March 1997

pages 15-16


Church-state agreement

Legal recognition for Church

Croatia, one of the two traditionally Catholic republics of the former Yugoslavia, has concluded a major agreement with the Vatican. Although not a fullfledged concordat, the document covers major aspects of the relations between church and state in public life.

The agreement, in effect, reinstates many of the rights which the Communist state had denied the Church. Religious marriage ceremonies are recognized as valid in civil law; the Church is guaranteed the right to provide pastoral care for persons in state and private medical and social institutions, including hospitals, orphanages and prisons, and to provide military chaplains for the armed forces and police. The Church is also permitted to establish and run welfare and charitable organizations, provided that they conform to the relevant civil regulations. Catholic schools and colleges are given equal rights (and duties) with state ones; rules are laid down governing the teaching of religion in state schools, and for cooperation between Church and state in protecting Church buildings and other property deemed to be of cultural and artistic importance. V.R.