On the occasion of the recent commemoration, in Mostar, of Mgr Pavao Zanic’s death, his successor, Bishop Ratko Peric, spoke to the faithful “on the heroic stance of Mgr Zanic towards communist ideology, thereby disproving the recent attacks against his noble Episcopal character”.
Our readers have already been informed about an insidious attack by Croatian journalists against the late Ordinary of Mostar. The serious charge has been uncritically transmitted by journalist-vaticanist Andrea Tornielli who initiated— but abruptly interrupted — an exchange in our commentaries section.
Shortly before Christmas 2011, Mgr Peric published a response that Richard Chonak translated from Italian into English. According to the main accusation, Mgr Zanic was allegedly a collaborator of the Yugoslav secret police [UDBA] and, under communist threats, changed drastically his position on the so-called apparitions of Medjugorje.
As if it were not enough, visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti echoed the allegation in a recently published interview with an Italian journalist. She claimed, without providing any evidence for her arbitrary statement, that the communist police ordered the Bishop to deny the apparitions and Marian faith and so “Zanic denied everything”.
Mgr Peric revealed that he had access, last November 2011, to the secret police reports in connection with Mgr Zanic and Medjugorje:
“None of the 30 documents from the years 1981 to 1988 makes any mention anywhere, of any kind of communist coercion or threats under which Bishop Žanić would have made a “denial” so that nothing would “happen” to him, as the “visionary” “informed” the public in the Italian language.
“Moreover, in several reports that were sent during these years from the security services of Mostar to their higher offices inSarajevo, it is clear that Bishop Žanić did not want to meet with the President of the Commission for Religious Questions on 14 July 1981.
“And being a persistent opponent of the communist system, it is explicitly mentioned that he is a “bearer of enemy activity” under number 1 in the documents dated: 31 January 1983; 7 November 1983; 8 December 1983; 4 January 1984; 7 March 1984; 24 April 1986.
“He was an ideologically principled opponent of communism during all his time in Mostar, from 1971 to 1993.
“The truth shall set you free. In the miscellany on Bishop Pavao Žanić titled “The Truth shall set you Free”, Mostar 1992, there is an extensive discussion between the editor of this work Fr. Tomo Vukšić, who today is the Military Ordinary of B-H, and Bishop Pavao. The editor put forth the question:
“Many of your homilies contained criticisms of the communist authorities and ideology. I personally oftentimes listened to these criticisms. On what grounds did you base your convictions and courage?”
“Fr. Tomo was associate pastor of the Cathedral parish of Mostar between 1980 and 1982.
“The Bishop replied:
“Being a principled opponent of communism – the universal lie – I often took aim against this lie. The communists had in their hands all means of intimidation against people, especially on the youth. The faithful were being ‘disciplined’ everywhere.
“Communism bathed the entire world in blood and despite this it still had its adherents. And yet, it disintegrated because it controlled everything for too long through lies, force and empty words. I did not end up in jail but I was the last person in Split to receive a passport.
“I was constantly being eavesdropped…” [Source]
Part of the “first” truth that “shall set us free” is to know how the political authorities for religious affairs handled the “crisis” in the mid-eighties. The Croatian journalists, the Medjugorje Franciscans and the visionaries of today are very careful not to reveal us what was at stake at that time.
Let us hear what Filip Simic, deputy minister for religious affairs in Bosnia Herzegovina, said to a British film crew, in September 1986:
Doesn’t Mr. Simic contradict the core of the accusation against Mgr Zanic of collaboration with communist authorities?
If the communist authorities were welcoming the boost to the economy, and profiting from it, as we have seen in the video clip, shouldn’t they have “ordered” the bishop not to “deny the apparitions and Marian faith”? That was the situation five years after the beginning of the events.
The argument of the accusers, not substantiated with any valid documentation, doesn’t then resist to the facts.
Instead of being a “collaborator” of the communist regime, Mgr Zanic may have been rather considered as a potential “saboteur” of the government’s new lucrative activities, in an ailing Yugoslav economy, particularly because of his 1984 firm Posizione:
We know, however, that Mgr Zanic had a positive but careful attitude, in 1981:
“The main question remains, however, whether it is a subjective experience of children or something supernatural.” He didn’t hesitate to defend the visionaries and the Franciscans against the calumnies disseminated by communist journalists and political authorities:
“That night Sarajevo TV gave its own explanation of the day’s events, quoting a press release issued at a meeting of the Citluk commune:
“We decided that it was necessary to underline that what the priests, Jozo Zovko of Medjugorje, and his colleagues, Ferdo Vlasic, Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar, and other extremists intend and desire is nothing less than to restore the terrorist Ustasa organisation. All of this constitutes the very gravest abuse of religious freedom.” [underlined by LB]
“Bishop Zanic protested in a letter to the Federal President on 1st September. Speaking for himself and the other accused priests, he expressed himself saddened by: “these irresponsible calumnies and these attacks whose bad taste will in no way facilitate a calm appraisal of the events which have been taking place in Medjugorje. Such behaviour violates fundamental human and civic rights.”
Mary Craig – Spark From Heaven, 1988, hardcover, p.78
Finally, part of the “second” truth that “shall set us free” is to acknowledge the real concern of the courageous Pastor that Mgr Zanic was. As evidence, his words captured by the same film crew, in September 1986:
Bishop Zanic was well aware that pilgrims to Medjugorje had cast him in the role of villain. “Anyone who doesn’t believe in the place is dismissed as an atheist,” he complained. “People are looking for miracles, and if they can’t find them they invent them. They’re trying to prop up their faith with things they know nothing at all about, intangible things. But a great deal of caution is needed: you can’t use apparitions as a basis for faith. They may prove false – and then where are you?”Mary Craig, idem, p. 184
Anyone who did not believe in the place was “dismissed as an atheist”, or — as we have seen recently — a “collaborator” of the atheists/communists according to irresponsible “Christian” Medjugorje propagandists who dared tarnish Mgr Zanic’s memory.
“People seemed unable to understand that his refusal to accept Medjugorje was based on valid objections:“I have a responsibility to God, to the Holy See and to my own conscience, to examine this matter thoroughly and discover the truth about it. If in so doing I were to speak against the dictates of my own conscience, I should deserve the terrors of Hell. And if I must suffer for the truth, then so be it.”Mary Craig, idem, p. 184-185