Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Kristina Deskar (University of Liverpool) – The Role of the Catholic Church in the Independent State of Croatia
The connection between the Catholic Church and the authoritarian regimes is a well-known phenomenon. This study looks into the relationship between the Catholic Church and the far-right organizations, as well as the Ustasha regime in Croatia before and during World War Two. In 1918, Croatian lands became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from 1929 Yugoslavia) which was made up from areas that were previously part of several different states, which made the new country incredibly complex. There were multiple nations, multiple religions and multiple interests going back to the 19th century. That and the fact that every people and religious organization expected something different from the new country made them feel they had to fight for their place in the society. This is why Catholicism and Croatianhood got more closely linked. Catholic intellectuals and part of the clergy established organizations for laymen such as the Catholic Movement to promote Christian values and Croatianhood, as opposed to Serbian Orthodoxy and Serbdom. When Ustasha regime came to power in April 1941 many of the priests welcomed the Independent State of Croatia and looked forward to the Catholic Church getting the place in society they thought belonged to it. This paper tries to clarify the way the Catholic Church in Yugoslavia influenced the people and prepared the terrain for the arrival of Ustasha regime, as well as the relationship of the Church and the regime during World War Two was like. It argues that, although their aims were similar, the Church did not fully cooperate with the Ustasha regime, while the regime used the Church and Catholic symbolism to gain support among the people and to justify their actions.