by Shaun Willcock
During his visit to Croatia in June this year, the pope of Rome, Benedict XVI, prayed at the tomb of Alojzije Stepinac, a Croatian Roman Catholic cardinal who was archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960. And he encouraged Croatian Roman Catholics to look to Stepinac, who has been declared “Blessed” by the Papacy, as a model “of apostolic zeal and Christian fortitude.”
At first glance, most would see nothing remarkable, and certainly nothing sinister, in this. But they would be very, very mistaken. Who was this man, Stepinac?
The Whitewashed Version
According to no less a Roman Catholic authority than the Roman pontiff himself, Stepinac defied Hitler during World War Two to save Jews from the Nazis, and then when Croatia became part of Yugoslavia, and thus Communist under Josip Tito, he was persecuted by the Communists and even died a martyr. Here are the words of Benedict: Stepinac, he said, was “a fearless pastor and an example of apostolic zeal and Christian fortitude, whose heroic life continues today to illuminate the faithful of the dioceses of Croatia, sustaining the faith and life of the Church in this land.” He went on: “The merits of this unforgettable bishop are derived essentially from his faith. In his life, he always had his gaze fixed on Jesus, to whom he was always conformed, to the point of becoming a living image of Christ, and of Christ suffering. Precisely because of his strong Christian conscience, he knew how to resist every form of totalitarianism, becoming, in a time of Nazi and Fascist dictatorship, a defender of the Jews, the Orthodox and of all the persecuted, and then, in the age of communism, an advocate for his own faithful, especially for the many persecuted and murdered priests.”
Heaping praise upon praise, Benedict added: “Christian martyrdom is in fact the highest measure of holiness…. Blessed Alojzije Stepinac responded with his priesthood, with the episcopate, with the sacrifice of his life: a unique ‘yes’ united to that of Christ. His martyrdom signals the culmination of the violence perpetrated against the Church during the terrible period of communist persecution.”
So much for the spin. Now for the grim and terrible truth.
The Croatian Ustashi Massacre of Serbs During World War Two
It is astounding how adept the Papacy is at re-writing history, to make the evil appear good and the good, evil (Isa. 5:20). Over and over again, through the centuries, Rome has made “saints” out of the vilest of men, and held them up to the Roman Catholic faithful as models to emulate, after first whitewashing them so well that very few are able to discern the filth beneath the whitewash. This is eminently so in the case of this man, Stepinac. The Second World War is now 66 years in the past; Rome has had many decades in which to whitewash its monsters from that era. And new generations, indoctrinated and brainwashed, make heroes out of the monsters of yesteryear. It has ever been thus, and ever will be in this fallen world. We see it with supposed political “heroes”, men who deserve no praise or adulation considering their wicked lives and yet upon whom the world heaps honours as the truth is whitewashed over: Gorbachev and Mandela are two modern examples. And we see it with supposed religious “heroes” as well: some modern examples being men such as John XXIII, John Paul II, and Desmond Tutu. Sometimes, those who re-write history don’t even see the need to wait till men are dead anymore, such is the shortness of memory and ignorance of history of so many today.
Before we look at Stepinac himself, a short history lesson is essential. Let us go back to World War Two. Not all that long ago that terrible world tragedy was enacted, and yet how quickly the true facts are forgotten by the older generations, and how comprehensively those facts have been hidden from the younger generations.
Croatia during World War Two was a fanatical Roman Catholic state, allied to Nazi Germany. Ante Pavelic was the leader of the Ustashi, a fanatical and sadistic Croatian terrorist organisation. When Yugoslavia was destroyed by Hitler and Mussolini in 1941, Pavelic and the Ustashi were brought in to rule the new state of Croatia. Croatians were predominantly Roman Catholic by religion, and the creation of this state enabled a bloodthirsty Roman Catholic leadership to mercilessly persecute unto death those who were not Roman Catholic by religion: specifically the Serbs who lived in Croatia and were Eastern Orthodox by religion, but also Jews and Gypsies. And in what was the most horrifying religious massacre of World War Two, at least 700 000 Orthodox Serbs were brutally massacred by Roman Catholic Croats, spurred on by their priests, bishops and archbishops. In fact, in many cases Romish priests actually participated in the terrible slaughters. The choice given to the Serbs was simple: convert to Roman Catholicism, or die.
It is all thoroughly documented, and it makes horrifying reading. Here are the words of historian Edmond Paris: “The greatest genocide during World War Two, in proportion to a nation’s population, took place, not in Nazi Germany but in the Nazi-created puppet state of Croatia. There, in the years 1941-1945, some 750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 26,000 Gypsies – men, women and children – perished in a gigantic holocaust.” And: “It would be difficult to find a parallel of such ferocious persecution in all history.” And historian Avro Manhattan wrote: “During the existence of Croatia as an independent Catholic State, over 700,000 men, women and children perished. Many were executed, tortured, died of starvation, buried alive, or were burned to death. Hundreds were forced to become Catholic. Catholic padres ran concentration camps; Catholic priests were officers of the military corps which committed such atrocities.”