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09.05.2018 | 19:37 | IKA E - 200116/5

Statement by the Permanent Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops

The parish offices of our arch/dioceses have recently received letters concerning citizens' initiatives, The Truth about Istanbul and The People Decide, in regard to the collection of signatures for a referendum, with the request to inform the faithful in the churches and permit signatures to be collected on church premises. The authors of these letters assert that they have notified the Croatian bishops about this matter, which may create certain ambiguities. The Permanent Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops does not consider such activities to be appropriate in places of worship and they should not be announced in churches, as this would interfere with Sunday services

Zagreb, (IKA) – At the session of the Permanent Council of the Croatian Conferences of Bishops held on May 3, 2018, it was reported that the parish offices of our arch/dioceses have recently received letters from citizens' initiatives, The Truth about Istanbul and The People Decide, regarding the collection of signatures for a referendum, with the request to inform the faithful in the churches and permit signatures to be collected on church premises. The authors of these letters assert that they have notified the Croatian bishops about this matter, which may create certain ambiguities. The Permanent Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops does not consider such activities to be appropriate in places of worship and they should not be announced in churches, as this would interfere with Sunday services.
The position emphasized by the Second Vatican Council must be constantly borne in mind: "The Church and the political community in their own fields are autonomous and independent from each other. Yet both, under different titles, are devoted to the personal and social vocation of the same men" (GS 76). Since the Church carries out its mission in a democratic society, it encourages the faithful to contribute to the building of a more humane society, especially when it comes to fostering the well-being of the individual person and the dignity of marriage and the family (cf. GS 47‒48).
Specifically, the Church is concerned with promoting and improving the political decision-making process, so that, on the one hand, it fosters maximum freedom of expression and the direct, fair and responsible representation of all Croatian citizens in political life, while, on the other hand, it prohibits misrepresentation of and deviation from the positions and values for which the voters entrusted their confidence to their representatives.
In this regard, Christ's lay faithful are expected to represent and promote Christian values in a pluralistic society, as well as everything that serves the further development of democracy and the general good of society. We emphasize that every believer is free to support efforts to encourage the direct participation of citizens in promoting the values integral to the democratic system and make the voice of the people clearly heard, while respecting the legal frameworks and legal order of the Republic of Croatia.
On the 120th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, who is a perpetually visible compass on the path of truth, freedom and love, we invoke his intercession in our greeting and blessing in the Lord.

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