Posted by: the watchmen | April 13, 2008

Croatia____Dr Clive Gillis

Croatia, Rome’s Anvil In The Balkans

Crushing the Orthodox Church in Serbia – Part 2

Dr Clive Gillis

For centuries, it has been the ambition of the Vatican to crush the Serbian Orthodox Church. Croatia is the anvil on which she has sought to carry out her scheme in recent times. 

Croatia is gaining economic strength at an amazing rate.  It boasts a GDP twice that of Serbia Montenegro.  Amanda Lamb’s latest Channel 4 series, Place in the Sun, began by promoting this “increasingly accessible” and “beautiful” land for speculators.  Property prices have doubled in the last three years and the tourist industry is buzzing.  The prospect of a further huge hike in property values next year, when Croatia is admitted to EU membership, was held out to the British investor.


The Croatian idyll was intoxicating.  It now has all the stunning Dalmatian coastline stretching in a great sweeping finger down to just beyond Dubrovnik.  Nor does she have to share this priceless asset with the former Yugoslav hinterland any more.  Hers and hers alone is this seemingly endless coastline with its enchanting islands and lucrative marine potential.

Pope helps Croatia join EU


Croatia first sought EU membership in February 2003, proclaiming that the country “has a right to participate in this magnificent process”.  PM Ivica Racan swore that Croatia “had changed” and now desperately wanted to “share European values”.


The Vatican immediately went public.  A forthcoming Papal visit was trumpeted, with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano declaring to sceptics that, “this is undoubtedly a different Croatia that is welcoming the Holy Father”.


Scheduled for the beautiful sunshine of early June, Croatia had scooped the publicity attached to the late pontiff’s symbolic 100th trip.  Last time the world’s eyes were on Dubrovnic, the Serbs were shelling this beautiful medieval seaport to universal disapproval hyped by slanted reporting.  But suddenly it is 6th June 2003, and everything has been repaired.  The gleaming buildings are set off by the blue sea, with masses of pleasure craft bobbing about where Yugoslav gunboats once took aim.


We are shown John Paul II beatifying a local Mother Theresa, nun Marija Petkovic.  And in the process, seductive footage of Dubrovnic with the advertiser’s subliminal message – ‘Yes its safe and its beautiful, come and visit’ ‑ is syndicated worldwide.

Beatification was just a front


But the acceptable, beatified nun was a just a front.  As the BBCs Brian Barron repeatedly stated, this was in reality Vatican politics in action. John Paul II’s real task was to “publicly encourage Croatia’s application to join the EU as part of his vision for a reborn Balkans”.


The Pope’s next visit was to neighbouring Bosnia Herzegovina.  But he had to be careful not to spoil the impression created by his Croatian visit, where crowds everywhere had chanted, “We belong to the Pope, the Pope is ours”.  So he tactfully went all the way home again and then returned to Bosnia Herzegovina later in the same month and that only for a day.  The explanation for this apparently unnecessary double journey in a short period of time is interesting.  It seems that it took a week to remove all the anti papal posters and graffiti in Baja Luka, capital of Bosnia Herzegovina, which had been a victim of the Vatican’s policy of breaking up the Yugoslav Republic in order to arm Croatia against the Orthodox Serbs.

History forgotten


Young affluent Europeans and Britons are unaware of Croatia’s bloody past.  Their “holiday paradise” is not what it seems.  We have already described the mass murder of Serbs, together with Jews and gypsies in World War II when Ante Pavelic and Archbishop Stepinac were in power and responsible for wholesale barbarities that shocked even the Nazis.


Painter Edo Murti recalled the horrors of the Fascist state of Croatia of 1941.  He had never forgotten how, “as a young man, I went with my mother to a village to get potatoes,” and then, “in the blueness of the morning I saw a stretch of land, the size of a tennis court, completely white.  Then I caught a glimpse of a hand, head, hair appearing out of it. The Ustashi had killed Serbs from the village of Gutovac, thrown them into a pit and poured lime over it.  That explained the whiteness.”

Franco Tudjman


Franco Tudjman became President of Croatia in 1990.  He was an ardent friend of the Roman Catholic Church and spent ten years turning Croatia into a neo‑fascist state until his death in December 1999.  Even honest Croats were appalled at Tudjman’s doings.


The same Edo Murti, described as Tudjman’s “friend for decades”, could hardly believe what was happening to his country under Tudjman.  “I have seen photographs of Croatian tanks plastered in pictures of Ante Pavelic.  I see units of the Croatian army and barracks being named after war criminals and Ustashi cut throats Maks Luburic, Rafael Bohan and Jure Francetic.”  He bemoaned the rehabilitation of Mile Budak, the WWII minister of education and religious worship, who with Archbishop Stepinac’s backing, “had in 1941 publicly stated that forcible conversion, expulsion and extermination of the ethnic Serb minority was the official national policy”.  Budak was “a kind of our Goebels” being “turned into a saint”.


In 1999 new Croatian editions of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the anti‑semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion were best sellers. One sad Croat commented, “Passing through the streets of Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and other cities in Croatia, countless Croatian citizens, whose parents took part in the anti‑fascist Partisan struggle, are ashamed to see the works and photographs of Hitler and other Nazi and Ustashe criminals displayed in bookshop windows, adding that, “Their publication is a disgrace to Croatia and its culture,” and insisting that, ‘This is no acccident … in Tudjman’s Croatia”.


Tudjman even sought to have prominent Ustashes exhumed and reburied at the Jasenovic War Memorial.  The horrified Serbian Orthodox Church in Zagreb published an open letter to Tudjman: “How would the world react if someone were to propose that, in the name of all ‑ reconciliation, memorial monuments be erected to Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and other SS officials in the concentration camps of Dachau, Mathausen and Bergen‑Belsen?”


In March 1998 the Zagreb Jewish community reported that, “Catholic churches in Zagreb and Split continue to be used to propagate Pavelic’s ideology and his Ustasa movement,” and that in these churches, “it has become common practice to hold services for Pavelic when followers of his political ideas get together”.  There were regular reports of the desecrations of Serb and Jewish cemeteries.


Canonising Stepinac


The Vatican knew its moment.  A visit by John Paul II was announced for that October.  The object was to beatify Archbishop, later Cardinal, Alojzije Stepinac ‑ the same Stepinac who had been Budic’s colleague and the honoured tool of pope Pius XII in the Vatican‑led, Croatian Holocaust of World War II.


This beatification would be a Vatican triumph.  Such a cynical act could only have been pushed through in the atmosphere of Tudjman’s fascist rule.


As one commentator mused, “At his trial in post war Yugoslavia (Stepinac’s) only defence was ‘My conscience is clear’, a phrase that rings oddly hollow when juxtaposed to the day to day realities of the Ustashe state.  What kind of ‘saint’ could have a clear conscience in the face of the horrors that had been committed in the name of his religion and by people under his own supervision?  Only a morally bankrupt individual would feel so little responsibility and so little remorse.  Only a morally bankrupt church could take such a man for a saint.”


The Jewish Simon Wiesenthal Centre appealed to the Pope to postpone the beatification but the Vatican did not reply.  Instead, on 3rd October 1998, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Stepinac at a huge open‑air mass at Croatia’s foremost pilgrim destination, the Marian shrine dedicated to the miracle working black virgin at Marija Bistrica.  A 30 foot high image of Stepinac towered over the proceedings.  And to underline Vatican defiance the Pope also prayed before Stepinac’s scarlet clad embalmed remains encased in a huge eye level ornate glass sided tomb behind the high altar in Zagreb Cathedral.


Another commentator observed, “This was meant as a slap in the face to all Orthodox Serbs.  It would be like the Nobel Peace Committee awarding Adolf Eichmann a posthumous Nobel Prize for Peace.  The action demonstrated his (the Popes and the Vatican’s) total and profound contempt for the Serbian people, for the Orthodox religion, and for the legacy of 60,000 Jews killed in Ustasha death camps”.

Today’s anti‑Serb policies


Returning to the present day, even if the prosperity under President Stjepan Mesic has damped down Croatian fascism and even if Croatia is now on its best behaviour in order to enter the EU, it is an open question whether Croatia is, as the Vatican claims, “undoubtedly different”.


It is interesting to recall some words of the same Stjepan Mesic on 5 December 1991, following his resignation as President of Yugoslavia, he told the Croatian parliament: “I think I have fulfilled my task. Yougoslavia is no more”.  Mesic has tried to explain away these shameful words repeatedly in subsequent years.  “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”  In 1990, during a heavy downpour he said, “Also Serbs will sit under an umbrella,” meaning that they would be so few.

Religious freedom


The Croatian state has been forced to legislate for religious freedom.  In practice the Roman Catholic Church dominates institutions and Croatian state Radio.  Catholic Radio and Radio Maria are huge private stations. The country has Concordats with both Roman Catholic and Serbian Orthodox churches but the majority financial support goes to the Catholics.  All military chaplains are Roman Catholics.


Of the 400,000 Serbs deported in the 1990s, less than half have returned. Of 200 Serbian Orthodox priests, only 30 rained in Croatia, and by 2004 only 40 of the exiled priests had returned and that only on 3‑ to 12‑month permits which also deprive them and their families of health care and pension benefits.  An official policy of freedom to return is conveniently strangled in bureaucracy.


Human rights groups point to frequent cases of judicial, employment and housing discrimi­nation against Serbs.  In an overwhelming Roman Catholic school ethos history teaching is grossly slanted in Rome’s favour.  Rome has now got back most of her property seized by the Communists, but the Serbian Orthodox are continually frustrated.   The Serbian Orthodox clergy continue to report physical and verbal (“kill the Serb”) abuse, vandalism and arson.


The police are reluctant to take action and prosecutions are singularly unsuccessful.


Meanwhile Rome attempts to seduce the Serbian Orthodox with numerous oecumenical initiatives whilst herself retaining all her old intolerance.

General Gotovina


Gotovina was a war criminal but regarded by Croatia as a national hero.  He had brutally smashed the self‑proclaimed Krajina Serb Republic enclave in 1995.  “The 72‑hour operation,” we are told, “changed the course of the war.  In a frenzy of ethnic cleansing whole Serb communities were wiped out.  About 150 Serb civilians were killed ‑ and more than 200,000 left their houses in long columns of cars and tractors laden with possessions.”


Gotovina was indicted for war crimes in 2001.  Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who was in practice the Vatican’s foreign minister, insisted that, “the Vatican had no obligation to assist the UN’s war crimes tribunal in the Hague”. Chief Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro‑Valls was quick to back this statement publicly.


Gotovina was eventually arrested at dinner in a Teneriffe hotel in December 2005.  The arrest rate of Serbs for war crimes is double that of the Croat rate and the Serb trials are more public and showy.


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