Croatian Christians rise up in support of teacher accused of ‘homophobia’
ZAGREB, Croatia, March 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Recent attacks on Christianity in Croatia in the name of anti-discrimination toward homosexuals have Christians taking to the streets in protest against what they term “Christianofobia.”
The spark for the protests is the case of one religious education teacher, Jelena Mudrovčić, who was accused of “homophobia” in her religion class and taken to court by a homosexual activist group.
Sr. Valentina Mandarić, Director of Religious Education at the Archdiocese of Zagreb, which oversees the religious education (RE) programs, told LifeSiteNews.com, “This is not just a court case against RE teacher Jelena Mudrovčić but rather a case against … RE classes in state schools, which by the way are regulated in agreements between Croatia and the Vatican.”
In Croatia, Catholic religious education classes are allowed in primary and secondary state schools, explained Mandarić. They are an elective subject and parents must give permission for their child to attend.
Mudrovčić, a religion teacher at a primary school in Zagreb, was accused of stating in a Grade 8 religious education class in 2009 that “homosexuality is a sickness.” Mrs. Mudrovčić denied the allegation, maintaining she taught only from the class text which “states what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality.”
The pupil who repeated the accusation, said Mandarić, “does not attend RE class, but happened to be in the class.” After complaining to her mother, the pupil and mother reported the accusation to a lesbian group called Kontra.
An article on the case by the head of the Archdiocese’s Office for Family Life, Vincent Batarelo, explains that the lesbian group invoked “the contentious” Law on Anti-Discrimination.
“The said law when being enacted a couple of years ago was criticized by the Catholic Church in Croatia as a first step in suppressing religious freedom and opening the door to future possible changes in the Family Law,” said Batarelo.
“It is interesting,” added Mandarić. “In the court sessions up to now only the daughter and her mother who made the initial allegations to the Lesbian group are the only ones who assert that Jelena made the quote about homosexuals and sickness. All other parents have stood on the side of Jelena.”
On March 7, 2011, during the latest court session, a peaceful protest organized by Catholic laity took place in front of the Zagreb County Court. The protest received widespread media coverage in Croatia.
“The lesbian group,” Mandarić told LSN, “would like to oust RE out of schools and if possible change Catholic moral teachings and the teachings within Catholicism regarding homosexuality.”
Batarelo corroborated this, saying that “Vukusic and the Kontra group have stated publicly that they are against RE in public schools and the Church’s teachings about homosexuality.”
Over 200 Christian protesters gathered for the peaceful March 7 protest. They bandaged their mouths with a sticker reading “Stop Christianofobia.” Meanwhile, Catholic representatives were permitted to be present and vocal during the proceedings.
“The main message given was that Catholics have a right to RE instructions and moral teachings, a right to publicly espouse them and that tolerance is not the exclusive domain of a select few in society to the detriment of others,” wrote Batarelo.
Among the Catholic representatives were two officials from the Archdiocese Office of Religious Education. The National Catechesis Office under the Croatian Bishops Conference, said Mandarić, has been following the case and has been in contact with Jelena from day one, offering all necessary support.
Batarelo reported that legal experts do not believe Kontra’s case against Mrs. Mudrovčić will succeed.
Christian protesters have organized a Facebook group called “Suzbijanje Krscanofobije” which means “Stop Christianofobia.” Batarelo encouraged others to join in the cause to stop the persecution of Christians in Croatia by contacting the North American Croatian embassies with such a request.
U.S. Embassy of the Republic of Croatia
2343 Massachusetts Ave, NW.
Washington, D.C. 20008-2803 U.S.A
Phone: (202) 588-5899
Canadian Embassy of the Republic of Croatia
299 Chapel Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Phone: (613) 562-7820