The Archbishop of Zagreb:
“Antifascism in Croatia is nothing more than a way of hiding crimes
committed by Tito’s Partisans and Yugoslav Communists”
During his homily, given August 25th with approximately 300 priests and twenty bishops present in the Istrian town of Lanischie for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the murder of a local priest, Miloslav Bulesić, killed by the partisans in 1947, Croatian Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb, underlined that “often, antifascism in Croatia is nothing more than a way of hiding crimes committed by Tito’s partisans and Yugoslav communists”. He continued, “We need to let young people know that what often too easily is indicated as antifascism here in Istria, but also in other areas of Croatia, is nothing more than a way of hiding crimes carried out by Tito’s partisans. The head of the Croatian Catholic hierarchy used strong tones and terms against crimes committed by Marshall Tito’s regime which, according to the Church’s estimates, was responsible for the murder of nearly 300 priests in Croatia, during and after the Second World War.
The Croatian press immediately gave voice to his affirmations. The Cardinal reminded those present that no one was ever tried or sentenced for partisan crimes. “The crimes committed by Italian fascists and German nazis could not and cannot be” he went on to say, “a cover for communist crimes.”
Echoing his words was the Bishop of Gospić and Senja, Mile Bogović, known for his strong right-wing leanings, who wanted to commemorate “the 302 priests murdered in that era, representing a quarter of the total number or priests in Croatia at the time, the majority of which died under Tito’s partisans, and in a small percentage under Italians and Germans.”
A bloody and complex era of history, that which was commemorated by the Croatian Catholic hierarchy. A substantial number of historians agree on the thesis maintained by the Croatian Catholic Church regarding Tito’s crimes against clergy, placing them in the context of the Yugoslav communists’ struggle to eliminate enemy classes and ideologies. Many of the murdered priests were open supporters of the Croatian Ustashas, who were pro-Nazi, and thus were executed as collaborators.
Another page of history, that of the Italian priests tortured and murdered by the same partisans: they were guilty, so to speak, of two crimes: they were both ministers of the Church, and Italians. For them, who were simply carrying out their ministry as priests without taking sides in either regime, the ferocity of the Yugoslavs was atrocious: they were suppressed in the most horrific of manners, and still await, after all these years, recognition of their martyrdom.
(traduzione di Lorie Ballarin)