Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Patron Saint of Genocide: Archbishop Stepinac and the Independent State of Croatia


Stepinac Croatia Ustashe genocide Catholic war crimes denial cover-up Nazi historical revisionism

"Only a godless ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people."

John Paul II speaking at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, March 23, 2000

DESPITE A LOT OF TALK about apologies, the Catholic Church stands ready to anoint a patron saint of genocide. On October 4, 1998 Pope John Paul II traveled to the Republic of Croatia to beatify [1.] that country's national hero, Alojzije Stepinac, the Archbishop of Zagreb during the Second World War. In so doing he underlined the real commitment of the Catholic Church to stand by its history, no matter how barbaric. Officially, Stepinac was honored as a martyr of the Church's most recent crusade, its crusade against communism. But in making this fanatic a saint, the pope is absolving Stepinac of complicity in crimes of genocide against Serbs, Jews and Roma (Gypsies) that took place in the Nazi puppet state of Croatia during the Second World War. This act belies the sincerity of the church's recent and well-publicized campaign to cleanse its past by admitting in a very general way that mistakes were made. [2.] In beatifying Stepinac, the pope makes common cause with those who deny that this holocaust ever took place.

By making Stepinac a saint, the Catholic church is trying to bury one of the darkest chapters of its own recent history with honor. In Croatia, the church did not merely turn a blind eye to genocide, it was an active and enthusiastic participant. Priests and monks took part in atrocities, bishops promoted anti-Semitism and vilified Serbs at the very moment the Jews and Serbs were being exterminated, and forced conversions took place all across Croatia. All the while, the Vatican stood by, waiting to see whether or not this social experiment would advance its interests. The church has yet to apologize for, or even acknowledge the existence of, this genocide. Now Saint Stepinac stands in the way of memory and responsibility.

After the collapse of Yugoslavia, on April 11, 1941, the Nazis installed a puppet regime in Croatia headed by Ante Pavelic, a terrorist and head of the clero-fascist Ustashe movement, as leader or "poglavnik." Pavelic and his followers had been in exile in Italy under the protection of Mussolini and was wanted in both France and Yugoslavia for orchestrating the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou. The regime he established in Croatia with the help of his Nazi patrons, the NDH (Independent State of Croatia), was run by the Ustashe party, an organization which combined fascist and Catholic ideologies and which aimed to build a Croatia cleansed of its ethnic and religious rivals, the Eastern Orthodox Serbs.

The identity of the state itself was based more on religious affiliation than on ethnicity, with the fanatically Catholic Ustashe determined to solidify their control through a combination of forced religious conversions, expulsion and outright extermination.  (more...)

The Patron Saint of Genocide: Archbishop Stepinac and the Independent State of Croatia


Clero-Fascist Studies Project

Vatican Bank Claims

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