THE AMBASSADOR AND THE POPE'S NUNCIO IN A RED EMBASSY, A VATICAN VICTORYThe Yugoslavian Embassy had supported the disclosure of the book, and the book itself, for many years as a vehicle to make known the Croatian massacres. Because of it, the present author had been welcomed to the Embassy during various national celebrations and during the reception of famous political personalities.
It was during one of these receptions that the present author came face to face with an unexpected surprise. After having been introduced to the new Yugoslavian Ambassador and having discussed with him the need of a new Serbian edition of the book, the Ambassador replied in a somewhat icy tone that such an edition was no longer necessary. Not only the Serbian edition, he added, but even less an English edition. Asked the reason for such a sudden change of policy, the Ambassador explained that it was no longer necessary to expose the Croatian problem. Indeed, he repeated, the exposure would do a lot of harm to Yugoslavian and to international relations.
When the present author pointed out that the Jews, far from ceasing to relate and expose the Nazi massacres of Jews in the German concentration camps, were mounting an ever vigorous campaign, worldwide lest the world forget the Nazi horrors, the Ambassador repeated that the Croatian "problem," as he called it, was somewhat different and no longer needed a reminder.
The attitude of the Ambassador had been so sudden and radical that the present writer realized at once what he had suspected for months; namely that a "rapprochement" between the Vatican and President Tito, a born Catholic, had taken place.
The two, in fact, had been conducting secret negotiations for a long time with the view of solving the problems of the Catholic dissidents inside Communist Yugoslavia, the Catholic clergy who had
Title of the book which the Yugoslav Ambassador to England refused to publish again after Avro Manhattan encountered the Pope's Ambassador in the Yugoslav Embassy.
The Ambassador told the author that such literature was no longer useful. The Croatian massacres, he said, should be forgotten. After the encounter of Avro Manhattan with the new Yugoslav Ambassador and the Pope's Nuncio, Yugoslavia changed her policy and befriended the Vatican. The Croatian horrors were relegated to the background. The Vatican scored another victory. The edition of the book in English, however, continued to sell all over the world and was sought by many as a reminder of the danger of religious fanaticism.
That meant a change in the relationship with the Vatican, at home and abroad. Hence, a prompt minimization of the Croatian atrocities and cooperation with a new "reformed" Croatian Catholicism. A real diplomatic triumph for the Vatican.
The negotiations had been carried out by Mgr. F. Seper who had been appointed Head of the Sacred Congregation for the Faith (formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition). Mgr. Seper, as already mentioned, had been nominated Archbishop of Zagreb, as a successor of Archbishop Stepinac who also had been the personal friend and associate of Ante Pavelic, and of Artuckovic, the Interior Minister of the Catholic State of Croatia.
Mgr. Seper, who personally was a very honest and capable man, proved to be an even more subtle negotiator. He convinced the rabid anti-Vatican Communist Tito that a reconciliation with the Vatican would have given Communist Yugoslavia the much-needed support of the USA. The U.S.'s financial help, not to say diplomatic protection, had become a must since Soviet Russia had sinister designs upon a Yugoslavia that had detached herself from the block of Eastern Europe which had been reduced to the state of Russian satellites.
The argument seen in political terms had been a valid one and, therefore, an acceptable one. Tito decided to accept the Vatican's offer. Hence the radical change of policy concerning the Croatian problem. Yugoslavia wished to forget the holocaust and did not wish to be reminded about it, but above all did not wish to annoy the Vatican with even the memory of it.
The present author's surprise encounter with the new Ambassador was soon followed by yet another one when he came face to face with an individual wearing a clerical collar and a violet shirt. An Embassy official thereupon hastened to introduce the present author to the personage. The personage was none other than the new Papal Nuncio to Great Britain, that is the Pope's Ambassador. His name was Monsignor Cardinale. A pleasant individual who, while shaking hands, gave an enigmatic smile that indicated a silent victory. The encounter was the first and also the last, with both the Yugoslavian ambassador and the Papal Nuncio to Great Britain. It was also the author's last invitation to the Embassy.
Cardinal F. Seper was appointed Head of the Sacred Congregation of the Faith by Pope Paul VI in 1968. In this capacity the new Cardinal became responsible for guarding against theological errors, heresies, and other deviations from the teaching of the Catholic Church, one of the Vatican's most important posts. The Sacred Congregation which he led was none other than the former Holy Office which, in the past, had been responsible for the Holy Inquisition.
The appointment, it must be remembered, took place in 1968, several years after the Second Vatican Council which had promoted Ecumenism and Unity, and during the Pontificate of Pope Paul VI.
Why had Mgr. F. Seper's appointment had such great significance for Catholics and Protestants alike?
Because Cardinal F. Seper was none other than the Archbishop of Zagreb, the capital of the former Ustashi Croatia. He was the man who had succeeded the Archbishop, later Cardinal Stepinac, the friend and associate of Ante Pavelic. Yes, the successor of that same Stepinac who from the same Episcopal See had inspired mass forcible conversions, mass deportations of Orthodox priests and laymen, and who had blessed the Ustashi murderers of more than half a million people.
Many of the Croats were pleased at the turn of events. But hundreds of thousands of Serbs, who had lost more than 675,000 relatives and friends were not. They continued to hold meetings and have collective and individual reminders to the Croatian Holocaust whenever they could. The relentless Vatican pressure machine, however, continued to roll on until even their most innocent meetings were frowned upon by the police.
Their treatment was the more bitter because it was happening not in Catholic countries, but in Protestant ones; England being the chief culprit. The official encounter of the Archbishop of Canterbury with the Cardinal Primate of England in St. Paul Cathedral having been the beginning of the silent persecution of those who wished to remember the Holocaust of Croatia.
In other countries, however, the Serbians remembered their martyrs unhindered. Although, even there the heavy silent hand of the Catholic Church kept a threatening watch upon their activities. But if the silent menacing vigilance of the Catholic hierarchies of Australia, Canada and the USA upon the Croatian Holocaust was a discreet one, that of the former Catholic Ustashis was not.
The Ustashis who had escaped to those countries helped by the Catholic Church, now had formed themselves into ethnic groups which had become very active in political, religious and Croatian matters.
They organized themselves into semi-military units. These supported Croatian independence as fiercely as ever and were silently helped by the local Catholic authorities and clergy of the host countries where they had taken refuge. Very often they clashed not only with local Serbian or Yugoslavian activities, but also with local political problems which, in their view, were contrary to Croatian interests.
The author and the Yugoslav Ambassador.
The reception of the Yugoslav Embassy in London, England, became an historical landmark in the relationship of Communist Yugoslavia and the Vatican. Since the end of World War Two, and the collapse of the Independent Catholic Slate of Croatia, Red Dictator Tito had shunned all contact with the Vatican. The arrest and the imprisonment of Archbishop Stepinac and other high Catholic clergy who had participated in the reign of terror of the Catholic State, became the main obstacle. With the passing of time, however, the independence of Tito, from Soviet Russia, which was encouraged by the USA, yielded results. The USA "pressured" the Red Dictator to "conciliation" with the Vatican. One of the preliminaries of such a step was "to forget the Croatian experience." When such a policy was accepted, a new Ambassador was appointed in London, at the same time that a "special" clever Vatican Diplomat became one of the Embassy's "principal guests." The same evening the author was told by the Ambassador to stop writing about Croatia. Immediately afterwards he was introduced to Mgr. Cardinale, who was at the Red Embassy in person, as the official representative of the Pope. In the picture the author is addressing the Ambassador during the reception.