DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     October 8, 1998     vol. 9, no. 197

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- At his weekly public audience today, Pope John Paul II continued his pattern of discussing his most recent foreign journey. He said that the beatification of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, the highlight of his visit to Croatia, exemplified "the victory of the Church of Christ over totalitarian ideologies."

          That victory, the Holy Father told his regular Wednesday audience, also proclaims the primacy of the fundamental human rights ordained by God, and a victory for "conscience over violence and abuse of power." Finally, he said, the example of the beatified cardinal manifests the power of "pardon and reconciliation over hatred and vengeance."

          Cardinal Stepinac, the former Archbishop of Zagreb, is thus a symbol of the destiny of the Croatian Church and her mission to promote reconciliation, the Pope continued. Croatian Catholics now face the duty to pardon and to rebuild, "purifying their memory of rancor and conquering evil by good."

          The tradition of martyrdom, embodied in the Croatian prelate, is a constant factor in Church history, the Pope said. He pointed out that the persecution of prelates could be traced to the days of the Emperor Diocletian. In a historical irony, the Catholic cathedral in Split, Croatia, is now built on the foundation of what was once Diocletian's palace in the region.

          Cardinal Stepinac, he said, represents "the entire tragedy which has struck Europe in the course of this century, marked by the grave evils of fascism, Nazism, and Communism." The Croatian hero gave "the Catholic response" to all these ideologies: "faith in God, respect for men, love confirmed by pardon, and unity with the Church guided by Peter's successor." Cardinal Stepinac was prosecuted by the Communist regime because he refused to lead the Croatian Catholic Church in a break from Rome.

          The Pope expressed his hope that the Catholic faithful of Croatia would devote themselves to the defense of human life, the promotion of close family ties, and the spiritual formation of young people. He underlined the need to recognize the nation's spiritual heritage, and to heal the wounds caused by a succession of oppressive regimes.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
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October 8, 1998       volume 9, no. 197


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