ZADAR'S ECCLESIASTICAL ISOLATION
FROM THE CHURCH IN CROATIA MUST END
The Catholic Church in Zadar is still outside of the Croatian ecclesiastical framework. Since the way has been cleared for Croatia’s entry into the EU, a discussion has taken place in Split about the “irregular situation of the Zadar Archdiocese” on the occasion of the 31st Plenary Session of the Croatian Bishops Conference.
In an appeal to Pope Benedict XVI, Mons. Ivan Prenda, Zadar’s Archbishop, stressed that progress towards the spiritual wellbeing of Croatian people in Zadar is directly linked to the reintegration of their church into Croatian society and ecclesiastical territory. Also, Mons. Prenda noted that pressures from outside Croatia are intensifying regarding Zadar, as full EU membership approaches, and that full integration within the Croatian Church’s framework would eliminate such dangers.
Mons. Prenda stated that the justification for the establishment of a new ecclesiastical territory in Zadar, is as strong as the support for a new see in Dakovo. In an interview published by Glas koncila (Glas Koncila, broj 44, 30 Oct 2005) Mons. Prenda correctly referred to the Croatian peoples’ spiritual, historical, cultural, and geographical right to be integrated within one ecclesiastical framework:
“U prilog tome govore crkveni razlozi, pastoralni razlozi, povijesno-kulturalni i geografski razlozi te potreba crkvene integracije u okvirima nove hrvatske drzave. Mi smo jedan narod i jedna Crkva te sve govori da se i na crkvenom polju treba dovrsiti integracija. … Ovakav status Zadarske nadbiskupije zbog mnogih razloga trazi svoje pravo rjesenje.”
In the modern era, within the context of human rights, the ecclesiastical integration of Zadar with the rest of Croatia is long overdue. Mons. Prenda has given new hope to Croatian people through his discussions.
The ‘dangers’ spoken of above include the belief of some in Italy that Zadar should be reoccupied--but Zadar’s history, like Britain’s, pre-dates Roman occupation. Would it be reasonable for Italians to now re-occupy the military zone of Hadrian’s Wall in Britain, with a cohort of ‘Dalmatians’ or others from the Roman empire as in the 2nd century AD? The same standards should apply in Croatia, as in the rest of the EU. In addition, anti-clericalism in Zadar is the direct result of occupation by Venetians, by Italian administrators under the Hapsburgs, by Italian occupation after Versailles, and by Mussolini’s fascists. The legacy of those occupations is that the Catholic Church in Zadar has been isolated from the rest of the church in Croatia since 1917, under the direct administration of the Holy See.
In conclusion, the rights of Croatian people must be honoured. Croatian people have a right to expect the ecclesiastical unity of the Catholic Church in Croatia, and they have a right to experience spiritual advancement together as a nation. Therefore, the ecclesiastical unity of the Catholic Church in Croatia is one of many issues that must be resolved before Croatia enters the European Union.
Jean Lunt Marinovic