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The Holy See

Capital Vatican City

Time Zone CET (GMT+1)

Country Code 39

ccTLD .va

Currency Euro

Land Area 0.44 sq km

Population 836

Language Latin, Italian

Major Religion Roman Catholicism

Key Data

Notable Public Figures

Francis I - Jorge Mario Bergoglio,
Pope

Pietro Parolin,
Cardinal Secretary of State

Giovanni Angelo Becciu,
Substitute for General Affairs

Paul Richard Gallagher,
Secretary for the Relations with States

Antoine Camiller,
Undersecretary for the Relations with States

Luciano Suriani,
Delegate for Pontificial Representations

Peter Brian Wells,
Assessor for General Affairs

José Avelino Bettencourt,
Head of Protocol

Domenico Giani,
Chief of Vatican Gendarmerie

Croatia and The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans

Croatia has long been known as the bulwark of Balkan Catholicism. The Vatican challenges in the Balkans Bolstering the Catholic Church in 2015 and beyondIt is only here among regional countries that churchmen have very significant influence in state affairs and political life, though the fact that the Holy See has tried to rein in the kind of ultra-nationalism that blighted its image in WWII and in the 1990s wars will remain a sensitive issue as local political dynamics change.

Summary

The country’s predominantly Catholic make-up and ethnic homogeneity, as well as its generally Western culture, insulate it from many of the problems that ethnically- and religiously-mixed Balkan neighbors have. As such, Croatia’s current reality offers challenges to the Vatican that are very similar to those encountered in Western countries.

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Intriguingly, the new worldwide rift in the Catholic Church between the liberalizing strategy of Pope Francis and the residual conservatism of many bishops and priests has been witnessed in Croatia too. Conservative clerics actively encouraged a successful referendum banning gay marriage in December 2013, and grassroots pressure groups continue to call for a ban on abortion. The (albeit razor-thin) defeat of liberal President Ivo Josipovic in early 2015 to an HDZ candidate, and the expected return of the conservative party in upcoming elections, means that the traditional conservative Church power structures may be resurrected. This would lead to increasing tension between conservatives and Pope Francis.

Other challenges in Croatia that again resemble those encountered in Western countries include low mass attendance, a declining birth rate, and general secularization. Nevertheless, the country’s historic Catholic identity means that the Vatican sees it as a strategic pivot for execution of a larger Western-backed policy to strengthen Catholicism all the way down the Adriatic littoral.

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