also: The Record of Archbishop Stepinac