Families in Croatia

The focus of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Zagreb, Croatia, June 4-5 will be on the family and building a community with Christian values. In the 84-year-old pope’s 19th trip abroad and his 13th to a European country, he also will continue to underline the importance he places on reviving Europe’s Christian roots. Even though Croatia is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, it has undergone hardships that have tested its foothold on faith: two World Wars, a Nazi invasion and then communist rule under the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Today, threats continue, but under a different guise, said the spokesman of the Croatian bishops’ conference. “Croatia is not an island and as such is facing all of the challenges that are prevalent in western countries,” said the spokesman, Zvonimir Ancic. First among them is “a rampant secularism whose small, but very vocal proponents, with the backing of the majority of the mass media, are actively trying to deconstruct all elements of Croatia’s traditional Catholic identity, he said in an email response to questions. Major challenges facing the church in Croatia include the country’s “very liberal law regulating abortion,” and proposed measures to legalize adoption for same-sex couples, as well as fresh debates over euthanasia, he said.