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Vatican makes rare direct intervention in property dispute in Croatian diocese

Catholic World News - August 02, 2011

A lingering dispute between a Croatian diocese and the Benedictine religious order has prompted an unusual direct intervention by the Vatican, and caused a chill in diplomatic relations between Croatia and the Holy See.

The dispute concerns the Benedictine monastery at Dajla, which was confiscated from the Benedictines by the Communist regime of what was then Yugoslavia. After the fall of the Communist government, the property was restored to the Diocese of Porec i Pula, Croatia. Benedictine leaders in Italy asked for compensation for the property, and a Vatican-appointed commission backed their claim. But Bishop Ivan Milovan of Porec i Pula has refused to pay the indicated sum, saying that the payment would bankrupt the diocese.

In July, Pope Benedict appointed a special delegate to resolve the dispute. Archbishop Santos Abril y Castelló, a retired Vatican diplomat who is hold the title of vice-chamberlain, was given special papal authority to make an agreement and authorize payment.

The Vatican announced on August 2 that the Pope's appointment of a special representative had been "aimed exclusively at re-establishing justice within the Church." The Vatican statement voiced displeasure that the lengthy dispute had been portrayed "in a political and demagogic light." That rebuke was evidently aimed at Croatian political figures who have used the disagreement to stir up resentments against the Vatican--and perhaps at Bishop Milovan, who reportedly sought help from Croatian prime minister Jadranka Kosor in an effort to reverse the Pope's decision to require payment from his diocese.

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