The Apostolic Nunciature in Croatia criticised on Wednesday a press conference by Djakovo-Osijek Archbishop Djura Hranic, saying Hranic had failed to show the "necessary and recommended" empathy towards the victims of church abuse and that he believed the accused priest over the mother of one of the alleged victims.
Archbishop Hranic held a press conference on 21 March related to accusations of covering up a case of sexual abuse, concerning the parish priest in the town of Sotin, Zlatko Rajcevac.
Hranic rejected the accusations of any cover-up and said that he reported the case to the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) but that he did not transfer Rajcevac from Sotin because “he was already old and sick” and “his whole world would have collapsed.”
In a statement published today, the Nunciature confirmed that Hranic formally complied with the laws related to cases of abuse of minors, submitting a preliminary investigation to the competent Dicastery in the Vatican.
‘Focus must be on victims’
The Apostolic Nunciature reiterated that the the focus must be on the victims and that it would be desirable to relieve anyone accused of such a serious crime from his duties until such time that light is shed on the facts.
However, they added, the current legislation on the matter leaves the discretion of the decision to the bishop.
Unfortunately, by believing the pastor’s defence more than the report by the mother of one of the alleged victims, Archbishop Hranic did not show the necessary and recommended empathy towards the victims, which was also visible at the aforementioned press conference, the Nunciature underlined.
Absence of compassion cannot be sanctioned
As for the possible measures that could be taken against Archbishop Hranic, as things stand now, his action was within the framework of legal regulations, the Nunciature said.
Empathy can only be expected and wished for and cannot be imposed, and its absence cannot be sanctioned, unless the competent Dicastery in the Vatican, which will be properly informed, decides otherwise, the Nunciature added in its statement.
The Nunciature noted that Pope Francis already in 2015 apologised to victims who suffered abuse by the clergy, saying: “I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed.”
This is what this Papal Representation wants to do too, expressing its closeness and begging for the forgiveness of all the victims, known and unknown, who were exposed to the inappropriate behaviour of the now deceased priest Rajcevac. Unfortunately, we have to admit that we have not learned from the mistakes of the past, the Nunciature said, expressing respect for and thanking those who showed more attention to the suffering of the victims.
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