Croatian Orthodox Church

Emblem of the Croatian Orthodox Church

The Croatian Orthodox Church was a religious body created during World War II by the Ustasha regime in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

The reason for formation of this church was that Orthodox Christian Churches are state-based. Since Orthodox Christians lived on the territory of NDH, and not that of Serbia, as well as the fact that many countries and peoples of Orthodox Christian faith, that were friendly to NDH, couldn't have properly organized religious life in NDH (Bulgarians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Montenegrins etc.).

Ante Pavelić (left) and Andrija Artuković (in the middle) meet Patriarch Germogen

NDH authorities finally made a move to organize a domestic Orthodox Church. This was part of a policy to eliminate Serb culture from Nazi Croatia. The church lasted from 1942–45, and was intended as a national church to which Serbs living in Croatia would convert, thus making it possible to describe them as "Croats of Orthodox faith". It was only recognized by one other Orthodox church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, on 4 August 1944[1] (at the time, Romania was also under the control of the Fascist regime of Ion Antonescu). The Croatian Orthodox Church was managed by Savić Marković Štedimlija. There were some discussions during the 1990s, after the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, regarding the revival of such a church.

The Croatian Orthodox Church 1942-1945

The Croatian Orthodox Church was created, to be considered one of the three faiths to which Croats could officially belong (the main being Catholicism and Islam). The reason for the creation of this Church was a loss of a significant part of the territory to Partisans and Chetniks, as well as the additional German pressure over growing anarchy in the country, which is why concession to the Serbian population was deemed necessary.[2]

The church was formed by a government statute (No. XC-800-Z-1942) on 4 April 1942. On 5 June, using a statute issued by the government, the church's constitution was passed. On 7 June, Germogen became the only Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb. The church lasted until the collapse of the NDH. Its leader was Germogen, Metropolitan of Zagreb, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, who is said to have had Uniate sympathies, who was shot dead by Partisans after the war as a collaborator. Many or most of the church's priests were Serbian priests compelled to change churches in order to survive, together with defrocked Orthodox priests, émigré priests from Russia, and some Uniate and Roman Catholic priests.

Before the Croatian Orthodox Church was formed, the NDH officially described the Eastern Orthodox Church as the "Greek-Eastern Church", and would refer to it as the "Schismatic Church" or the "Greek non-Uniate Church". The Ustasha wanted to make their church legitimate; they asked for recognition from the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul.

Proposals for a revival in the 1990s

On 6 March 1993, Juraj Kolaric, dean of the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Zagreb, was reported by the Tanjug news agency as stating that the "Orthodox Church in Croatia should be organized along the Macedonian principle, with its patriarch, and break away as far as territory was concerned, from Serbia”.[3] Kolaric tried several times to establish such a church by the "Croat Orthodox believers and possible Croatian Orthodox clergy, because then all the conditions for an autocephalous church would be met". Kolaric claimed that if such a church were formed it would eventually by recognized by the Patriarch of Constantinople as the Serbian Orthodox Church would never again be present in Croatia.


  1. Krišto, Jure. Sukob simbola: Politika, vjere i ideologije u Nezavisnoj Državi Hrvatskoj. Globus, Zagreb 2001. (pg. 258)
  2. Kolaric 2007, pp. 232–234
  3. "The Orthodox Church in Croatia". Vreme News Digest Agency. 15 March 1993. Retrieved 11 Nov 2016.


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