Joint Press Release of the Inter-Church Commission

Communique of the Inter-Church Commission of
the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Croatian Bishops’ Conference

The sixth and last meeting, chaired by the President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences Fr. Bernard Ardura, and  held at Saint Martha's House (Domus Sanctae Marthae) in Vatican, on 12 and 13 July 2017, gathered the members of the Joint Commission of Croatian Catholic and Serbian Orthodox experts to jointly consider the figure of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb.

As the representatives of the Croatian Conference of Bishops in this Commission there  were Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic; Bishop of Pozega, Dr. Antun Skorcevic; Bishop of Mostar, Monsignor Ratko Peric; as well as Dr. Jure Kristo and Dr. Mario Jareb, Scientific Advisors with the Croatian Institute for History.

As the representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the work of the Commission there  were Metropolitan of Montenegro and Littoral Dr. Amfilohije; Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana Dr. Porfirije; Bishop of Backa Dr. Irinej; Bishop of Slavonia Jovan, Prof. Dr. Darko Tanaskovic, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Serbia  to UNESCO.

The participants recognizedgenerous act of Pope Francisco who graciously accepted the request of Serbian Patriarch Irinej and decided to establish this Commission.

All members of the Commission were thankful for the cordial atmosphere in which they with a full freedom of speech were able to fulfill the task entrusted to the Commission, namely, to jointly consider the life of Cardinal Stepinac.

Since the beginning of the work of the Commission, its members were aware of the fact that the process of canonization of Cardinal Stepinac was exclusively in the jurisdiction of the Pope. The members of the Commission also admitted that each Church had its own criteria for canonization.

The members of the Commission also agreed that their work enabled a better understanding of the history in the years between the First World War and 1960, which is the year of death of Cardinal Stepinac. It was also possible to highlight the life and ministry of one important Catholic shepherd in a particularly troubled historical period.

It was concluded that various events, presentations, writings, silence and attitudes are still subject to differing interpretations. In the case of Cardinal Stepinac, the interpretations mostly provided by Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs still remain  divergent.

While studying the life of Cardinal Stepinac it became obvious that all the Churches were exposed to cruel persecutions and had their martyrs and confessors of faith. Therefore, the members of the Committee agreed on the possibility of a future cooperation, in terms of joint work in order to share memories of martyrs and confessors of faith in both Churches.

Translated by the Information Service of the SOC