Vatican ‘astonished’ by Croatian government blocking monastery transfer
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi
By David Kerr

.- The Vatican says it is astonished that Croatia’s government has blocked Pope Benedict’s decision to hand back ownership of a Croatian monastery to the Italian Benedictines.

This “raises astonishment, both for the extraordinary decision and also because the Croatian Prime Minister had expressed her intention to address the problem in a spirit of collaboration,” Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., told CNA August 11.

The disagreement centers on the monastery of Dajla, in northwest Croatia. It is situated in an area that was confiscated from Italy by communist Yugoslavia following the Second World War. The monastery is currently in the control of the local Croatian diocese of Porec and Pula.
 
Earlier this month the Vatican ruled that the monastery should be given back to the Italian Benedictines, along with a reported 6 million Euros (approximately $8.5 million dollars) in compensation.

But the proposed transfer was blocked by the Croatian Ministry for Justice, which also annulled the entire agreement.

Fr. Lombardi said that it is now “imperative to give the interested parties the opportunity for a review of this decision in the appropriate forums.”
 
The Italian Benedictines began their claim for Dajla monastery in 2004. Four years later, Pope Benedict established a special commission of cardinals to rule on the issue. They reported back to the Pope in December 2010.

The commission’s decision in favor of the Italian Benedictines caused protests in Croatia and led to Bishop Ivan Milovan of Porec and Pula being temporarily suspended by Pope Benedict last month to finally allow the agreement to be signed.
 
The Vatican ruling seemed to have particularly angered some Croatians as the Italian Benedictines had already received 1.7 billion liras (approximately $1.2 million dollars) in 1975 when the Treaty of Osimo finally settled the Yugoslav-Italian border.
 
The row comes only two months after Pope Benedict’s visit to Croatia which was acclaimed by most observers as a diplomatic success.

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