CWN - A joint Orthodox-Catholic commission studying the life of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (1898-1960) held its sixth and final meeting at Domus Sanctae Marthae on July 12 and 13.

The joint commission was established in 2016 to study questions about the conduct of Cardinal Stepinac during and immediately after World War II, as well as his ties with Croatian nationalist groups that had fascist connections. An avowed enemy of Communism, the cardinal was convicted of treason in a show trial and sentenced to a 16-year prison term. He was beatified as a martyr by Pope St. John Paul II in 1998.

Father Bernard Ardura, the president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, presided over the commission, which was composed mostly of Catholic and Orthodox bishops.

In a joint statement issued July 13, the members of the commission expressed gratitude for “the magnanimity of Pope Francis,” the “cordial climate,” and the full “liberty of speech” that characterized their discussions.

Recognizing that any decision to canonize Blessed Stepinac rests exclusively with the Pope, the commission members acknowledged continued disagreements:

Various events, interventions, writings, silences and positions are still subject to various interpretations. In the case of Cardinal Stepinac, the predominant interpretations given respectively by Croatian Catholics and Serbian Orthodox still remain divergent.

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