(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Republic of Croatia’s head of government, Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković, on Thursday morning at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Prime Minister subsequently met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States.
A communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See informs that the Pope and the Prime Minister held cordial talks, in which they remarked the good relations existing between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia, of which the Thursday visit was “a significant expression”. They confirmed their shared desire to continue constructive dialogue on bilateral issues arising in relations between the ecclesial and civil community, and focused on the prominent place the Croat faithful assigned to the figure of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (the great Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 until 1960, who was martyred under Communism in the country and beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1998), as well as the situation of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Communiqué also says Pope Francis and Prime Minister Orešković touched in their conversation upon a broad range of international and regional issues: concern was expressed, in particular, for the humanitarian crisis of refugees from the Middle East, for the conflicts that affect different regions of the world, and for attempts to weaken base of civil society (Croatia held a nationwide referendum in which participating citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of a constitutional amendment enshrining the traditional understanding of marriage in the nation’s fundamental law).