The Pope has halted the canonization process for Aloysius Stepinac, the Croation Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 until his death in 1960. Pope John Paul II had beatified the fiercely anti-communist archbishop, who spent many years in prison and under house arrest in Communist Yugoslavia, in 1998. The archbishop’s actions during World War II, however, especially his ties to the Nazi-aligned, murderous Ustaše regime, have raised criticism not only from the Serbian Orthodox Church but also from other victim groups.
Pope Francis has now halted the all-but-complete process of canonization for Stepinac and established a commission of Catholic and Serbian Orthodox experts instead, which will look more closely into the archbishop’s actions during World War II. The Pope’s decision was described as an “unexpected ecumenical step, without any historical precedent,” according to the German-language website Oekuemenisches Heiligenlexikon (https://www.heiligenlexikon.de/).