Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher  (ANSA)

Ahead of Croatia visit, Archbishop Gallagher praises country's democratic journey

At Mass in Rome, Archbishop Gallagher praises Croatia's democratic journey and encourages prayers for peace worldwide.

By Tiziana Campisi

Two days before his visit to Croatia, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Holy See Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, has invited the faithful to give thanks to God “for the gift of freedom and peace” in the nation, in memory of the establishment of the first democratically elected multiparty Parliament on May 30, 1990.

The Archbishop also urged people to "pray for the gift of peace" for all countries afflicted by wars and conflicts, emphasizing that for believers, “the ‘labor of peace’ is a sacred duty and not merely the result of the generous initiative of men of good will."

He was speaking at the Mass for the country's national day, which he presided over on May 28 in Rome at the Church of Saint Jerome.

God gives inner freedom

In his homily, Archbishop Gallagher focused on following Jesus, which involves facing difficulties, persecutions, and problems that “help us grow if we can accept them as opportunities to gain greater maturity and a conscious responsibility, and we will be happy despite everything.”

He explained that salvation “presupposes our personal commitment” but “is always ultimately a gift of God’s grace.”

The Almighty is “the only one who can save us and change the heart of man, giving him inner and outer freedom from material goods and other false human securities so that he relies on Him alone.”

Commenting on the Gospel passage where Christ tells Peter and the other disciples that whoever leaves “house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel” will receive “a hundred times as much” in this present age and “eternal life” in the future, the Archbishop clarified that “Jesus does not mean that to be his disciples we must despise our loved ones,” but that “in the community, where wealth is not kept for oneself but shared, that is, lived in love, there is the gain of countless brothers, sisters, children, and mothers.”

Therefore, “the natural family is small compared to the great community of believers, in which everyone feels 'carried' by the love of all.”

Holy See-Croatia relations

Bringing his reflection to a close, Archbishop Gallagher entrusted Croatia, "whose contacts with the Holy See have never waned despite many battles throughout history," to the intercession of Our Lady of the Stone Gate, Saint Joseph, and the Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.

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29 May 2024, 12:05