Croatia has a general concordat establishing a legal framework for the Church, which is amplified by further concordats for education and culture, a military vicariate and finances:
♦ “Legal questions” (signed 19 December 1996), which establishes a basic framework, granting the Church and its institutions the status of public corporations
♦ “Education and culture” (signed 19 December 1996, ratified 23 May 2011), which provides for Catholic catechism in state schools
♦ “Spiritual Assistance” (signed 19 December 1996) which covers military chaplains
♦ “Financial questions” (signed 9 October 1998) which provides for the return of all Catholic Church property confiscated by the Communist regime after 1945.
And apart from these agreements there are others. In July 2000 the Catholic Church signed an agreement with the state-run Croatian State Radio and Television (HRT) to provide regular, extensive coverage of Catholic events (as many as 10 hours per month). Other denominations receive approximately 10 minutes broadcast time per month or less. (IRF Report, 2001)
About 85 percent of Croatians are Roman Catholic. In addition to the concordats and other agreements with the powerful Catholic Church, Croatia has agreements with the fifteen other denominations that together make up only 15 percent of the population. (IRF Report, 2010) This situation is favourable for the Vatican, because it prevents any unified opposition to concordats, as each religious splinter group tries to negotiate its own minor perks.
In April 2010 the Constitutional Court refused to rule on the constitutionality of an agreement between the government and the Vatican related to the provision of catechism in elementary and high schools. The court stated that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter since it was unable to rule on the merits of international treaties. The decision was in response to a suit filed in 2000 claiming that the agreement violated the equal rights of all citizens. The suit claimed that those who did not attend catechism were not provided with classes in either their own faith or on ethics. (IRF Report, 2010)
The Pope voiced his support for Croatia’s bid to join the European Union where this extremely conservative Catholic country may help uphold Vatican policies. Half a year before its accession date in 2013, before the Vatican lost this leverage, the Croatian Prime Minister visited the Vatican and was urged to give up a monastery property to an Italian order, rather than remaining under its Croatian diocese, whose bishop had already been removed over the matter. The Vatican appears to be trying to get direct control of valuable property, as in the dispute over the Catholic university in Peru.