Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Presidency Milorad Dodik pointed out that he does not see a letter Croatian bishops sent to the address of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) as a way to resolve the difficult legacy of the past.

“The fact that Pope Francis himself stopped the canonization of Alojzije Stepinac speaks volumes about the controversies surrounding the greatest church dignitary in the then Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Therefore, any attempt to portray Stepinac as a humanitarian and benefactor not only does not correspond to the truth, but represents a big lie that even the Roman Pope does not want to support,” Dodik emphasized in a statement to Srna when asked to comment on the statements by the Zagreb Archdiocese that Jastrebarsko was not a concentration camp for children, but a shelter for orphans.

Dodik has said that it is an undeniable historical fact that Alojzije Stepinac pointed out in his letter to Pope Pius XII from 1941 that “the desire of those who currently rule Croatia to implement the teachings of the Catholic Church obliges us to help and support them with all the loyalty and strength at our disposal”, as well as that “if Chief Pavelić had been at the head of the government for 20 years, the schismatics would have been eliminated from Croatia”.

“One should keep in mind that one of the ways to exterminate the Serbian people in the territories covered by the NDH was state-sponsored conversion, i.e. conversion into the Roman Catholic faith,” said Dodik.

To claim that the children in Jastrebarsko were saved by being given for adoption to Croatian Roman Catholic families, Dodik emphasized, is a special switch of arguments, because such a “rescue” was completely in line with the proclaimed genocidal goals of the NDH.

An open letter was published on the website of the Zagreb Archdiocese which the Croatian bishops headed by Josip Bozanić addressed to His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, in which they specifically pointed out that what the SPC says about children in “war shelters in Jastrebarsko and Sisak” is untrue.

According to the data of the National Commission for Determining the Crimes of the Occupiers and Their Helpers of the People’s Republic of Croatia, 3,336 children were detained in “Jastrebarsko” alone, mostly from the areas of Kozara and Kordun. According to the same source, at least 449 children died in the camp by the end of October 1942, and a total of 768 by the time it was closed.