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Report Examines Church Aid To Croatian Fascists

A new U.S. government report suggests cooperation may have existed between the. Vatican and Croatian fascists during World War II, according to the New York Times.

U.S. State Department research, focusing on Nazi gold shipments, says that Catholic clergy in Rome helped Croatian fascist leaders hide in Italy and then escape to South America once the war was over.

The report found that priests at San Giralamo Croatian College in Rome provided the aid to Croatian fascists, known as the Ustasha, even though they sent an estimated 700,000 Orthodox Serbs, Jews and others to death camps.

While there is no specific evidence that the Vatican leadership knew of or supported Ustasha activities, the U.S. report does say, "Given the location of the college [near the Vatican], troubling questions remain."

A spokesman for the Vatican denied any knowledge of an effort to help Ustasha leaders. This new controversy follows a television documentary report last year that the Vatican held 200 million Swiss francs, $170 million today, for Croatian fascists for safekeeping.

The controversy is likely to grow this fall when Pope John Paul II is scheduled to beatify Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, a Croation church leader accused of working with the Nazi government. Beatification is a step on the road to sainthood.
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Publication:Church & State
Date:Jul 1, 1998
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