Controversial Croat WW2 cleric praised in Christmas message

Josip Bozanic has described "the blessed Alojzije Stepinac" as "a reflection of the face of mercy in the Croatian people's modern history."

Source: Tanjug
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Bozanic is the Croatian Roman Catholic cardinal, who made this statement as part of his Christmas message published in Zagreb.

Stepinac was a Second World War-era Croatian Catholic dignitary who, immediately after the arrival of Germans to Zagreb, on April 10, 1941, supported the founding of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) - a Nazi allied entity ruled by the Ustasha regime, that ran death camps for Serbs, Jews, and Roma, including that in Jasenovac.

Stepinac fought for the preservation of this entity in 1945, when it was dismantled, while Ustasha documentation and the gold pillaged by the Ustasha from Serbs and Jews was found in his seat in Zagreb's Kapitol after the war.

Stepinac was sentenced to 16 years in prison for collaboration with the occupying force and with Ustashas, but was in 1951 released and kept under house arrest in his native village of Krasic, where he received the title of cardinal in 1952 as a sign of Vatican's support, and where he died in 1960.

The Christmas message of Josip Bozanic was this year dedicated to the topic of "mercy" in its entirety, and noted that in early December, "the holy year of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy" had started.

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