FALSEHOODS ON FILM
The Chancery office of the Diocese of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina feels it necessary to make the following statement regarding the film "Gospa" (our Lady) which has been showing throughout the world from April of this year. While leaving the artistic evaluation of the film to competent film critics, we shall focus our attention on its religious and ecclesiastical content.
1) An abuse of a holy name. From the religious title of the film "Gospa", a believer would expect a lot more religious content in the film: Marian and Mariological studies, or messages of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ. Yet in the film, despite its title "Gospa", there is little said on Mary, the Mother of God. This most holy name of the most blessed amongst women seems to have been used towards promoting worldly personal or group interests and ideas. The honour of the Immaculate Mother of God, full of grace, does not allow her name to be used as a commercial or to promote propaganda.
2) A false presentation of the Bishop. The Chancery office of the Diocese of Mostar, resolutely rejects as untrue all the scenes and words regarding the ecclesiastical behaviour of Msgr. Pavao Zanic, the former diocesan Bishop (under the name of Petar Subic in the film) with respect to the events of Medugorje. One cannot claim "freedom of artistic expression" of the director or scenarist, by presenting falsehoods on the head church official without any basis in reality. Bishop Zanic made an official statement in mid-August 1981 on the phenomenon regarding Medugorje (Glas Koncila, 16/1981, 1). Not even a shadow of cowardliness or easing-off of the bishop before the communist authorities was ever in question, let alone any type of collaboration with them, as can be concluded by watching the film. Instead, the bishop always behaved in a courageous and dignified way. This can be seen from the Bishop's letter of protest to the President of the then State Presidency, Sergej Kreigher, of 1 September 1981, in which the Bishop with indignation condemned all the meaningless slanderous attacks against some Franciscans, including Fra Jozo Zovko, and himself. The Bishop wrote: "As Catholic bishop and head of the Diocese of Mostar, I condemn all these irresponsible slanderous attacks against myself and my priests mentioned, which in no way contribute to a sober evaluation of the events in the parish of Medugorje. These offensive measures discriminate against our civil and human rights. I ask that you heed this protest of mine and that you as the most responsible person in SFRJ (the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) take the most urgent action necessary against such irresponsible blunders" (Crkva na Kamenu, 9-10/1981, 1). To present Bishop Zanic as a collaborator with the communists and as a weakling in conversation with a Franciscan while talking about Medugorje, contradicts all the Bishop's public sermons and statements which are well known regarding these events, especially regarding the mentioned Franciscan priest. As a living witness, Bishop Zanic can also still testify to the truth to everyone!
3) It is truly regrettable that the film titled "Gospa" presents as its protagonist and symbol of the hundreds of Catholic priests who were tortured and martyred in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in the past, a single living religious priest who was just born when others were dying for their faith and fatherland and who has for years now been in irregular standing with his Church! A film which abuses the name of our Lady, which does not shy away from an incorrect and insulting presentation of the local Bishop, under a holy title, yet lacking religious culture, awakens in believers disappointment and does not merit the attention of the faithful!
Mostar, 17 June 1995