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Ivan Merz and the Catholic Action in Croatia

Slavko Šarić

Puni tekst: hrvatski doc 105 Kb

str. 339-351

preuzimanja: 235



Ivan Merz as a young professor studied catholic philosophy and theology. Church documents, particularly encyclics and decrees written by the last few popes. He found in them the living doctrines of the Church he was to employ in his life and work. Ivan had been a member of Mahnic's Catholic Movement since his earliest youth. At that time, this Movement had been engaged in politics to a great extent and struggled to be completely independent from the hierarchy. Merz, a man of the encyclics could not help investing all his energy into work giving the Catholic Movement a turn of direction towards Pius Xl's Catholic Action. He had been struggling hard to carry this through, particularly in youth since 1922 by orienting youth organisations in the sense of the Catholic Action even before the episcopate gave its instructions. Ivan's work was recognized as being something entirely new, in the spirit of his decisions made during his spiritual excercises in 1923: "I will serve God as a corrective in catholic organisations, since I am aware of permanent strays from the true doctrines in them." In this sense, he appeared in the Association of Eagles as a true ideologist editing the "Golden Book" from which the whole Introduction and some paragraphs talking about placing the Eagles under the higher authority of the Church, papal guidelines and bishops' directives, were cut out at printing. In order to succeed with his ideas of the CathoHc Action — that lay apostolate be in the service of the Church and that the Movement be non-aligned to political parties — he wrote and delivered speeches and lectures all over the country, he had oral and written contacts, keeping particularly filial connections with bishops. For these ideas he was excluded from the Catholic Seniorate (lay leaders of the Catholic Movement) together with the entire group of his associates.
The Bishops accepted Ivan's method of work in the Eagles and in the Catholic Action, sanctioning it and requesting that the Catholic Movement be reorganised in this sense. Finally, on October 21, 1926 the bishops took the leadership of the movement into their own hands.
During 1925, a jubilee-year, Merz travelled to Rome with a large group of Croatian Eagles acting as their guide, on the occasion of an international youth pilgrimage. At a special audience with the Holy Father, Pius XI gave them a warm, hearty long program speech, summing up the principles of the Catholic Action and the program of the Eagles.

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