A Croatian bishop has condemned a new outbreak of anti-Serb violence in the country, and blasted those who he said are “promoting new divisions and spreading distrust, which could result in even greater evil than the violence perpetrated”.
Driving the news
The Bishop of Požega, Antun Škvorčević, was speaking Sunday at the installation of the new pastor of the parish church of the Holy Trinity in the city of Daruvar.
Škvorčević’s remarks came as five people, including a minor, were injured in a hate-motivated attack in Knin last Thursday.
That same day, attackers entered a café in the nearby village of Đevraske and verbally insulted the owner and patrons.
Although there no injuries, café property was damaged in the attack.
The violence in Knin and Đevraske was preceded by another incident in the suburb of Viškovo, in Rijeka, where a 42 year-old-man allegedly assaulted a 70-year-old ethnic Serb.
“I condemn the violence that has been perpetrated these days in Knin, Đevraske, Viškovo and other places in our Croatian homeland against persons of Serbian nationality and express my compassion for the victims”, Bishop Škvorčević said at the installation in Daruvar.
“It is unacceptable to transform Croatian patriotism into an ideology of hatred and violence.
“Croatian patriotism is a value system that incorporates the principles of the gospel.
“When someone hates members of other nationalities and commits violence against them, he is wounding the Christian heritage and acting against God’s plan for mankind”, the prelate added.
Škvorčević was careful to dissociate himself “from those who are attempting to use the aforementioned events for their own political goals, attributing false significance to them”.
Why it matters
The bishop urged the new parish priest to remember the Gospel message of inclusion, tolerance, community and diversity in his work in Daruvar, a multicultural hub for Czechs, Croats, Serbians and people of other nationalities.
“Jesus did not call himself a Jew but rather the Son of Man”, Škvorčević recalled.
“He died for every person and confirmed to Croats and Czechs, Serbs and others that he is our brother.
“This is precisely the reason why the faithful must accept every person with profound respect and never scorn others for any reason, whatsoever, especially not in the name of national affiliation”, the bishop urged.