Protest to Vatican over intent to declare Stepinac saint

ZAGREB - Alen Budaj, an associate of the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, has said that the coutries that are legal successors to the former Yugoslavia, Serbia in particular, must send a strong diplomatic protest to the Vatican over its intention declare Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac a saint.

The Vatican has officially confirmed that Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac will soon be declared a saint.

Immediately upon the entering of the Germans in Zagreb, on April 10, 1941, Stepinac supported the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (ISC), which was declared a state by the Ustasha (Croatian fascist movement), and in 1945, he fought for the preservation of the regime headed by Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic.

Budaj believes that a protest against sanctifying Stepinac, who took part in the creation and implementation of NDH ideas during World War II, needs to be made even at the cost of breaking off diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

“I hope that the Serbian Orthodox Church will react, since this particular decision made by the Vatican is also undermining the ecumenical relations between the two churches,” Budaj said, stressing that Israel and many Jewish institutions in the territory of the former Yugoslavia should react to this strongly and immediately.

It is not at all surprising that the new Pope Francis is proclaiming Stepinac a saint, as that road was mapped by the Catholic Church in Croatia immediately after the verdict against Stepinac had been delivered, said Budaj, who is also director of the Margel Institute, a Jewish NGO in Zagreb.

On October 11, 1946, Stepinac was found guilty of high treason and war crimes - for his relations with the Croatian Ustasha and collaboration with the...

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