Young Franciscan from Mostar endures threats after criticizing HDZ

Published in Mostarlife on 15 February 2014, reprinted from the Croatian web portal

It is hard for a day to pass in BH in which the situation is not extremely turbulent – especially the most recent period and the protests that have flared up in many cities. Still, there’s one case that has captured the attention of the Herzegovinan public to an unprecedented extent: It is the situation in which the young Herzegovinan Franciscan monk Fra Dalibor Milas of Mostar finds himself. The Bosnia-Herzegovinan public-at-large knows him as the Franciscan who is a little different from the rest. A little and quite a lot.

Fra Dalibor Milas has long taken a no-holds-barred approach to forthrightly criticizing the situation in the Church, the Herzegovinan region, and Herzegovinan politics. His openness and charismatic altruism have made him a rare bright spot in a system where for years everyone has been mostly “free of sin.” His opinions have been made available on many websites, and he has never backed down an inch, teaching that progress comes only when we change ourselves, the environment in which we live, and all the bad things that we are constantly sweeping under the rug.

But after his latest public statements, Fra Milas is getting a clear sense of what the crime of a “verbal offense” from the darkest days means, and he is also learning that some sacred things are more sacred than others. Like the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) of BH and its great leader, Dragan Čović. In his most recent text on a Herzegovinan portal, Fra Milas wrote the following:

“Violence is never the solution, because evil can never be defeated with evil, nor can darkness be ‘illuminated’ with darkness. The problem of the Croat nation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is our perennial need to flee from ourselves and seek our salvation in others. The Croat nation is living in a mental dictatorship of the HDZ, which, truth be told, is also to blame for 20 years of constant groping in the dark. The HDZ has significantly abetted a society that promotes bribery and corruption and that is making that same corruption the only possible way of functioning, which has destroyed both the hope and the confidence of people in BH. If the HDZ intends to continue governing the Croat community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, it needs a new vision and new political programs, which presuppose new, top-notch, incorruptible people.

“As regards Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for more than twenty years now the question of national unity has been persistently imposed on BH Croats, like Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be,’ although later that proved to be nothing more than the struggle to keep the HDZ in power. Thus, after these protests too, the HDZ has (once again) emphasized that this is a struggle against Croats.

“In this way, our monolithic politics have been reduced to a humanitarian campaign to save the HDZ under the watchword of ‘Croat unity,’ the formula being one nation, one territory, one party, and one leader. Meanwhile, the politicians have obviously also closely studied the church hierarchy and ways of courting high-ranking church dignitaries. But these erstwhile communists, who are now installed in the front pews of newly constructed churches, where the cameras record them awkwardly trying to cross themselves, have not even thumbed through the Bible by which they so ardently swear. We are still living in a classic dictatorship. The people know nothing. We essentially have no television, and the newspapers are controlled by politicians through their puppets.”

Order’s provincial office for Herzegovina distances itself from priest’s statements, while HDZ threatens

This is a painful and simple truth – because of which the young priest will learn, in the hardest possible way, that some things are not to be toyed with. And that there are some worldly gods who are inviolable. According to reports, the text was followed by unheard-of attacks, threats, and terror, which this young man has experienced in recent days. And he is not alone: All the people close to him are also being threatened and harassed. The culmination of it all came when his order’s provincial office for Herzegovina distanced itself from him on its website and essentially renounced its priest’s positions, barring him from making further public statements – the explanation being that the “faithful are confused” and have repeatedly contacted the office regarding the text in question.

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