Stepinac and Communism

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Stepinac and Communism

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CARDINAL STEPINAC AND COMMUNISM

When they assumed power in Croatia after the Second World War communists liquidated the majority of intellectuals, professors, writers, academicians,priests, monks and nuns, who by their knowledge and reputation differed from the communist type of person, allegedly because of collaboration with the occupiers. Finally it was the turn of the highest spiritual authority, the Zagreb archbishop Aloysius Stepinac. A part of Stepinac's following prophetic vision then came to pass which he recorded in his diary as early as November 5, 1940 : „If Germany wins there will be a horrible terror and destruction of small nations. If England wins the power will remain in the hands of freemasons, Jews, therefore immorality and corruption will triumph in our country. If the USSR wins the devil and hell will gain power over the world“.


In August 1940 Stepinac said that the principles of the Catholic Church are incompatible with communism , because communism wishes to tear away the human soul from God. The communist doctrine, Stepinac added, impoverishes man, because by losing his religious ideal man loses his feeling for his fatherland, and he loses the meaning of life. Life without God is hell. (M.Landercy, Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, Đakovački Selci 1989, p. 74). In October 1943 in his speech held in front of the Zagreb cathedral Stepinac said, among other things, the following: „The Catholic Church has always condemned, and does so even now, every injustice perpetrated in the name of class, race or nation. Gypsies and Jews should not be exterminated from the face of the earth because they are allegedly an inferior race. Nobody has the right to kill a or to harm in any other way members of another race or nationality as such.We have always emphasized in the public life the principles of God's eternal law, whether it be the case of Croats, Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, catholics, muslims, orthodox or of anybody else. The Catholic Church does not recognize the division of races into master races and slave races.. The Church also cannot agree with a system which wants to deprive the farmer of his land, the craftsman of his home, or of his other ownership which he acquired by the sweat of his brow, the worker of the fruit of his work, and every man of his soul…We cannot recognize the system which denies the personal God, Creator of the world, and which confines the confession of faith in God within four walls where nobody sees or hears you (above quoted book,p.92,94). This speech had a favourable repercussion all over Europe and America, and it was skilfully used even by the communist partisans in their forests who printed it as a leaflet and distributed it to their fighters.When they assumed power in Croatia the communists endeavoured with all means to make Stepinac agree to sever the ties of the Catholic Church in Croatia with the Vatican, and to found an independent Croatian Catholic Church, which, like the Serbian Orthodox Church, would become a state church under the direct influence of the communist rulers. This would inevitably lead in the future to a union of these two churches, and thereafter very probably to a union of the Croatian and Serbian nations in an artificial Yugoslav nation, which would be in actual fact a greater-Serbian nation.


When the communists did not succeed in this, the first imprisonment of Stepinac from May 17,1945 to June 3,1945 took place. The following day after Stepinac came out of prison a meeting took place between Josip Broz Tito and Stepinac. And as Tito offered Hitler in 1943 military collaboration in the occupied Yugoslavia, which Hitler refused with disgust, so also Tito offered his collaboration to Stepinac in 1945 if the archbishop of Zagreb would sever the link between the Croatian Catholic Church and the Vatican, which Stepinac refused. (Pero Simić, TITO, strictly confidential, Zagreb 2010,p.34,35). It was an interesting meeting.On one side Tito, a communist Narcissus, Staljin's underling and at the same time Churchill's protege, an unprincipled careerist and at the same time a bolshevik dogmatist, the informer who denounced to Stalin in Moscow his party colleagues which cost them their life, an agent of Komintern and a collaborator of the Russian intelligence service NKVD, and, on the other hand, a self-denying ascetic, the man who declared before the communist court that for his christian conviction he was ready not only to suffer, but also to die. When Tito failed to persuade Stepinac to sever the link between the Catholic Church in Croatia and the Vatican there followed threats, physical attacks and attempts to assassinate Stepinac (in Zaprešić during his inauguration of a new parish), slanders in the media, written calumnies on street walls. Stepinac and the Catholic Church were fiercely attacked, with the blessing of the communist secret service UDBA, by freemasons, notably by dr. Viktor Novak and Dušan Tomić. Because of this Stepinac wrote protest notes accusing the communists of heavy crimes which were taking place daily, of the killing of priests, of the staged trials before the so-called people's courts. In these letters of protest he wrote that the Croatian people did not suffer even under the Turks as it suffers under the communists, that the victims are especially the Croatian intellectuals for the simple reason that they had an employment in the Independent State of Croatia , and he stated in conclusion; „Judging by the actions of the present authorities it seems that from 1941 to 1945 one was not allowed even to live“. However the strongest condemnation of the communist crimes was contained in the pastoral letter of September 20, 1945 in which Catholic bishops, led by the archbishop of Zagreb, mentioned, among other communist crimes, convictions and executions of many innocent priests, prohibition of Catholic press, the closing of seminaries, abolition of Catholic private secondary schools, obstructions in the performance of religious duties, harassment of members of the Catholic female orders, communist barbaric behaviour regarding the tombs (plowing up and obliterating the tombs of the „public enemies“) cruelty and torture in the communist prisoner camps etc. After the pastoral letter there followed in November of the same year a circular letter of archbishop Stepinac in which he expressed his grief that the communist authorities prevent him from performimg his apostolic duties outside of Zagreb. In this circular letter Stepinac also alleged that he, bishops, priests, monks and nuns were being attacked with all means at political gatherings, in the media, by public slogans on the walls, by slanders and defamations and by maliciously distorted interpretations of the statements of priests. After the circular letter the communists resolved to imprison Stepinac.Tito, who won the battle against the Yugoslav king, could not bear to lose it against a Catholic archbishop- and moreover in his (Tito's) own communist state (R.Oraški). Therefore at the command of Tito , in all probability a highly positioned european freemason (Mladen Lojkić, Freemasons against Croatia, Zagreb 2010, p.294), there followed a rigged trial. whose main hearing took place on September 3, 1946 . On October 11, 1946 Stepinac was sentenced to 16 years hard labour and 21 years loss of civil rights. The dignified carriage of Stepinac before the communist judges is well known , as is his saying that he does not need their mercy, because his conscience is at peace. During his imprisonment in the notorious communist prison of Lepoglava, a systematic poisoning of Stepinac was carried out. It is believed that he was exposed to radiation from the adjoining prison cell which destroyed his bone marrow and which caused the grave illness of polycytemia. In that disease great quantities of unripe red blood-corpuscles (erythrocytes) enter into the blood stream, so that the patient experiences tiredness and general weakness, he loses appetite, becomes anaemic, his immunity rapidly weakens and he dies. When Stepinac began to feel ill, the communist authorities were afraid that he could die in prison and that the international community could demand an obduction under the supervision of foreign pathologists. Therefore they transported him to his native place of Krašić and held him there under house arrest until he died on February 10, 1946. During the embalment of his body, one of the physicians who performed it, at the request of the then administrator of the Zagreb archbishopric dr. Franjo Šeper, hid his heart, embalmed it separately and preserved it for the needs of the Church. When after two years the communist intelligence service UDBA found this out , they confiscated the Cardinal's heart and burned it in the small crematorium of the outpatients' department of the Secretariat of Internal Affairs in Zagreb in Šarengradska street, and threw away the ashes. But the barbarity and hate of the communist authorities went even further. When in 1993 the exhumation of the Cardinal's body took place in order to establish that he had been systematically poisoned, traces of carbolic acid were found injected into his blood vessels, in consequence of which the remains of the Cardinal's embalmed body disintegrated. The communist power-holders wanted by this to wipe out the traces of poisoning. So it comes as a pleasant surprise, that an objective judgements about Stepinac was given after the Second World War by Tito's right-hand man Milovan Đilas, who said this to the Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović: „To tell you the truth I think, and I am not alone in this conviction, that Stepinac is a righteous man, steadfast in character, who cannot be broken. He was convicted although innocent, but it frequently happens in history that righteous men are convicted in order that some political goals could be achieved….We have nothing against his Croatian nationalism, but we cannot tolerate his loyalty to the Pope in Rome. We remove everything that stands on our way. The end justifies the means …Had he proclaimed the Croatian Church as separated from Rome, we would have raised him to the clouds.“ (Vladimir Horvat, Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, Zagreb-Samobor-Krašić 2008, p.196).


Allow me at the end to quote the words of the late Croatian Cardinal Franjo Kuharić which he said in Rome on December 13, 1990, at a gathering organized by the Papal International Marian Academy in collaboration with the Croatian St.Jerome's Institute and the Croatian community in Rome. On that occasion Cardinal Kuharić said also this: „Between October 1946 and February 1960 Stepinac wrote many letters, especially to bishops, priests, monks and nuns, which letters are mostly about high spirituality.He was very resolute in his encouragement to perseverance, and he expressed the belief that communism will not last long. Today we can barely believe that this collapse takes place before our eyes. But let us be convinced that this is the outcome of many prayers, many tears and much suffering.“


Like his Teacher Stepinac was a witness with his life to the gospel of love, which is also the title of the three sizeable books containing the biography, documents and statements of witnesses in connection with Aloysius Stepinac, now officially proclaimed as blessed. This material has been collected by monsignor Juraj Batelja. Stepinac consented to be crucified by the communist Caiaphases and Pilates of the 20th century. But in spite of the recent attempts by the recycled communists in Croatia to rehabilitate those Caiaphases and Pilates under the slogan of antifascism (Stalin was also an antifascist), they disappeared in shame from the stage of history together with the criminal communist ideology, while Stepinac, like his Teacher, remains a shining ideal of the love of God, of homeland and of mankind. In the words of the well-known Americal bishop Fulton Sheen, Stepinac entered the court room as a spiritual leader of the Croats, and left it not only as a leader of his people, but also as a bright example to the world.
Onomu koji vas može očuvati od pada i postaviti neporočne i razdragane pred Njegovom slavom,jedinomu Bogu koji nas je spasio po Isusu Kristu,našemu Gospodinu,slava, veličanstvenost,vlast i moć, kako prije svakog vremena,tako i sada i u sve vijeke! Amen.
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