The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, begins a visit to Croatia on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Holy See’s recognition of the independence of the Croatian Republic, and says an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine would have devastating consequences for the world.
By Vatican News
The Holy See’s concern over a “possible escalation” of the war in Ukraine was expressed on Wednesday by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, during a meeting with the press in Zagreb on the occasion of his visit to Croatia.
He was there for the 30th anniversary of the Holy See’s recognition of the independence of the Croatian Republic and the 25th anniversary of the ratification of three treaties between the Vatican and the Balkan country. The cardinal arrived in the Croatian capital on Tuesday evening.
“Bearing in mind the destructiveness of the weapons” possessed today, he said, a widening of the conflict would threaten “the destruction of all humanity”.
He then recalled Pope Francis’ strong words against the folly of war and his willingness to do everything to contribute to peace, offering Vatican mediation and also saying he was ready to go to Moscow, an offer that has so far not been accepted.
“It seems that at the moment there is little hope, that a consensual conclusion to the war can be reached,” but the Holy See remains available to help put an end to this war as soon as possible, the Cardinal said.
Mass in Zagreb
In his homily during Mass in Zagreb, Cardinal Parolin said, “the darkness of war obscures even the light of human reason and seems to defeat even common sense. For the past two years, we have been living in the darkness of the pandemic, without knowing what to do. Every attempt at a solution seemed inadequate.”
After the pandemic came the conflict in Ukraine, he noted. “In such ‘dark’ experiences we find ourselves disoriented,” he said, “but the light of the Risen Christ is stronger and gives hope and consolation, also through his witnesses.”
Among these, he cited Blessed Alojzije Stepinac: “In these times of war in Europe,” he concluded, “it is worth having recourse to his intercession. Today, like him then, we are faced with the evil that is born in the hearts of men and tends to occupy minds and souls.”
Meeting with the Croatian bishops
The visit to Zagreb began on Wednesday morning with a meeting with the Croatian bishops, to whom he brought the Pope’s greetings and closeness.
“Over the centuries,” the cardinal said, “the Croatian people have always shown undeniable loyalty to the Apostolic See. For their part, many Popes have cherished the growth of close ties with the Croatian people and have shown countless signs of benevolence towards this Church and this land. After years of the communist dictatorship, during which everything was done, through bloody and systematic persecution, to sever the ties of the Croatian people with the Successors of St. Peter, on 25 June 1991, Croatia, together with Slovenia, proclaimed its independence from the then Yugoslavia.”
One of the concrete signs of the Holy See’s closeness to the Croatian people, he stressed, “was precisely the recognition of Croatia’s independence on 13 January 1992. As is well known, the Holy See was among the first to take this step and, less than a month later, on 8 February 1992, the Holy See and Croatia established diplomatic relations, the first in the more than millennial history of the Croatian nation.”
“In these 30 years,” the Secretary of State added, “the country and the local Church have taken very important steps, which the Holy See has followed with keen attention. A few years after independence, the Government recognized the special historical and cultural role of the local Church, as well as its social position, and signed and ratified four bilateral Agreements with the Holy See, between 1996 and 1998. The Military Ordinariate and five other dioceses were established. Religious instruction in schools and the teaching of Theology in State Universities has returned. The Croatian Catholic University in Zagreb was opened, as well as several Catholic schools, and numerous churches were built or renovated,” he said, “and thus, thanks to their joint efforts, good relations were established between Church and State”.