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Croatia blocks Vatican decision, confiscates monastery

August 12, 2011

Croatia’s justice minister, Drazen Bosnjakovic, has blocked a recent Vatican decision transferring the ownership of a monastery in Dajla from the Diocese of Porec i Pula to Italian Benedictines and has annulled past government decisions granting the monastery to the diocese.

The property, which the Communist government confiscated from the Benedictines after World War II, now reverts to the Croatian state.

The turn of events “raises astonishment, both for the extraordinary decision and also because the Croatian prime minister had expressed her intention to address the problem in a spirit of collaboration,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

The tangled story of the monastery's ownership grew even more unusual when Pope Benedict XVI intervened personally, suspending the diocesan bishop's authority and appointing a temporary delegate who then signed over the property to the Benedictine order. Clearly the Vatican would not have taken such an extraordinary step without first having made every effort to persuade the diocese to make the transfer voluntarily, and having ascertained without question that the Benedictines had proper title to the monastery.

Now the Croatian government's intervention adds yet another layer of complexity, adding an obvious Church-state dispute on top of an unfortunate quarrel within the Church. The looming confrontation between Croatia and the Vatican comes as a surprise in light of the success of Pope Benedict's recent trip to the country, and the overall climate of friendly relations between the Holy See and the mostly Catholic country.


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