Agreement between The Holy See and the Republic of Croatia on Legal Questions (1996)
Note the requirement in Article 8 that the Church get advance warning of any impending investigation of its clerics. In light of the atrocities perpetrated during the Croatian Holocaust (1941-45) and the Croatian War of Indpendence (1991-95), this may be a prudent move.
Agreement between The Holy See and the Republic of Croatia on Legal Questions
Signed 19 December 1996 [ratified 9 April 1997]
The Holy See and the Republic of Croatia,
wishing to establish a legal framework for relations between the Catholic Church and the State of Croatia, with reference to the legal provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and in particular to Articles 40 and 41 on religious freedom and freedom of conscience;
and with reference to the Holy See and the documents of the Second Vatican Council and to the norms of Canon Law;
and mindful of the invaluable role the Church plays in the field of educating the people of Croatia and the Church’s historic and actual/present role in the area/field of social, cultural and educational endeavour;
and conscious that the majority of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia are part of the Catholic Church;
and with reference to internationally recognised principles concerning religious liberty,
the parties have mutually agreed the following:
The Republic of Croatia and the Holy See reaffirm that the State and the Catholic Church are each and severally independent and autonomous, and enter into this agreement with respect for this principle in their relations and for their reciprocal collaboration for the general development of [the] spiritual and material well-being of mankind and for the promotion of the common good.
i) The Republic of Croatia recognizes the legal status of the Catholic Church.
ii) The Republic of Croatia recognizes also the legal status of all its institutions in accordance with the norms of Canon Law
iii) The competent Ecclesiastic authority may set up, modify, annul or recognize the legal status of persons according to the norms of canon law. This authority shall inform the competent state administrative body for the appropriate form of registration according to the appropriate civil norms.
The Republic of Croatia guarantees the Church and its legal bodies and persons the freedom to communicate and maintain contact with the Holy See, the Bishops Conference of other countries and also with their individual churches, institutions, and persons, whether within or outside the state.
With respect for the right of religious freedom, the Republic of Croatia shall recognize the Catholic Church and its community as regards any religious rite the free exercise of its apostolic mission, particularly regarding religious worship, governance, the pursuit, and activities of association as set out in Article 14.
It is the exclusive responsibility of the competent ecclesiastical authority freely to organize the administration of ecclesiastical affairs, to set up, change, and dissolve ecclesiastical provinces, archdioceses, dioceses, apostolic bodies, territorial prelatures, territorial abbacies, personal prelatures, parishes, institutions of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, as well as other legal ecclesiastical persons.
i) It is the exclusive responsibility of the Catholic Church to appoint and confer ecclesiastical office in accordance with the norms of Canon Law.
ii) The appointment, transfer, and dismissal of Bishops are wholly within the exclusive competence of the Holy See.
iii) Prior to the publication of the appointment of diocesan Bishops, the Holy See shall inform the Croatian government in confidence.
i) The Republic of Croatia shall guarantee the Church the freedom to exercise religious services.
ii) The Republic of Croatia shall guarantee the Church the inviolability of its places of worship: churches, chapels and their respective grounds.
iii) Only under exceptional circumstances and with the explicit agreement of the competent ecclesiastical authority shall such places be designated for other purposes.
iv) In exceptional circumstances for the protection of life and property of particular artistic or historic value, the competent authorities of the Republic of Croatia shall take preventative measures in the places mentioned above even without notifying the appropriate ecclesiastical authority.
v) Prior to the exercising of public worship in places other than those indicated in paragraph 2 (in cases of processions, pilgrimages or other such activities) the competent ecclesiastical authority shall give prior notice to the competent authority of the Republic of Croatia, which has the duty of guaranteeing public order and safety.
i) In cases of an investigation of an ecclesiastical person for possible offences committed under the Penal Code, the legal authorities shall give prior notice to the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities.
ii) In all circumstances, the secret of the confession is inviolable.
i) Sundays and the following feast-days shall be free from work:
(a) 1 January, the Feast of the Most Holy Mary, the Mother of God, New Year’s Day
(b) 6 January, the Epiphany of the Lord or Holy Magi
(c) Easter Monday
(d) 15 August, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(e) 1 November, All Saints’ Day
(f) 25 December, the Nativity of Our Lord
(g) 26 December, the first day after the Nativity, St Steven’s Day
ii) The two interested parties shall agree on any subsequent modifications to feast-days.
i) Legally recognized ecclesiastical persons shall have the right to acquire, possess, and enjoy or dispose of moveable and immovable property, as well as acquire or lose property rights in accordance with the provisions of canon law and within the law of the Republic of Croatia
ii) Legal persons mentioned in Paragraph 1 above may set up foundations. Their activity in so far as they incur civil consequences shall be regulated according to the legal norms of the Republic of Croatia.
i) The Catholic Church has the right to build churches and ecclesiastical buildings and to develop or change those which already exist within current regulations of the Republic of Croatia.
ii) The diocesan Bishop shall decide on the necessity for constructing ecclesiastical buildings and the choice of site in agreement with the competent bodies of the Republic of Croatia.
iii) The competent authorities of the Republic of Croatia shall not consider requests for the construction of ecclesiastical buildings without receiving written consent from the diocesan Bishop.
i) The Catholic Church is guaranteed the freedom to print, publish and distribute books, newspapers and magazines for any activity connected with its mission.
ii) The Catholic Church shall also have access to means of mass communication (newspapers, radio, and television). The Catholic Church furthermore has the right to set up and organize its own radio and television within the laws laid down by the Republic of Croatia.
i) Marriage according to canon law, from the moment of its celebration, shall enjoy the benefits of civil law according to the legal norms of the Republic of Croatia if there are no civil or contrary impediments and if they meet the legal requirements established by the Republic of Croatia.
ii) The means and the period within which marriage registration may be undertaken are laid down by the respective laws of the Republic of Croatia.
iii) The preparations for canon law marriage shall include the instruction of the future spouses in the teaching of the Church on the pre-eminence of the sacrament of marriage, and in particular on its indissoluble nature as well as on the civil effects of the marriage bond according to the law of the Republic of Croatia.
iv) The decisions of ecclesiastical tribunals to annul a marriage and decisions of the Supreme Authority of the Church on the dissolution of the marriage bond shall be communicated to the competent civil tribunal to effectuate the civil consequences of the order, according to the legal norms of the Republic of Croatia.
i) The Republic of Croatia shall recognize the right to assembly of the faithful according to the proper aims of the Church. As far as the civil effects of their activity are concerned, they shall be regulated according to the legal norms of the Republic of Croatia.
ii) The Republic of Croatia guarantees Catholic persons and their associations and institutions complete freedom of action both in verbal and written form.
The Catholic Church has the right to set up educational institutions of any level and to manage them according to the proper norms with respect for the legal provisions of the Republic of Croatia.
i) The Republic of Croatia recognizes and guarantees the Catholic Church the right to provide pastoral care for the faithful who reside in penal institutions, hospitals, orphanages, and in all institutions providing medical and social assistance, whether public or private.
ii) The pastoral care in the aforementioned institutions of a public nature shall be regulated by an appropriate agreement between the competent ecclesiastical authorities and the same of the Republic of Croatia.
i) The Catholic Church shall freely organize institutions whose purpose is to provide charitable and social care, in accordance with the appropriate civil norms.
ii) Ecclesiastical institutions providing welfare and of a charitable nature dependent upon the Church shall operate in conformity with the appropriate statutes and shall enjoy the same rights and privileges as state institutions founded for the same purposes.
iii) The Catholic Church and the Republic of Croatia shall agree on mutual collaboration between the particular welfare and charitable institutions.
iv) The competent authorities of the Republic of Croatia and the competent ecclesiastical authorities shall establish a mutual agreement on the economic subsidies that the Republic of Croatia shall provide for the institutions of the Catholic Church providing communal benefits for society.
v) The civil consequences of the institutions mentioned in Paragraph I of this article shall be regulated according to the legal norms of the Republic of Croatia.
i) The Republic of Croatia and the Holy See shall resolve by mutual agreement and through diplomatic channels any doubts or difficulties that may arise in the interpretation or implementation of the arrangements of this present agreement.
ii) Matters of common interest which require new solutions or further amplification shall be dealt with in an appropriate Joint Committee comprising representatives of the two Parties, which shall submit their proposal for the approval of the respective Authorities.
i) The present Agreement shall be ratified according to procedural norms appropriate to the contracting Higher Parties and shall come into effect upon the exchange of the ratified deeds.
ii) Should any of the Higher contracting Parties consider there to be a radical alteration in circumstances under which this present Agreement has been established requiring necessary modifications, due notice shall be given of appropriate negotiations.
Giulio Einaudi for the Holy See
Jure Radić for the Republic of Croatia
Accordo tra la Santa Sede e la Repubblica di Croazia circa questione giuridiche
AAS 89 (1997) 277-287
Translated by Dr. David Holohan