Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bishop on stamp

Alojzij Šuštar (*1920,†2007) had been the metropolitan archbishop of Ljubljana, Slovenija. He has been recently commemorated on a postage stamp. This is significantly interesting, in that, most of his life, the government was that of communist Jugoslavija. During the war he was studying in Rome, and for several years, thereafter, he was in Switzerland. In 1993 Slovenija became independent and communist dictatorship ended. Under communism the church and its adherents were severely oppressed.

Gregorij Rožman was bishop during world war ii and the civil war. The communists won the civil war and engaged in a blood lust. Rožman went into exile and died in Cleveland, Ohio, where he resided at Saint Lawrence parish from 1948 to his death in 1959. Currently there is an attempt for his historical rehabilitation, for all those whom had opposed Tito and communism were held as the worst sort of traitors.

Rožman was convicted in absentia in a military show trial. A successor, Anton Vovk, was set on fire at a train station. Vovk's attackers were given leniency, and were condoned by the court, for understandably being upset with the continued presence of a cleric openly engaging in society. Another bishop, Jozef Pogacnik, was imprisoned.

Archbishop Šuštar was bishop during the transition of governments. In the late 1980s, partly with the current of freedom expanding in east europe, relations between state and church improved. Christmas was allowed as a public celebration. The postwar massacres of more than ten thousand (which were aided by british treachery) at Kočevski Rog were publicly lamented.

But half of a century of communist propaganda and rule was, and is, still embedded in society. There was no accounting of communist crimes. There is still a division in society and much of the old propaganda is still extant and influential.

Šuštar was held in some esteem by both communities. It can be seen in the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp. The stamp has the motto, "Dei voluntatem facere", which in english reads "To do the will of God". This would have been unthinkable a generation ago, under the previous régime.

Now, to completely career into a different tangent. The letter above travelled from the archdiocese of Ljubljana to the diocese of Cleveland. Ljubljana's bishop has been put on a stamp. Cleveland's bishop, Richard Lennon, is putting his image on Cleveland's church. Now, the first bishop of Cleveland was Louis Amédée Rappe. Saint Emeric's parish has the bell from, what had been, Cleveland's only french parish, Annunciation. That bell has Rappe's name on it. Richard Lennon for his work will never be commemorated on either a stamp or bell. Such remembrance is a sign of respect and affection and acknowledgment of positive achievement. He has neither helped the church to grow or survive. People will not remember him with any fondness, for he will be remembered as 'Dick the Destroyer of Parishes'.

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