Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Delay Beatification, Jewish Group Asks

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Delay Beatification, Jewish Group Asks

Article excerpt

Vatican officials accepted without comment a letter from a global Jewish organization requesting that the beatification of a controversial cardinal be delayed until after a historical review.

Pope John Paul II was to beatify Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac Oct. 3 during a Mass at the Croatian national shrine. Declared a martyr for the faith by the pope in July, Stepinac is considered by some to have been a Nazi collaborator because he did not openly oppose a German-installed puppet regime in Croatia during World War II.

In a Sept. 25 letter addressed to Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked that the pope "postpone this beatification until after the completion of an exhaustive study of Stepinac's wartime record based on full access to Vatican archives."

The center said that the beatification plans were proceeding "despite public expressions of indignation" and asked that the beatification be postponed "in view of the bitter memories and current religious sensitivities in the structure of the ex-Yugoslavia, and also His Holiness' oft-repeated hope for reconciliation with the Jews."

Stepinac spoke in favor of the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime while he was archbishop of Zagreb in 1941, but the next year he denounced its genocidal policies. After the war, the communist government that came to power in Croatia, then an independent region of Yugoslavia, convicted Stepinac of collaborating with the Ustasha and sentenced him first to jail, then to house arrest in his hometown, Krasic, where he died in 1962. …

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