OCTOBER 7 2012 17:11h
MARIJA BISTRICA, Oct 7 (Hina) - The 20th pilgrimage of the Croatian army and police to Croatia's biggest Marian shrine at Marija Bistrica was held on Sunday, with mass said by the apostolic nuncio to Croatia, Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico and a sermon delivered by the military ordinary, Bishop Juraj Jezerinac, who told the faithful not to fear the future but rely on the history of their homeland and on faith.
More than 5,000 members of the army, the Interior Ministry, Homeland War veterans and their families made the pilgrimage, alongside Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic, Deputy Interior Minister Evelin Tonkovic, Deputy War Veterans Minister Vesna Nadj, the military Chief-of-Staff -- General Drago Lovric, members of the Bosnian army led by military bishop Tomo Vuksic, U.S. military bishop Timothy Broglio, the director of the International Military Pilgrimage -- Blaise Rebotier, French military bishop Luc Ravel, and Polish military bishop Jozef Guzdek.
"Let's stay deeply connected by prayer, let's stay away from divisions, let's nurture the worth of others, let's respect the rights of life and man, let's preserve the good that has enabled our people to survive. Let's thank God for the killed defenders, let's pray for those killed, may he give the accused Croatian generals and all defenders his strength to endure the current hardships," Jezerinac said among other things.
He recalled that the Church's care for soldiers and police in Croatia began in 1991, at the beginning of the military aggression against Croatia, when then President Franjo Tudjman asked the president of the Bishops' Conference on 24 September 1991 to provide spiritual care to the defenders of the homeland.
On 25 April 1997, the Holy See established the Military Ordinariate in Croatia, approving its statute next year. The rule book on the organisation and activity of the Military Ordinariate was signed in Zagreb on 3 December 1998 by the president of the Croatian Bishops' Conference and the ministers of defence and the interior.