Pope Benedict pays tribute to Blessed Cardinal Stepinac of Croatia
History of Blessed Cardinal Stepinac
Namesake of our parish
Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac
"A Servant of God and the Croatian People"
Aloysius Stepinac came from a peasant family, born in Brezani near Krasic on May 8, 1898. He was the eighth out of twelve children, and his mother always prayed that he might one day become a priest. In 1916, Stepinac was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army and fought on the Italian front until he was taken prisoner. In 1919 he returned to civilian life and entered the University of Zagreb to study agriculture. Stepinac decided to become a priest in 1924 and was sent to Rome to prepare, and was ordained six years later on October 26, 1930.
He returned to Zagreb in July, 1931 with the degrees of Doctor of Theology and Philosophy. Soon afterwards, Stepinac was chosen to become secretary to Archbishop Antun Bauer. On June 24, 1934 he was nominated as coadjutor to the Archbishop of Zagreb. After this nomination, Stepinac stated: "I love my Croatian people and for their benefit I am ready to give everything, as well as I am ready to give everything for the Catholic Church." After Bauer's death on December 7, 1937 Stepinac became the Archbishop of Zagreb.
During the Second World War, Stepinac never turned his back on refugees, or the prosecuted. His door was always open not only for Croatians, but also Jews, Serbs and Slovenes that needed his help. Stepinac always stood for political freedom and fundamental rights, and he always advocated the rights of the Croatian people. Stepinac wanted Croatia to be a country of God.
In May of 1943, he openly criticised the Nazis, and as a result, the Germans and Italians demanded that he be removed from office. Pope Pious XII refused, and warned Stepinac that his life was in danger. In July of 1943, the BBC and the Voice of America began to broadcast Stepinac's sermons to occupied Europe, and the BBC commented on Stepinac's criticism of the regime.
At the end of the war, Stepinac was found guilty of Nazi collaboration at a mock trial, and was convicted and sentenced sixteen years' hard labour on October 11, 1946. At his trial when his life was on the line, Stepinac asked his communist prosecutors: "...every nation has the right to independence, then why should it be denied to the Croatians?" He spent five years in the prison of Lepoglava, and in 1951, Tito's government released him and confined him to the village of Krasic.
Even though he was forbidden by the government to resume his duties, Stepinac was named Cardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953. Due to pain caused by the many illnesses he contracted while imprisoned, Cardinal Stepinac died in Krasic on February 10, 1960. On February 13th, he was buried behind the main altar in the cathedral in Zagreb. Pope Pious XII stated that "this Croatian Cardinal is the most important priest of the Catholic Church".
In 1985, his trial prosecutor Jakov Blazevic admited publically that Cardinal Stepinac's trial was entirely framed, and that Stepinac was tried only because he refused to sever thousand year old ties between Croatians and the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Spelman commented on Stepinac by stating that : "the only thing Cardinal Stepinac is guilty of was his love for God and his homeland". On October 3, 1998 in Marija Bistrica, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Stepinac, and referred to him as one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church.
Without a doubt, Blessed Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac is one of the greatest Croatian patriots of the 20th century. He spent his entire life serving God and the Croatian people, demonstrating the importance of faith, charity and virtue.
Blaženi Alojzije Stepinac
Blaženi Alojzije Stepinac (Brezarić kraj Krašića, 8. svibnja 1898. - Krašić, 10. veljače 1960.), zagrebački nadbiskup i kardinal, proglašen blaženim 1998. Smatra se jednim od velikana Katoličke Crkve u Hrvatskoj.
Djetinjstvo je proveo u rodnom mjestu. Klasičnu gimnaziju završio je u Zagrebu. Za vrijeme Prvog svjetskog rata sudjelovao je u borbama na talijanskom i solunskom frontu, bio je ranjen i pet mjeseci zarobljenik. Iz rata se vratio kući s činom potpukovnika. Nakon studija u Rimu, zaređen je za svećenika 1930. godine. Na njegov prijedlog osnovan je Caritas Zagrebačke nadbiskupije, kojem je bio na čelu. Imenovan je nadbiskupom koadjutorom 1934. godine. Iste godine zaređen je za biskupa.
Postao je zagrebački nadbiskup 1937. godine. Kao žarki i neumorni propovjednik Božje riječi pohađao je svoju prostranu nadbiskupiju promičući Katoličku akciju, Caritas i pobožnost prema Djevici Mariji. Utemeljio je brojne nove župe i organizirao proslavu 1300. obljetnice evangelizacije hrvatskog naroda. Za vrijeme Drugog svjetskog rata pomagao je progonjene i patnike, zbrinuo je 500 prognanih slovenskih svećenika te 6717 bolesne i gladne djece. Prosvjedovao je protiv progona Židova i provedbe nacističkih zakona. U govoru 31. listopada 1943. ispred zagrebačke katedrale osudio je svaku diskriminaciju, rasnu, nacionalnu i vjersku, zatvaranje i ubijanje nevinih, otimanje i palež imovine i mirnih sela.
Nakon dolaska komunista na vlast, odbio je odvojenje Katoličke Crkve u Hrvatskoj od Vatikana. U montiranom procesu, osuđen je na 16 godina zatvora i prisilnog rada. Pet godina proveo je u zatvoru u Lepoglavi, a od kraja 1951. do svoje smrti 10. veljače 1960. godine u kućnom pritvoru u Krašiću. Papa Pio XII. imenovao ga je kardinalom 1952. godine. Umro je na glasu svetosti primivši svete sakramente. Vijest o njegovoj smrti objavljena je na naslovnicama dnevnih novina širom svijeta, a misa zadužnica služila se i u Rimu, Montrealu, New Yorku, Chicagu, Rio de Janeiru i drugim svjetskim gradovima. Pokopan je u kripti zagrebačke katedrale uz prisutnost mnoštva vjernika. Papa Ivan Pavao II. proglasio ga je blaženim 3. listopada 1998. godine u Mariji Bistrici.