FROM MODERN SERBIAN AND YUGOSLAV HISTORY
THE ROLE OF VATICAN AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE EXTERMINATION AND CONVERSION OF SERBS IN THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA
In first days of the Independent State of Croatia first leaders of the ustashe formations and main cooperators of Ante Pavelic, the ministers Mile Budak, MilovanZanic and MirkoPuk exclaimed the standpoint of their state toward Serbian Orthodox Christians. On June 6, 1941 in Krizevci during the Ustashe Assembly which had started with the Mass, Mile Budak talked about the extermination of the Christian Orthodoxy. Mile Budak used the fact that the assembly was started with the mass to claim that the state of the ustashe was “Christian state”. On this occasion he exclaimed: … Our state is the state of two religious denominations – the Roman Catholic and Muslim ones”. He spoke against the Orthodox Christian Serbs defining them as “intruders” and “enemies of Croatian people”, declaring that “the Serbs moved the foundation stone of the Christian Orthodoxy from the east to the west at the expense of Roman Catholicism” and that “God Willing their foundation stone will disappear from the Croatian state, as it was prohibited to place the borderline stones on other people’s plowed fields”. Today in 21st century in the archives there are documents which prove planned deportations, conversions into the Roman Catholicism and liquidations of the Serbs on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, among which in particular stand out two acts of Ante Pavelic’s “ministries”, proving the violence by which such conversions into the Roman Catholicism were executed. On June 30th 1941 the Ustashe government brought an act-document No. 48468/41 about the conversion from the Christian Orthodoxy into the Roman Catholicism, which proved that it was declared as “the state politics” and not as the act achieved by the cannons, as they could not provide for fast massive conversions into the Roman Catholicism. In this document it was written that the conversion of the Orthodox Christians into Greek Catholic ritual (which was closer to the Orthodox Christians) was not desirable thing to do, and it was insisted that the Orthodox Christians had to be converted exclusively into the Roman Catholic ritual. The converts had to enclose the confirmation on their “personal chastity” “in agreement with the Ustashe concentration camps and tabors” and also inform “the Ministry of Justice and Respect to God”. In this act-document it was written that such document was prohibited to be issued, with some exceptional cases allowed, to “the Christian Orthodox priests, merchants, rich artisans and peasants and intellectuals in general”… This fact indicates that this was political violence executed by terrorist methods, that the people were differentiated and that it was determined in advance he was to be converted into the Roman Catholicism and who was to be liquidated or deported from the state. In this context there was a great role of robbery, as in particular the rich people were determined to be liquidated or deported, so that they were robbed of their property. The intellectuals were also determined for the liquidations. The other act-document was the document issued on July 14th 1941 by “the Ministry of Jurisdiction” to “the Bishop Ordinariats of the Independent State of Croatia”: “We are asking from the Respected Ordinariat to confidently inform all parish offices about the conversion of the Orthodox Christians into the Roman Catholic church. Under no means the Orthodox Christians will be allowed to convert into the Greek Catholic church. The Croatian government’s intention is not to allow the Orthodox Christian priests, teachers and in general intellectuals and members of rich class of merchants, artisans and peasants the conversion due to possible later acts related to them and in order not to cause any possible discomfort to the faith and reputation of the Roman Catholicism… Lower and poor Christian Orthodox masses were allowed to be converted into the Roman Catholicism after they go through education about the Roman Catholic truths. In case that the formerly mentioned people still insist to be converted themselves, they had to be in some appropriate way kept in catechumenate or to be banished in some other way.” From the tone of this document it is possible to realize what kind of the cooperation there existed between the hierarchical top people in the Roman Catholic church in Croatia and the Ustashe government. They totally confidently agreed on the methods of liquidation of the Christian Orthodoxy and so the Ustashe government sat up the limits for the conversions in accord with the Roman Catholic church in Croatia for purpose of providing to the Ustashe government an easier way for implementation of further methods designed for cruel liquidations of the Serbs in Croatia.
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