Isn’t Croatia famous for Crystal?

I was struck by a couple of stories on CNA, about the ownership of churches.

First, there is a fight over a monastery in Croatia.

Vatican City, Aug 11, 2011 / 11:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican says it is astonished that Croatia’s government has blocked Pope Benedict’s decision to hand back ownership of a Croatian monastery to the Italian Benedictines.


The disagreement centers on the monastery of Dajla, in northwest Croatia. It is situated in an area that was confiscated from Italy by communist Yugoslavia following the Second World War. The monastery is currently in the control of the local Croatian diocese of Porec and Pula.

Earlier this month the Vatican ruled that the monastery should be given back to the Italian Benedictines, along with a reported 6 million Euros (approximately $8.5 million dollars) in compensation.

But the proposed transfer was blocked by the Croatian Ministry for Justice, which also annulled the entire agreement.


Strange, so soon after Pope Benedict’s visit to Croatia.

Then there is this.

Garden Grove, Calif., Aug 11, 2011 / 05:59 am (CNA).- The Diocese of Orange upped its previous bid and signaled openness to new negotiations for the Crystal Cathedral after board members recently announced that the building is no longer for sale.

The diocese announced on Aug. 10 that it submitted “a revised non-contingent offer” to purchase the  Crystal Cathedral for $53.6 million cash – instead of $50 million – and gave the current church ministry the option of a 50,000 square foot alternative worship space for up to 15 years.

Bishop Tod D. Brown said in his statement that the diocese wants to accommodate its needs for a new cathedral, while respecting the Crystal Cathedral Ministry and its legacy.


Perhaps the Diocese of Orange could work something out with the Diocese of Porec and Pula.

Hey… isn’t Croatia famous for crystal?

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  1. flyfree432 says:

    I’ll take “things that make you want to cry” for $500, Alex.
    Given their doctrinal slant, I can imagine the current board of the Crystal Cathedral isn’t pleased that it would be turned into a Catholic Church any more than most Catholics would want it to be a Catholic place of worship. Perhaps a large Orthodox, Lutheran, or Presbyterian place of worship will become available. They are typically more suitable and beautiful than our modern “churches”.

  2. Novum Eboracense says:

    Another huge waste of cash on an egregious “Cultifornia” eye-sore! It can join the list with San Francisco and Los Angeles for soul-less monuments of poured concrete, steel and glass. Can we add Bishop Brown’s name to those of his confreres, Quinn and Mahoney?

  3. Maltese says:

    The “Crystal Cathedral” ranks as one of the ugliest worship spaces in the world. It’s not surprising that the diocese of Orange is clamoring for it. It will complement the green polyester vestments, the electric guitars and congo drums used at their Novus Disordos!

    OK, maybe the Crystal “Cathedral” is a slight bit better than this!

    We’re a long way from Kansas! Catholic faithful sometimes spent a century building incredible worship space; now they go after weird worship spaces created by heretics. Go figure!

  4. gambletrainman says:

    The Diocese of Orange wants to offer $56 million for the “Crystal Cathedral”, and they’re closing hospitals, schools and churches all over California to help pay for all these sex and embezzlement crimes?

  5. Jacob says:

    I’ve read about the thing in Croatia since it came onto my radar a few days ago. Croatia’s point is that in 1978 if I recall, Italy, the Vatican, and Yugoslavia came to some kind of an agreement regarding former Italian possessions then under Yugoslav sovereignty. The monastery was included in reparations made by Yugoslavia and the Benedictines were paid money for their loss. Croatia is now claiming that the Benedictines backed up by the Holy See are reneging on the original agreement.

  6. Son of Trypho says:

    Are there actually enough Italian Benedictines left who could use the facility?

    If there are, why don’t they just cut an agreement to co-habitate the facility with the Croatian religious?

  7. andreat says:

    With $53 million, couldn’t they build a new Cathedral (in the traditional style, of course)?

  8. flyfree432 says:

    “OK, maybe the Crystal “Cathedral” is a slight bit better than this!”

    I disagree. At least that is made out of brick as are many traditional parishes. A few pews, communion rail, altar, you are good to go.

  9. Son of Trypho says:


    I had a look at the costs for the the Oakland Cathedral and it cost almost $200 million to build in the mid 2000’s so I doubt that a cathedral could be constructed for $65 million today.

    There is always the possibility that the US Govt. could be approached for some stimulus money to build the Cathedral and create some local employment…:)

  10. Schiavona says:

    I was wondering when this would hit the international press.

    I can write here only what I managed to discern from the Croatian press because I have no inside connections of any sort, being merely a laywoman. I am open to correction. Forgive the bad English, I’m tired, but I’ll try to tell the story in chronological order.

    Istria is a lovely peninsula in the Adriatic sea. In Istria of yore the Italian church was dominant in western coastal towns, while the Croatian (partly Glagolitic…) church was mostly a church of poor peasants of hinterland.

    In the 18th century count Grisoni gave Dajla to Benedictines of Praglia on the condition they live there. Most of church property was confiscated by the state in 1945-1948, including the Dajla monastery.

    The order in Praglia was remunerated in 1975 according to the Yugoslav-Italian Treaty of Osimo for their various property, but they claim not to have accepted anything for their church, monastery and the land around it.

    After the fall of communism in 1991, plenty of former church property was returned. The Dajla monastery was given to the local diocese in 1997 although it used to be Benedictine and although the law about “de-nationalisation” did not include property whose rightful owners are foreign citizens, which falls under international agreements.

    One could ask why the diocese asked for something that was never diocesan to begin with. (I don’t know any details, it may have been compensation for something else or it may have been greed or it may have been muddled ideas about church and/or property.)

    The old monastery is now in terrible disrepair and parts of its land have been sold by the diocese and the money spent on a seminary and a church elsewhere in Istria.

    Italian Benedictines began asking for Dajla in 2001. The first commission was set in 2003 and then two Vatican congregations (for the religious and for the bishops) were involved until an agreement was reached in 2006 by which it was to be split in half and no civil courts involved. Benedictines did sue the diocese and various new owners in Croatian courts.

    A new commission of cardinal-rank, set in 2010, decided that it should be split 60-40 (more for the Croats) in such a way that the Benedictines would get a part of the land and millions of euros. They would not live in Dajla. Bishop Ivan Milovan of Poreč and Pula decided not to sign this and claims that his diocese would have to declare bankruptcy in order to pay the required sum. (Our dioceses are tiny compared to American.) The bishop was suspended by the Pope in 2011 for the length of a minute for the decision to be signed. Then all of Istrian clergy together with their bishop decided to return the property to the state. But at the last minute, several days ago, Bishop Milovan seemingly capitulated and ordered that the Pope’s decision is to be followed.

    Then (yesterday or day before) the state intervened and the Ministry of Justice declared all previous lower-ranked decisions about the return of the monastery to the church invalid because of the foreign citizens clause i. e. according to the law, it shouldn’t have been returned to the church in 1997 to begin with.

    And now it’s an issue of diplomacy as well, and follows a long trail of animosities – Croats vs. Italians, round 1437583475, on and off since the early middle ages.

    In the papal commission there were two Italians and the archbishop of Zagreb, Josip cardinal Bozanić. He is firmly backing the Pope and has now managed to force the loud Croatian clergy into silence. In the papers it has been speculated (maliciously? I honestly don’t know) that card. Bozanić “sold out” for a future position in the Vatican.

    There may be more to this, aspects that haven’t reached the press or that I failed to understand. I am already tired of it all. I hate to see the church fighting over money. It’s ugly.

  11. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Thanks, Schiavona, for putting down the details. The “fight” over the “monastery” is unfortunately also a microcosmic representation of the so-called local churches vs. “big, bad Rome.” We Croatians are devout but stubborn and I am not surprised that this particular conflict has become a symbol of the age-old Istrian conflicts in general, that have often included a see-sawing relationship with the Vatican. Although the situation is legally very complex, encompassing changed governments, at least three national jurisidictions and the politics of the EU, it is – as you say – very distressing to the see the church fighting over property. There is so little reason for it (this is not the Western Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy requesting return of rightful property stolen by the USSR and later “donated” to the Orthodox by the Russian Federation). What would Bishop Dobrila say?
    [I have some very nice Croatian crystal. It is crystal and not cheap plate glass held together by ugly steel ribbing. Please let’s not compare the two.]

  12. JimP says:

    Pray that the Schullers will satisfy their creditors, or that Chapman University, or some other bidder will outbid the Diocese of Orange for this building. It may be an architectural icon of Orange County, but that’s not really a recommendation. While it probably would not be the ugliest cathedral in the world, but it has about as much Catholic character as the flying saucer at LAX. Also, as one local columnist pointed out, it would always be known as the house that Robert Schuller built.

  13. jasoncpetty says:

    If you already own a piece of land to build on (probably a big part of the reason the diocese wants the crystal thingy–it’s a huge tract), you can definitely build something big that’s more or less traditionally church-y for $50 million. (See Houston’s co-cathedral.)

  14. Maltese says:

    Looked at the slide-show of Houston’s co-cathedral. Another “Ugly as Sin” worship space, sad to say. Not as bad as the Taj Mahoney, admittedly, but ugly enough that I had to reach for my barf-bag when I saw the ginormous stained glass of the risen Christ, really the frontispiece and focal-point of the Church.

  15. acroat says:

    I pray Bishop Brown retires before tge deal is done!

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