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13.05.2017 | 22:26 | IKA E - 190270/5

Commemoration of the 72nd Anniversary of the Bleiburg Tragedy

Bleiburg, (IKA) – This year, the central part of the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Bleiburg tragedy, organized by the Bleiburg Honor Guard under the renewed sponsorship of the Croatian Parliament, and the liturgical part of the commemoration, organized by the Directorate of Pastoral Ministry to Croats Living Abroad, took place on Saturday, May 13, on the Bleiburg field in Austria. The commemoration began with the prayer of absolution at the Unterloibach Cemetery, from which a procession headed toward the altar on the Bleiburg field.
Welcoming the assembled faithful from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other European countries, the director of Pastoral Ministry to Croats Living Abroad, Dr. Tomislav Markić, thanked Archbishop Đuro Hranić of Đakovo-Osijek for leading this commemoration on behalf of the Croatian bishops. He also thanked the local Church and greeted representatives of political and public life from the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the representative of the Meshihat of the Islamic community in the Republic of Croatia, Idriz Bešić. Dr. Markić especially greeted and thanked the members of the Bleiburg Honor Guard for preserving the memory of our nation's greatest tragedy.
"We are assembled in a place that represents one of the most tragic fields in the history of our Croatian nation and the beginning of the great suffering of hundreds of thousands of Croatian soldiers and civilians after the Second World War. Their fate was so tragic and demeaning that those who condemned and executed them did not consider their names worth knowing or writing down. The totalitarian system made sure, and even today the remnants of that system make sure, that we do not know exactly where they were killed or where their graves and the pits in which their bones lie are located. It was forbidden for anyone to mention them and we younger ones were not allowed to know about them, much less ask why the victims were killed. And now when the truth, despite great opposition, has nevertheless begun to surface, there are attempts to prevent us from even praying for these nameless victims," said Archbishop Hranić at the beginning of his homily. He urged the faithful to refrain from behavior, words, signs or gestures that would further the aims of those who "seek to prevent light from being shed on the truth about these victims. I ask you to refrain from everything that could in any way draw attention in a manner that would contribute to the continued silencing of the truth about the victims of the "Way of the Cross" and the totalitarian communist system.
"Jesus' beatitudes, furthermore, speak of the incompatibility of light and darkness, faith and infidelity. We, here on the Bleiburg field and everywhere that we encounter the graves of the victims of the totalitarian regimes, the unjustly condemned, persecuted, tortured, humiliated and murdered innocent people, are called to forgive, to investigate the whole truth about the victims and the perpetrators of the violence, the satisfaction of justice, the purification of our memories and the commemoration of the martyrs. The lack of openness to Jesus' Word sheds light on why the overall problem of the victims of the Ustasha regime during the Second World War, especially in the camp in Jasenovac, has been reduced to a war about the numbers of the victims. Why was it not permitted, especially in public, even to mention the "Way of the Cross" and the other sufferings of the Croatian nation after the Second World War? Why do some maintain that the truth about the victims of the Yugoslav communist system should not be illuminated and why do some prevent this from happening, even today? Why do the numbers of victims change, depending on the circumstances and needs of the political regimes and their authorities? Why do they not mention the total number of victims instead of only the victims on their side? Why are Jasenovac, Bleiburg, Vukovar and other places of suffering still political topics instead of historical ones, deserving of due piety and compassion?"
In this context, the archbishop emphasized how "also today there are those who reach for stones as soon as the name of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac is mentioned and hurl insults, ridicule and hatred furiously upon the other side. The Gospel reveals the reasons why it is not possible to enter all the archives, why parts of the archives have been destroyed or concealed, why some of the excavations of graves were halted and why not even today are they approached with the relevant research that would make it possible to determine the whole truth, to consider the whole truth and confront it, regardless of what the truth is." The archbishop added that we are "aware that too much has been invested in lies, pamphlets and myths in order to prevent God from coming to us with the light of truth, with his mercy and forgiveness, to free us not only from the evil suffered but from that evil that we inflicted upon other people and nations, in order for us to be able to cooperate before today's challenges and the new circumstances in which we live. Unilluminated historical truth and the burden of the past obstruct unity and cooperation and, under the new historical circumstances, become a threat to the Croatian and Serbian nations and other nations in these European regions."
"Assembled here on the Bleiburg field, in the light of Christ's words and Mary's maternal invitation, today we purify our memories and commemorate the victims of the 'Way of the Cross.' In this commemoration, God gives us his grace and light of clarity in order for us to see that hearts closed to God, as were the hearts of the supporters of fascism, Nazism and the communist totalitarian regime, were ruinous not only to themselves but also to the future of Europe and the whole world. Hearts that are closed and hard before God transform the prophets, courageous and honorable people among us, such as Blessed Alojzije Stepinac during the Second World War in our Croatian nation, into martyrs. Also today, a closed heart before God has shown itself to be destructive of our present and future," said the homilist.
Today we have to come the Bleiburg field, resisting the destructiveness of closed hearts and opening ourselves to God, the truth and freedom, offering forgiveness to all who inflicted evil upon the members of our nation, praying for God's mercy for all and praying for forgiveness from God and from those upon whom members of our Croatian nation have inflicted harm. In prayers we commend all the victims to God's mercy, in order to be able to cleanse our memories from holding grudges, in order to cleanse them with forgiveness and openness to reconciliation and community within our nation and with all neighboring nations, and the nations of Europe and the world. … Therefore, we open our hearts to God and pray for his light and humbly open ourselves to the truth because we know that pride and lack of humility make our own sinfulness and the evil within ourselves even more evident," said Archbishop Hranić, and concluded his homily with the following words: "In Jesus' act, death has been defeated from the inside and the resurrection is already present. Death, metaphorically speaking, has been wounded in its inner depths so that it no longer can have the last word. This was the victory of love over hatred, the victory of love over death. In this renewal of the cleansing of remembrance and commemoration of the victims on the "Way of the Cross," which began on this Bleiburg field, we celebrate the Eucharist and approach the Eucharistic table. We unite ourselves with Christ the Lord who, through Holy Communion, makes us part of the most profound inner explosion of good in order to conquer the evil within us and through us to continue the chain of conversion that can transform this world little by little into a place in the kingdom of God.
The Mass was enhanced by the mixed cathedral choir from Đakovo, conducted by Fr. Ivo Andrić, and the assistance of seminarians, who were also from Đakovo.
The commemoration was attended on behalf of the sponsor, the Croatian Parliament, by Speaker Gordan Jandroković and several parliamentary representatives; the representative of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the minister of state property, Goran Marić; and the representative of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the minister of veterans' affairs, Tomo Medved. At the end of the Mass, a prayer for the Islamic victims of the Bleiburg tragedy was said by Efendi Bešić. Speeches were delivered by representatives of the Bleiburg Honor Guard, the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the cosponsor of the commemoration, and the Croatian Parliament as the main sponsor of the commemoration. Then wreaths were laid.

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