marija bistrica, josip bozanić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Siniša KALAJDŽIJA/ ik

The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic, conducted a mass in the Marian shrine of Marija Bistrica on Monday, the Feast of the Assumption, calling for demographic revival, preservation of the Catholic tradition and for building reliable legal and legislative systems so that Croatian nationals were no longer tried abroad.

The Croat people is eager for demographic revival. As people are increasingly leaving our towns and villages, we need courage, strength and trust in life, Bozanic told a large number of pilgrims who traditionally visit the shrine for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Prosperity cannot be achieved without spiritual capital and not one institution, ideology or agency can prevent us from acquiring spiritual capital, he said.

"One acquires that capital exclusively by trust in God," he said in his sermon.

Among the thousands of believers who flocked to Marija Bristrica were Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic, Patriotic Coalition spokesman Miroslav Rozic and Ivan Lovrinovic of the "Let's get Croatia going" party.

Bozanic referred several times in his sermon to statements by the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, noting that "the spiritual capital left to us by that respected teacher has kept its relevance to this day."

He cited Stepinac's words in his sermon in 1944 at Marija Bistrica, when Stepinac urged the Croat people to stay true to its Catholic tradition.

"For the past two centuries attempts have been made to impose on (the Croat people) the communist view of the world. The Croat people has refused it by plebiscite. May Mary help it refuse in the future as well any system that does not know... shrines or freedom of religious belief. May she help it also not to succumb either to the idol of money or to misconception. May it never forget that it should serve only God, its creator," Bozanic said, quoting a part of Stepinac's 1944 sermon.

Commenting on the current political situation, Bozanic said: "This nation, which has always been peaceful and justice-loving, is tired of having to seek the truth about its past at courts outside Croatia. It wants therefore conditions to be created in the homeland for a legal and a legislative system which it will be able to trust," he said.

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