STATEMENT OF A SERBIAN PRIEST, REV. ANDRIJA D. DIMITRIJEVIĆ,
ABOUT ALOYSIUS CARDINAL STEPINAC
New York, February 10, 1975
I, Andrija D. Dimitrijević, Serbian Orthodox priest, who was ordained to priesthood on August 10, 1953, at the Sabor church in Požarevac (Serbia), declare under oath the following:
His Eminence, blessed in death, Cardinal Dr. Aloysius Stepinac, according to the opinion of many eminent Serbian spiritual leaders – from whom I personally have heard this, is the most esteemed champion [of faith] in the twentieth century, because he was defending the holy Christian faith at the most difficult time, when the faith was, and still is, threatened by Red atheism.
I was in the second year of gymnasium (high school) when he was tried and condemned. All those among the Orthodox people who were concerned about the preservation of the Christian faith turned their eyes and hope upon HIM, because he was keeping the fire of faith alive at the time when no one among the Orthodox Serbs could, or was allowed to do so.
That is why many, including myself, rightly respect him as a high priest of the Church of Christ.
I am personally well acquainted with the pastoral activities of this great Archbishop, and therefore I am free to attest on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of his death that during the war he protected all of those who were endangered by various warring forces, regardless of their religion or nationality.
I have first hand knowledge that the atheist communists, during the first days of their dreadful rule, had made an offer to him in turn for his cooperation. When he, at the time the Archbishop, refused their offer, because as a believer he did not want to cooperate with the atheists, only then the atheists “remembered” that he should be arrested and tried. Because His holy figure had shined in our homeland during the period between the two world wars and continued to shine during the worst days for the Church of Christ, his martyrdom has significance for the entire Christian Church.
A great and righteous man, on his deathbed, departs from his lawless persecutors and said: “Lord, forgive them!”
Whether he will be formally canonized as a saint or not it is not for me to speculate, but in the souls of the true faithful of the entire Church of Christ he is a holy martyr already.
In my possession I have the names and documentation of how much his Eminence had helped during the war not only to the Croatians, but also to the Jews and the Serbs. He was the first in Europe to organize Caritas [to help the needy]. I can not publish [the names and documentation] because those people live in Yugoslavia. I hope that, through the intercession of Cardinal Stepinac with God, freedom will soon come to the Croatian and Serbian peoples, and then we will be able to write and speak freely about these matters.
I have written this not to praise Him, “Who will make the crown of glory for him, when the Maker has already done so?” (Njegoš), but so that we may all learn.
Rev. Andrija Dimitrijević
Serbian Orthodox Pastor and Dean of the “St. Sava” Cathedral in New York
*The above statement was written in Serbina and given to fra Mladen Čuvalo, pastor of Croatian church of St. Cyril and Methodius in New York at the time.