On the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the death of Msgr. Pavao Žanić, the late bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and Apostolic Administrator of Trebinje-Mrkan, his successor, Bishop Ratko Perić celebrated the evening Holy Eucharist in the Cathedral of Mary Mother of the Church in Mostar, for the repose of the soul of the deceased bishop. Some of late Bishop Pavao’s assistants concelebrated in the Mass: the pastor of the Cathedral parish Msgr. Luka Pavlović, the Chancellor of the Diocesan Chancery Fr. Ante Luburić, and the choir master of the Cathedral Fr. Dragan Filipović. Bishop Ratko spoke to the faithful on the heroic stance of Bishop Žanić towards communist ideology, thereby disproving the recent attacks against his noble Episcopal character, while also being aware that he must tell the truth about the bishop so that lies and slander not be spread against him!
Twelve years have gone by since on this very day of 11 January, that the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Msgr. Pavao Žanić passed away at the Firule Hospital in Split. He was buried two days later in the cemetery of Kaštel Novi, in his family’s tomb, as personally requested in his Last Will and Testament.
“Collaborator?” In the second half of 2011, more than usual, some have accused Bishop Žanić of allegedly being a “collaborator” of the UDBA [Yugoslav secret police]: moreover that he succumbed to the pressures and threats of the UDBA and thereby changed his position on the so-called “apparitions” of Medjugorje. It is as if he initially accepted the “apparitions” as being true and then, under communist threats, denied their authenticity. It is also significant that this now comes from those who are defending in this fashion the “mystery” of Medjugorje. Unfortunately, one of those who has joined this sad march is the “visionary” Marija Pavlović – Lunetti in the book “Viaggio a Medjugorje” [Journey to Medjugorje], published by Paolo Brosio last year in Italy. On page 133 of this book one can read this question and answer:
Brosio: “The police sought from him [Fr. Jozo Zovko] that he deny the apparitions and Marian faith, but Fr. Jozo always refused”.
Marija: “The communist police called the then Bishop Msgr. Pavao Žanić to the Commissariat of Mostar and ordered him: ‘You must deny everything and nothing will happen to you’ and so Žanić denied everything”.
Show the evidence! It is strange how the “visionary” boldly testifies this claim as if she personally went with Bishop Žanić to the “Commissariat”! And she says this without providing any information on the date, without any quotes and evidence? Does the lady “visionary” have any evidence, especially in writing, even from the communist UDBA, in order to prove this "claim"? It is unclear why Marija, who repeatedly met with Bishop Žanić from 1981 to 1987 in Mostar and Medjugorje, did not personally tell this to the bishop himself, especially when the “visionaries” passed on “Our Lady's message” that the bishop must recognize Medjugorje! The “visionary” provides no evidence for her arbitrary statement, yet definitely remembers that she, Marija Pavlović, along with Vicka Ivanković and Jakov Čolo, on 14 January 1982 came to the Diocesan Chancery, in order to bring “Our Lady's message” to Bishop Žanić that he “exaggerated” in resolving the centuries-old “Case of Herzegovina”. This is when the bishop came to the realization that the “visionaries” were in the service of false religious “advisors” in the painful “case” regarding the transfer of some of the parishes. Would the “visionary” Marija be prepared to swear on the Gospel that she is telling the truth about her bishop at that time?
A look at the documentation. Last November, the local Bishop Ratko Perić asked the honourable Mr. Almir Džuvo, Director of the Intelligence and Security Agency of B-H in Sarajevo, to allow him access to the UDBA reports in connection with Bishop Pavao Žanić and Medjugorje. The Director kindly complied and made available in photocopy more than 30 documents from the years 1981 to 1988. Not one of the documents makes any mention anywhere, of any kind of communist coercion or threats under which Bishop Žanić would have made a “denial” so that nothing would “happen” to him, as the “visionary” “informed” the public in the Italian language. Moreover, in several reports that were sent during these years from the security services of Mostar to their higher offices in Sarajevo, it is clear that Bishop Žanić did not want to meet with the President of the Commission for Religious Questions on 14 July 1981. And being a persistent opponent of the communist system, it is explicitly mentioned that he is a “bearer of enemy activity” under number 1 in the documents dated: 31 January 1983; 7 November 1983; 8 December 1983; 4 January 1984; 7 March 1984; 24 April 1986. He was an ideologically principled opponent of communism during all his time in Mostar, from 1971 to 1993.
The truth shall set you free. In the miscellany on Bishop Pavao Žanić titled “The Truth shall set you Free”, Mostar 1992, there is an extensive discussion between the editor of this work Fr. Tomo Vukšić, who today is the Military Ordinary of B-H, and Bishop Pavao. The editor put forth the question: “Many of your homilies contained criticisms of the communist authorities and ideology. I personally oftentimes listened to these criticisms. On what grounds did you base your convictions and courage?” Fr. Tomo was associate pastor of the Cathedral parish of Mostar between 1980 and 1982.
The Bishop replied: “Being a principled opponent of communism – the universal lie – I often took aim against this lie. The communists had in their hands all means of intimidation against people, especially on the youth. The faithful were being ‘disciplined’ everywhere. Communism bathed the entire world in blood and despite this it still had its adherents. And yet, it disintegrated because it controlled everything for too long through lies, force and empty words. I did not end up in jail but I was the last person in Split to receive a passport.
I was constantly being eavesdropped. This was once revealed to me by a professor of English language. When we met, he told me that he would like to speak with me alone. He asked that I accompany him in his car and we then went to the outskirts of the city. He then confided to me that he was given the duty of listening in on my conversations. I asked him how he goes about this. He told me: ‘I don’t know how. I have my hours of eavesdropping duty on three lines, that of the English Consul, [Archbishop] Franić and [Priest] Žanić. I follow and write things down and I receive a reward since my salary as a professor is low’. Then he went on to tell me what I spoke about two days earlier in my conversation with Dr. R. This convinced me that he was not lying. Afterwards, I invited an expert to check my telephone, but he didn’t find anything suspicious.
While preparing a mission for the faithful in 1962-63, I was in charge of information and the preparation of necessary materials. Once, when I was not at home, they [the UDBA] entered my apartment and took away all the materials I had that were written by hand or typewriter, mostly sermons. After a while the communists started calling me at times in order to ask what I meant when I said this or that. They gave back some of the materials, but most of it remained confiscated. They said that they would need it. They also took away several tape-recorder reels which I only got back with great difficulty” (pp. 15-16).
This is what Msgr. Pavao Žanić was like, as a priest in Split and bishop in Mostar. And the testimony and documents provided effectively show that the claims made by the “visionary” are untrue. And only the truth makes us free!
 P. Brosio, Viaggio a Medjugorje, Milano, 2011, p.133:
Brosio: “La polizia gli chiedeva [a padre Jozo Zovko] di rinnegare le apparizioni e la fede mariana, ma padre Jozo ha sempre rifiutato”.
Marija: “La polizia comunista convocò il Vescovo dell’epoca, monsignor Pavao Žanić al commissariato di Mostar e gli intimarono: ‘Voi dovete negare tutto e non vi succederà nulla’ e così Žanić negò tutto”.