Croatian Orthodox Church

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Emblem of the Croatian Orthodox Church

The Croatian Orthodox Church was a religious body created during World War II by the Ustasha regime in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

The reason for formation of this church was that Orthodox Christian Churches are state-based. Since Orthodox Christians lived on the territory of NDH, and not that of Serbia, as well as the fact that many countries and peoples of Orthodox Christian faith, that were friendly to NDH, couldn't have properly organized religious life in NDH (Bulgarians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Montenegrins etc.). Authorities finally made a move to organize domestic Orthodox Church. This was also part of policy to eliminate Serbian culture from Nazi Croatia.

Ante Pavelić (left) and Andrija Artuković (in the middle) meet Patriarch Germogen

The church lasted from 1942 to 1945, and was intended as a national church to which Serbs living in Croatia would convert, thus making it possible to describe them as "Croats of Orthodox faith". It was only recognized by one other Orthodox church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, on August 4, 1944[1] (at the time, Romania was also under the control of the Fascist regime of Ion Antonescu). Its manager was Savić Marković Štedimlija.

There were some discussions during the 1990s, after the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, regarding the revival of such a church.

The Croatian Orthodox Church 1942-1945[edit]

Croat Orthodox Church was created, to be considered one of the three faiths to which Croats could officially belong (the main being Catholicism and Islam).

Its leader was Germogen, Metropolitan of Zagreb, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, who is said to have had Uniate sympathies. Most of the church's priests were Serbian priests who were compelled to change churches in order to survive, together with defrocked Orthodox priests, émigré priests from Russia, and some Uniate and Roman Catholic priests.

The church was formed by a government statute (No. XC-800-Z-1942) on April 4, 1942. On June 5, using the statute issued by the government, the church's constitution was passed. On June 7 Germogen became the only Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb. The church lasted until the NDH collapsed. Germogen was shot to death the same day by partisans.

The reasons for the creation of this Church was to make a concession to the Serbian population, as some in the Ustasha leadership felt this would decrease the will to rebel in Serbs.

Before the Croatian Orthodox Church was formed, the NDH officially described the Eastern Orthodox Church as the "Greek-Eastern Church", and would refer to it as the "Schismatic Church" or the "Greek non-Uniate Church". The Ustasha wanted to make their church legitimate; they asked for recognition from the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul.

Proposals for a revival in the 1990s[edit]

On 6 March 1993, Juraj Kolaric, dean of the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Zagreb, was reported by the Tanjug news agency as stating that the "Orthodox Church in Croatia should be organized along the Macedonian principle, with its patriarch, and break away as far as territory was concerned, from Serbia”. Kolaric had several times tried to start an initiative to start such a church and that it should be started by the "Croat Orthodox believers and possible Croatian Orthodox clergy, because then all the conditions for an autocephalous church would be met." He claimed that if a church was formed it would eventually by recognized by the Patriarch of Constantinople because the Serbian Orthodox Church would never be present in Croatia again. Kolaric claimed that his statements were not influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. The initiatives of Kolaric for the creation of such a church was protested by the Serbian Orthodox Church several times.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Krišto, Jure. Sukob simbola: Politika, vjere i ideologije u Nezavisnoj Državi Hrvatskoj. Globus, Zagreb 2001. (pg. 258)

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