Stepinac was hailed as a hero by Catholics for his resistance to communism and refusal to separate the Croatian church from the Vatican. But his beatification was controversial because many Serbs and Jews accuse him of sympathizing with the Nazis.
On Saturday en route to Zagreb, Benedict praised Stepinac as a model for having defended “true humanism” against both the communists and the Ustasha Nazi puppet regime that ruled Croatia during the war. The Ustasha, said the German-born pope, “seemed to fulfill the dream of autonomy and independence, but in reality it was an autonomy that was a lie because it was used by Hitler for his aims.”
Associated Press writers Trisha Thomas in Zagreb and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this article.
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