Relations between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches can hardly be referred to as friendly. Ukraine is the biggest stumbling block at this point, as Greek Catholics seize Orthodox temples there. The situation in the Balkans is far from being perfect too, where bellicose Catholics strive to convert the Orthodox Serbs to Catholicism and weaken Serbia as much as possible.
Pravda.ru interviewed Nemani Klaic, a Serbian historian, an outstanding member of the Orthodox community of Croatia, about the role of The Vatican in Balkan wars and about relations between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches.
Has The Vatican-led policy in Serbia undermined the idea of recreating the single Christian Church?
The first half of the 20th century has left many deep wounds in the history of the Serbian nation and the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Vatican has long striven to weaken Orthodoxy in the Balkans and maybe even to destroy it. It has been trying to do it peacefully, although it often happened that force was widely used to achieve the goal at all possible costs.
The Catholic Church in Croatia was helping The Vatican to execute its goals. It is worthy of note that on June 28 1914 the troops of the Austrian Empire entered Sarajevo to affect religious and national feelings of the Serbs. The heir to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand, was murdered, which became the reason to launch the war against Serbia and then World War I. Croatia was struggling on Austria’s side in WWI, although they later pretended to be victims of Vienna.
What was the price of establishing the new state of the Serbs, the Croatians and the Slovenians?
After the war the Serbian King Alexander wanted to united all Slavic nations – the Serbs, the Croatians and the Slovenians – into one state where everyone would be equal in terms of religion and nationality. However, Rome took certain efforts to make any kind of agreements between Serbia and Croatia impossible.
The Vatican openly disliked Yugoslavia. Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini had his own views on the Balkans, which coincided with interests of The Vatican in Serbia.
To implement its plans, The Vatican used the combination of religious and national chauvinism in Croatia. It was especially noticeable during the existence of the Independent State of Croatia in 1941-1945. The Roman Catholic Church was virtually collaborating with Croatian thugs.
Ivo Guberin, a Catholic priest, was the first to speak out for everyone. He said that they wanted to convert the Serbs to Catholicism with the help of the Yugoslavian state and a special agreement between the state and the church. When this plan became impossible, The Vatican lost its interest in friendly relations with Yugoslavia and started taking efforts to dismember the country.
Hundreds of thousands of Serbs, including priests, were sent to concentration camps during the years of World War II. Croatia offered three possibilities to the Serbs: to convert to Catholicism, to become a slave in work camps or to simply die. The consequences of all those historical events can be seen in current relations between Serbian and Croatian nations. About 200,000 Croatian Serbs were forced to flee in 1995, thousands of them were brutally slaughtered. Many Croatian butchers said that they were killing humans for the triumph of Catholicism. The Vatican has never repented for that.