Sunday, February 14, 2010

Consecration of Archbishop Rajic; Cardinal Bertone on Bishop Peric

Archbishop Petar Rajič (foreground), following his consecration by Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone (background).  Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the Archbishop of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar-Duvno were co-consecrators. (Photo: Diocese of Mostar-Duvno)

"Behold, I come, Lord, to do thy will" (Ps 40.8).....
The consecration of a new bishop, actually - an archbishop, took place on the other side of the world in the small country of Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) on January 23, 2010.  It's an interesting story of one man's journey through the priesthood, in the Vatican diplomatic corp, and now the episcopacy.  On it's own, it is a great vocation story for the Year for Priests.

What had me interested in the elevation of Archbishop Rajic, was one small thing we had in common:  We are both of Croatian descent and we both pursued a vocation in BiH, and we did so at nearly the same time.  His parents were born in the region, and he was born in Canada.  I was born in the US to a father of Polish descent and a mother of Croatian descent (their parents were born overseas). 

After two years spent there, illness brought me out of the novitiate and back into secular life back in 1983 - a sign that it was not God's plan for me to be there any longer.  I don't consider it wasted time, and feel those were some of the best years of my life - in community.  I learned many lessons applicable today.  God's plan for Petar Rajic, however, was to follow through there.  At every step of the way, he gave his "fiat" - his "yes" to God's will for him.  The lesson for all of us in his life's story, is that receiving graces is never enough.  We must act on them, as he certainly has.

Someday, I hope to learn more about what took him there, and if our reasons were similar.  It appears we were both active in Croatian ethnic parishes here in North America in our youth. As I watched events unfold in the last few weeks with the new Archbishop, I couldn't help but wonder if some years from now, he will be back in BiH to lead in some capacity after even more seasoning in cultures which are predominantely Muslim.


On December 2, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Msgr. Petar Rajic as Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar.  As a Nuncio, he was made an archbishop.  He is a Canadian, born of Toronto, but of Croatian descent.  He was ordained by Bishop Pavao Žanić at the age of 28, and incardinated in the Diocese of Trebinje e Mrkan (now with Mostar-DuvnoThe blog of Canadian Catholic Television station, Salt and Light, provided some background:

Monsignor Petar Rajic was born in Toronto in 1959. He attended Michael Power/ St. Joseph High School then went on to the University of Toronto. After completing his B.A. he entered the seminary in Sarajevo. He has been in the Vatican’s diplomatic service for the past 15 years and served in Senegal, Iran and Lithuania before being posted to the Secretariat of State’s office in Vatican City and to the Prefecture of the Papal Household. With his new position Monsignor Rajic becomes the Pope’s ambassador to Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, and will be elevated to the rank of Archbishop.
There were some gaps there that needed filling in, and I managed to find some.  Like, how did he get to Mostar, from Canada?  Here is a touched up google translation of an article from the Cathedral's website

Feeling the call to priesthood from God himself, Peter, in 1982 asked the Bishop of Mostar, Msgr. Pavao Žanić to receive him as a candidate in theology in Trebinje bishopric. The bishop had intended to send him to study in Rome, but he expressed a desire to go to Sarajevo to study the Croatian language and getting to know the local situation and even the Church among the Croats.  He finished philosophical and theological studies in Sarajevo and was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Mary Mother of the Church in Mostar, on June 29,1987. 

From there, Fr. Rajic was sent back to Toronto, Canada, to an ethnic Croatian parish where he was chaplain at Our Lady Queen of Croats. He was there from 1987 - 1989, when Bishop Zanic decided to send him to Rome to study Canon Law.  He resided at the Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome.  In 1991, the Holy See decided it wanted him for diplomatic service and, with the consent of Bishop Zanic, he was transferred to the Pontifical Academy that year.
Bishop Peric explains during an interview with Crkva na Kamenu (Church on the Rock) in 2006, following his ad limina visit with Pope Benedict XVI, a little more about some of what Msgr. Rajic did at the Vatican (I give the original question and full answer to put it in context):

Cnak: What were your impressions after your first meeting with the Pope?

Bishop Peric: - It was my first encounter with him as Pope but not the first with Joseph Ratzinger who previously was the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There were many previous such encounters, especially alongside Bishop Žanić regarding the problems which are still burdening this diocese. One of the Prelates of the Pontifical AnteChamber [papal living quarters]or Assistants for the Pope’s private audiences is our priest Msgr. Petar Rajič, whose parents are originally from Doljani, the parish of Dračevo, in the diocese of Trebinje-Mrkan. He guides visitors through the entire protocol: entry, greeting, photographs, conclusion and departure. Each bishop is given about 15 minutes for his personal encounter. I personally handed over to the Holy Father a written “pro memoria” on a single page which contained 3 joyful and 3 less joyful to sad events and occurrences. He read the original text and referred to certain points by asking questions and making comments as well.
This article (google translated from Croatian) stated that Msgr Rajic, in 1993, became "the highest ranking Croatian within the Vatican walls" (important to note for those who do not know that Bosnia and Herzegovina are made up of three major groups:  Ethnic Croatians (Catholics), Serbs (Orthodox), and Muslims.  Pope John Paul II made several trips to Croatia, and to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), accompanied by Rajic. 

The Arrival of Cardinal Bertone

Cardinal Bertone, with the soon-to-be Archbishop Rajic to the left.

At 9:30am, on January, 23, 2010 a small jet landed at the Mostar airport with a delegation of eight from the Holy See, headed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone.  These, along with the Archbishop of BIH - Cardinal Puljic, Apostolic Nuncio for BiH, Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico all met at the Bishop's residence.

The Cardinal was greeted by politicians from Mostar, Sarajevo and Banja Luka, with the Orthodox and Islamic representatives and diplomats: the ambassadors and consuls.  At the Bishop's residence, Cardinal Bertone, had an opportunity to meet with family members of Msgr. Rajic.  Bishop Ratko Peric is seen in the center of the photo below, enjoying a moment with some of his visiting brother bishops.

Consecration of Archbishop Rajič

The consecration took place at the Cathedral of Mary, Mother of the Church in Mostar.  During the war in 1992 the cathedral was heavily damaged, along with the Bishop's palace, and a library of 50,000 books.  In 1994, it was bombed again.  It was rebuilt after the war. 

According to the diocese, attendance at the Episcopal consecration included: 3 Cardinals (Cdl Bertone, Cdl Puljic, and the third was Cardinal Josip Bozanić, of Zagreb) 30 Arch/bishops, 200 priests, 150 religious sisters, 50 major seminarians and 45 minor seminarians, 20 Ambassadors and Nuncios.

In his homily, Cardinal Bertone reflected (google translated with some touch up):

....Dear Msgr. Peter, at this moment the Lord reiterates His call: "Whom will I send and who will go for us?" And you answer: "Here I am, send me" (cf. 6.8). In this dialogue between God and the prophet, there is all your life. Here is the beginning of your priestly call, in Toronto, when you're full of youthful enthusiasm, you accepted the Lord's call to follow him closely.  You then wrote to the bishop of Mostar and were accepted and in theology as a candidate for the Diocese of Trebinje, the Church of origin of your parents.  Your priestly ordination was the June 29th, 1987 in this same cathedral.  For the priesthood you chose the motto: "Behold, I come, Lord, to do thy will" (Ps 40.8).....
He went on to summarize each of the times that Msgr. Petar Rajic said, "yes" to Gods will for him with each new assignment, including this one which will take him to the Middle East as the Apostolic Nuncio for Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar, as well as the Apostolic Delegate for the Arabian Peninsula.  Cardinal Bertone elaborates later in the homily on this last title: "but the role of apostolic delegate, represents the relations between the Holy See and a separate state, on the official level, that is, the diplomatic level, with the rank of ambassadors."

The concelebrated Mass was in Latin, with some Croatian.  And the Mostar Symphony played.  Here is video taken during Holy Communion with the symphony playing.

More video can be found here.

Additional Reading (through Google Translate from  Croatian to English)
The Diocese of Mostar-Duvno has posted many photos from the day in three links (all photos in this post are from this collection).  It won't let me provide the individual links (at least in an easy way, but as of this posting, it's the three near the top.

This ends the segment on Archbishop  Rajic, whose path we will track again at some future date, when he says, "yes" to the next assigment.  Please pray for him in his new assignment.  Ad multos annos!

EDIT: On March 26, Zenit reported that Archbishop Rajic has now taken on two more: Yemen and United Arab Emirates

Cardinal Bertone on Bishop Perić

The next subject is contained here because the content comes from an address given by Cardinal Bertone at the luncheon which followed. I want to pull out a portion of that address and focus on a few words.

A joyful mood for the glorious occasion is clearly seen on the faces of Cardinal Bertone and Bishop Peric

Something Cardinal Bertone said at the end of his luncheon address is noteworthy:
We cannot fail to thank the Bishop of this Church, His Excellency Ratko Perić, for having offered us the occasion to live, here at Mostar, the very beautiful and solemn liturgical celebration of this morning, and then to reconvene convivially in such a beautiful and welcoming inn.

With sincere sentiments of gratitude, we pray to the Good Lord that this Church of Mostar, harmoniously inserted in the communion of the Churches of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in full communion with the See of Peter, may grow ever more in unity and holiness. The more it is faithful to its Catholic identity and to the apostolic tradition, of which the bishop is guarantor, the more it will grow in its own internal unity, and will know how to contribute to building up concord among the diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural elements of the complex society in which Providence has called it to live and to work in conformity with the mandate of the Gospel.

Here is the full address with auto-translate [Croatian] [Italian]

My first thought on what I have emboldened, is that the war may have ended over a decade ago, but there are still ethnic, political, and religious challenges. Catholics, in the minority.

If there is disunity within the local Church, then it will be more difficult to create unity with peoples of other religions and ethnicity.  There is disunity in the local Church and the Holy See has had to intervene several times.

In the Diocese of Mostar Duvno, there are priests dismissed from the Order of Friars Minor by the Superior General in Rome, and suspended a divinis, (confirmed by the Holy See), who continue to operate in the diocese unlawfully (meaning, there are many invalid sacraments taking place).  Parishes, which were to be handed over to the bishop for transfer to diocesan priests, according to a 1975 Decree - Romanis Ponticibus, were usurped by the men, and held, still today (with ongoing invalid sacraments). 

This has roots that go way back (truly, one needs to go back to around the 14th century and work forward from there), and it's so deep that it would require a separate post in itself, which I won't rule out in the future.  However, suffice it to say for now that anyone wanting to blame the bishop, must also blame the Holy See, which sided with the Diocese in the case.  No matter how it is sliced, God's will for the diocese and those parishes, was handed down by decree. 

In addition to those 9 who were dismissed from the OFM, there are over 20 names listed of OFM priests without faculties in the diocese (scroll down here) - most for refusing to sign a form declaring their intent to obey the bishop (an act prompted by the General Superior in Rome to try to bring about order in the region).

Since 1975, the provincial has been appointed by the central Franciscan authority in Rome, and they have been without the ability to elect their own provincial.

This whole matter has been under the watchful eye of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and the Vatican Secretariat of State.

How is this connected with Medjugorje?  In at least two ways:
  1. The "Gospa" defended some of those disciplined by the Superior General in Rome; or faulted the Bishop with the problem. (see point 23 in The Truth about Medjugorje by Bishop Zanic)
  2. The "Gospa" who has given over 40,000 "messages" has said nothing about the invalid sacraments taking place in close proximity to Medjugorje, including 700 invalid Confirmations at the hands of a fake bishop brought in by some of the priests in the usurped parishes (see point 7 in Bishop Peric's January 2, 2010 statement on Cardinal Schonborn's visit).  Invalid sacraments are very serious, and one would think that the "gospa" would be very concerned about this - enough tomention it. 

Here are some interesting quotes to consider, in light of what Cardinal Bertone said.  They are from St. Ignatius collected at this Wikipedia page:

  • "Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 6:1.
  • "Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father, [being united with Him], either by Himself or by the Apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and the presbyters." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 7:1.
  • "Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to the Father [according to the flesh], and as the Apostles were to Christ and to the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and of spirit." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 13:2
  • "In like manner let all men respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, even as they should respect the bishop as being a type of the Father and the presbyters as the council of God and as the college of Apostles. Apart from these there is not even the name of a church." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallesians 3:1.
  • "follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God's commandment" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnans 8:1
  • "He that honoureth the bishop is honoured of God; he that doeth aught without the knowledge of the bishop rendereth service to the devil" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnans 9:1. 

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!