(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) The mass dedicated to praying for the soul of Tito a hard-line atheist was held at St. Mark’s Church in Zagreb on Sunday - a response toa service held for WWII Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic in late December.
Vojislav Mazzocco a journalist and columnist for Croatian news portal Index said he organised Sunday’s event in order to conduct “a small social experiment” after the mass commemorating Pavelic which sparked a protest by anti-fascists. “More than 59 years have passed since the death of Ante Pavelic for whom a holy ceremony was held some 10 days ago; more than 30 years have passed since the death of Josip Broz Tito and still people have deep disagreements over them; people are arguing and ready to fight at least on social networks” Mazzocco said. “I would be happy if nobody came to the mass. This would show that this society is ‘growing up’ leaving some things behind” he added. Around 50 people attended the service. Mazzoccoalso said that he hoped that the event would help “in reconciling different groups since this is the [general] purpose of holy ceremonies”. Sunday’s mass was led by Catholic priest Franjo Prstec who held a straightforward service but included criticism of Tito who took tough action against agitation for independence in any of the former Yugoslav republics while he was in power. “You’ll forgive me but we shall also pray for those who didn’t want Croatia [to exist]” Prstec said.
Over 300 people gathered in another church in Zagreb on December 28 for the mass celebrating Pavelic who ruled the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia NDH between 1941 and 1945. Around 70 anti-fascists protested in front of the church accusing Pavelic of being a war criminal. Some of them were attacked by a group of around 15 pro-fascist hooligans. Tito who was born in 1892 in the village of Kumrovec in northern Croatia was the leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party before WWII. He and the Communist Party led the anti-fascist resistance in Yugoslavia in WWII clashing with Axis troops Pavelic’s Nazi puppet and other Yugoslav fascist collaborators. He became president after the war and made Yugoslavia a single-party regime ruling the country until his death in May 1980. Tito was a hard-line atheist and although limited freedom of religion under his rule the Catholic Church and other religious bodies opposed his regime. After the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s Tito became a controversial figure but retained some faithful admirers whogo to Kumrovec every year to mark his birthday.