I understand the Ustashi (or Ustaše) to have been a fascist organization that dominated Croatia during World War II. This Wikipedia article reputes that Ustashi persecution of non-Croatians was so severe that the Nazi occupiers actually had to intervene to protect some persons.

One Eastern Orthodox Synaxarion commemorates several Serbian Eastern Orthodox clergy whom it claims were tortured and killed by the Ustasi:

  • Bishop Platon of Banjaluka was shod with horse shoes and forced to walk several miles before having a fire lit on his chest by Ustashi members

  • Bishop Sava of Krushedol was tortured and killed in an Ustashi concentration camp

  • Abbot Raphael Momchilovich was tortured and killed in an Ustashi concentration camp

  • Priest Branko Dobrosavljevich was killed with a hammer blow to the head, after witnessing the killing of his son at an Ustashi concentration camp

  • Priest George Bogich was strangled with his own intestines by Ustashi torturers

  • Priest Dane Babich was flayed and left to die by Ustashi torturers

This article from Veterans Today provides some of the gruesome details of the above and other atrocities committed by the Ustashi. The article claims – with quotes from multiple sources – that many of the atrocities instigated by the Ustashi were prompted by Roman Catholic clergy members:

Fra Marko Zovko consistently instigates the peasants to murder and rob the property of Serbs, patronizing them:“If only one Serb stays alive after the war, you will be paying the high price. That is why all Serbs must be exterminated“. Ante Pavelic, the Croatian fuhrer, decorated fra Zovko with the Order of Merit of the second degree.

Catholic atrocities began with the destruction of Orthodox Churches as well as executions of Orthodox priests. Priest Samardzich was killed in Kulen Vakuf. Ustashe kiled his wife and children before his own eyes, before killing him. Martyr’s death was destined for priest Milosh Vuich with many other Serbs from Slunj area. His wife was ripped apart, her unborn baby was taken out of her womb, another two-year old child was muredred as well.

Atrocities by rogue members of clergy from both east and west is nothing new, of course, but the aforementioned Wikipedia claims that the Ustashi was actually supported by the Vatican during and after World War II. In 1998, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb, who, according to some sources complied in the forcible conversion of Orthodox Serbs to Roman Catholicism.

There seems to be a lot of material on the web and in print that connects the Roman Catholic Church with the Ustashi, but frankly some of this seems quite incredible.

Has there ever been any official communication from the Vatican condemning or denying the atrocities carried out by the Ustashi that some have connected to Roman Catholic clergy?

  • Given that the Ustasi has been reported as having committed either an attempt at genocide or ethnic cleansing, in re between 300,000 and 700,000 Serbs (mostly after the Germans overran Yugoslavia) the answer to this would be of interest. Stepinac's name comes up a lot as related to that. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 18:57
  • I'm not sure if my deleted answer regarding the connection between the Medjugorje apparition Franciscans and the Ustashe is visible to others, but it can be read here, for those who may want to improve upon it. I'm not sure how an answer could speak of the Catholic Church but not the Medjugorje Franciscans in connection with the Ustashe and the massacre of Surmanci.
    – Geremia
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 19:58
  • @Geremia, your answer is not visible to me at least. Was it deleted by SE moderators?
    – user19845
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 12:15
  • @coderworks Yes, after receiving a score of -2, it was closed by a mod with this explanation: «Considering that the question ask for "official communication from the Vatican condemning or denying the atrocities carried out by the Ustashi," and not something more general, like "what does Catholicism think about the Ustashi," I don't see this as an answer to the question. It's potentially helpful related information that might make sense in a comment, however.»
    – Geremia
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 20:07
  • 1
    @freethinker36 See my new answer below.
    – Geremia
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


All official statements of the Vatican from 1909 to the present are recorded in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS). Performing the following Google search on the PDFs of the AAS volumes:

Ustaše OR Ustashe OR Ustashas OR Ustashi OR Ustaša inurl:http://www.vatican.va/archive/aas/documents/

reveals that the AAS volumes have not mentioned the Ustaše.

See also my previous answer.

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