Pope in Sarajevo, urges lasting ethnic and religious peace (Reuters, June 6, 2015)

…”The cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city…war never again,” he said at a Mass for some 65,000 people at the stadium of the city that was once a symbol of ethnic and religious diversity in socialist Yugoslavia. This unwound in the war and Bosnia remains hamstrung by its legacy, divided along ethnic and religious lines…Earlier at a meeting with the three-member Bosnian presidency, Francis said peace initiatives between Bosnia’s Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks showed that “even the deepest wounds can be healed by purifying memories and firmly anchoring hopes in the future.” […]

About purifying those memories. It would go a long way to “heal the wounds” if some people could first admit to having made them. Seventy years and counting. (That is, years we’re waiting to hear about the still largely unknown genocide of the Serb Orthodox by Croatian Catholics, with the knowledge of the Church.) You can’t get past something until you’ve fessed up to it. Otherwise, what you’re asking is to go around it. All while having the gall to ask the victim side to apologize for much more recent crimes (1990s), which were much more two-sided.

Meanwhile, no surprise to hear no apology or mention about the very recent mass that Croatians held for their WWII fuehrer (yet again) on Dec. 28th, inside the Basilica of the Heart of Christ.

As Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff wrote on Jan. 1:

Try and imagine the following scenario…[O]n the seventieth anniversary of the death of Adolf Hitler, a memorial mass is held in the center of Berlin in the one of the city’s most important churches, which by chance happens to be located several hundred meters from the offices of the Jewish Community, and is attended by thousands who come to pay their respects to the founder of the Third Reich.

But its Croatian equivalent took place only two days ago in Zagreb, where several hundred people attended a memorial mass in memory of Ante Pavelic….one of the biggest mass murderers in the history of World War II…After the war, Pavelic was able to escape to Argentina via the infamous “ratlines,” the escape network established by Austrian bishop Alois Hudal with the help of Croatian priest Krunoslav Draganovic…One would assume that almost a quarter of a century after Croatia became a democracy, and having been recently accepted as a full member in good standing of the European Union, that such adulation for one of World War II’s biggest mass murderers would have been a thing of the past….

[T]he fact that two senior priests led the ceremony is also cause for concern. One of the them, the Dominican Vjekoslac Lasic is notorious for initiating this mass, as well as for his eulogy at the funeral of former Jasenovac commander Dinko Sakic, in which he noted that although Sakic did not observe all the Ten Commandments [Thou shalt not commit murder, for example-E.Z.], he still can serve as a model for Croatia…

As of the writing of this op-ed, not a single Croatian political or religious leader or public figure has condemned Sunday’s ceremony, which is another indication of the failure of the country’s leadership to help eradicate the vestiges of fascism and intolerance. […]

And why should they? They’re already in the EU, so the joke is on us.

Jerusalem Post had a few interesting factoids, including that anti-fascist Croatians held a protest in front of the church:

…Protesters yelling “Oppose the glorification of fascism” and other anti-fascist slogans pushed against police, who blocked them from entering the church…In a 2012 speech before the Knesset, Croatian President [Ivo] Josipović apologized for his nation’s role in the Holocaust and asked that survivors forgive Croatia. [Still no apology to the Serbs, though.]

…Thirty-three percent of Croatians harbor anti-Semitic views, according to a recent Anti-Defamation League global survey, with over half of the respondents in that country saying they believed that Jews were more loyal to Israel than to their countries of residence, that they hold too much power in business and that they speak too much about the Holocaust. […]

Maybe because Croats still haven’t admitted their full role in it? Meanwhile, the loyalty accusation against Jews is particularly rich, given that Croatia’s Jews betrayed the Serbs to side with Croatia in its aggressive 1991-95 war:

Among the most vocal campaigners for international recognition of Croatia two years ago, Jewish leaders are distressed…[that] the Croatian authorities have tacitly condoned efforts to play down Ustashe atrocities and have exonerated some of the perpetrators…The Croatian government, many observers believe, cannot afford to ignore protests from its Jewish community, whose support bolstered the republic’s request for international recognition after it seceded from Yugoslavia. “Our lobbying gave them moral credibility at a time when they were often depicted as anti-Semitic or neo-fascist,” said Mr Matic, who feels the charges were then largely unfounded. But if attempts to rehabilitate the Ustashe regime go unchecked, he warns, such accusations may soon have some justification. […]

That’s an excerpt from the Nov. 18th, 1993 UK Guardian. So not much has changed, essentially. Just look at this World Jewish Congress alert from March 1999:

A Roman Catholic mass was recently conducted in Zagreb, Croatia, to honor the memory of Ante Pavelic, the leader of the World War II Nazi puppet-state.

It’s always Groundhog Day in Croatia.

Closing with a bit of irony. Last week the Vatican gave notice of the pope’s Sarajevo visit on its website: Il viaggio del Papa a Sarajevo nell’intervista del Ctv al segretario di Stato - Nella Gerusalemme d’Europa (”A Ctv interview with the secretary of State about the Pope’s trip to Sarajevo — in the Jerusalem of Europe”). This was the artwork that the Vatican site used to illustrate the press release/interview:

It’s a painting of Sarajevo by the brilliant Jewish artist Alyse Radenovic, who is married to a Serb. She brought it to my attention: “Hi Julia, I am cracking up — my art is at the Vatican news wire today. It’s a painting of the Srpsko Sarajevo skyline and there is a Serbian church in the background — I guess they saw a cross and the word Sarajevo and figured they’d go with it ;)

One would have to be truly ignorant of Sarajevo’s condition to think this is Sarajevo proper, given the glaring absence of endless mosques. In other words, the Serb-decimating, Croat-shielding Vatican went looking for art that shows European Jerusalem’s religious pluralism, and came up with an Orthodox church (like the ones that WWII Catholic Croats had locked and burned thousands of Serbs in), located in the Serb-Republic-administered and therefore more tolerant part of Sarajevo, on the outskirts of Sarajevo proper. After the Vatican fomented the war that has since left the rest of Sarajevo almost entirely Islamic, with the Catholics all but pushed out.

It’s enough to make the Catholic Crusaders who, in contrast, saved the actual Jerusalem from this very fate, turn in their fiery graves.