The Decree "Romanis Pontificibus"
Mostar - The Vicar General, Br Stefano Ottenbreit and the Diocescan Bishop, Msgr Ratko Peric met in Mostar from 17 to 20 February to definitively implement the prescriptions of the Holy See’s Decree "Romanis Pontificibus". Msgr Mario Cassari, acting Charg_ d’Affaires at the Papal Nunciature in Bosnia Herzegovina represented the Holy See. The General Definitory of the Order and the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, in ecclesial communion with the local Bishop, confirmed their wish for complete agreement and unity of purpose. The 7 parishes indicated in the decree were handed over to the Bishop.
From 22 February the Franciscan Pastors were relieved of their pastoral responsibilities and were assigned to other duties in the Province. Br Stefano and General Definitors Br Kapistran Martzall and Br Peter Schorr concelebrated the Sunday Eucharist with the Bishop in the packed Cathedral of Mostar, in the presence of the national and Croatian media. The actual transfer of the 7 parishes to the diocesan Clergy did not take place on Sunday the 21st as planned, since there was organised physical resistance on the part of the parishioners, as well as serious written and verbal threats, occupation of Churches and Parochial houses and the removal of Parish registers and stamps.
Msgr Ratko Peric, together with the priests and faithful, publicly expressed his deep appreciation to the Order and to the Province of Herzegovina for their untiring work in favour of the local Church. He also reaffirmed the need for their continuing presence and pastoral collaboration for the future.
Following this decree’s implementation, the Province of the Assumption of the BVM in Mostar has pastoral responsibility for 30 parishes and the Diocese is responsible for 52.
Following the joint letter sent by the Minister General of the Friars Minor, Br Giacomo Bini and by the Bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, Msgr Ratko Peric, of 16 November 1998, and following the Communication issued by Archbishop Marcello Zago, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, by the Minister General and by the local Bishop on 14 December 1998,
The representative of the Minister General
Br Stephan Ottenbreit, Vicar General of the Order
And the Diocesan Bishop, Msgr Ratko Peric
Met in Mostar from 17 to 20 February 1999 to definitively implement the prescriptions of the Holy See’s Decree "Romanis Pontificibus". Msgr Mario R. Cassari, acting Chargè d’Affaires at the Papal Nunciature in Bosnia Herzegovina represented the Holy See.
The two co-executors affirmed and decided as follows:
1.The General Government of the Order, together with the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, in ecclesial communion with the local Bishop, confirms it desire to carry out what has been decreed by the Holy See and decided by the General Chapter of the Franciscan Order, in complete agreement and unity of purpose.
2.It is painful to note that it has not been possible to transfer the parishes mentioned in the Decree from the Franciscans to the Diocesan Clergy on 21 February 1999, as previously agreed, notwithstanding the good will of the Co-executors, for the following reasons: acts of organised physical resistance, serious written and verbal threats, occupation of parochial Churches and houses, removal of parish registers and stamps
3.As and from 22 February the current Pastors and those with Pastoral responsibility, cited in the Decree are relieved of the above-mentioned pastoral responsibility. They are:
Br Petar Vlasic of Blagaj/Buna,
Br Leonard Hrkac of Crnac,
Br Marko Dragicevic and Br Miro Sego of Grude,
Br Alojzije Bosnjak of Jablanica,
Br Tihomir Kutle of Mostarski Gradac,
Br Oton Bilic of Nevesinje,
Br Drago Skrobo of Ploce-Tepcici.
These friars, who have been appointed by their Minister Provincial with his Definitory to houses of the Province, will have pastoral responsibilities within the Diocese in accordance with the agreement that the Provincial Government will make with the Diocesan Bishop.
4.Until the situation is normalised as soon as possible, i.e. until the Diocesan priests can assume the canonical administration of the above-mentioned parishes, the Bishop of the Diocese, in keeping with his duty, is committed to ensuring the pastoral care of the faithful. These are requested to refer as follows:
- the Parishioners of Blagaj/Buna and of Nevesinje to the Parish Offices of St John the Apostle or to the Cathedral of Mostar;
- the Parishioners of Crnac and of Mostarski Gradac to the Parish Offices of Polog or Jare;
- the Parishioners of Grude to the Parish Offices of Ledinac or Raskrizije;
- the Parishioners of Jablanica to the Parish Offices of St Matthew the Apostle or to the Cathredal of Mostar.
The Bishop and Priests of the Diocesan Curia are also available to any of the faithful who have need of pastoral assistance.
5.In regard to the current situation in Capljina, the Co-executors draw attention, particularly to the Faithful, that the priests Bonifacije Barbaric and Boze Rados, were dismissed from the Order of Friars Minor, on 28 February 1998. The Holy See confirmed their dismissal on 23 March 1998. Consequently, they may no longer use the Franciscan habit. On 17 December 1998 they were suspended "a divinis" by the Holy See, such suspension being applied by the Diocesan Bishop on 30 December 1998; they are thus forbidden to celebrate all the sacraments. The process for the dismissal from the Order of the third disobedient priest residing in Capljina, Br Mile Vlacic is under way. The sacraments of Confession and Matrimony, administered by the three above named persons are invalid.
6.Similar canonical sanctions will be taken against those other Franciscans who do not adhere to the directives of the Holy See and the Minister General with his Definitory. In cases of extreme necessity, ecclesiastical law allows the local Bishop to place under inderdict Churches that have been occupied illegally.
7.The General Government of the Order, together with the Government of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, publicly renews its dissociation from the "Association of the Catholic Faithful of Mir i Dobro". This association, which is not recognised by the Catholic Church, is therefore illegitimate.
8.In this time of trial, the Catholic Faithful of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, in keeping with their past, desire to strengthen their sense of communion with and fidelity to the Apostolic See and the Holy Father.
9.The local Bishop, with the priests and faithful, are deeply grateful to the Order of Friars Minor and the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina for their untiring work in favour of the growth and unity of the local Church and they reaffirm the necessity of their presence and pastoral collaboration for the future.
Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church, may this time of Lent, the favourable time of conversion, and the entire Year dedicated to our heavenly Father, be of spiritual assistance to us in the journey through the Cross towards the Resurrection.
Mostar, 20 February 1999
Br Stephan Ottenbreit,
Msgr Ratko Peric
Vicar General of the Order of Friars Minor
Bishop of Mostar-Duvno
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