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Mgr. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar

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A communiqué Regarding the illegitimate bishop and the illegitimate Confirmation

From the Chancery Office of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno

This Chancery Office has already made Communiqués on May 16, 19 and 21 of this year that "bishop Srecko Franjo Novak" upon the invitation of the Franciscan priests who have occupied the parish of Grude: S. Pavlovic, A. Soljic, B. Maric and A. Saravanja - 13 May; then upon the invitation of the dismissed Franciscans who have usurped the parish of Èapljina: Bonifacije Barbaric, B. Rados and M. Vlasic - 20 May and finally upon the invitation of Fra Martin Planinic, who has seized the parish of Tepèici 27 May 2001, conducted the rite of "confirmation".

According to his Certificate of Baptism, Novak is the son of parents who were not married in the Church and only legitimate p.f.c. (= pro foro civili). Yet he was baptised in the Catholic Church (enclosure N. 1 - photocopy of the Certificate of Baptism of 1968 and 2001).

Having been expelled from the Catholic seminary, he joined the Old Catholics. The Sacrament of Holy Order has three levels: Diaconate, Presbyterate and Episcopate. To this day, Novak has not provided any documented proof of his ordination to the priesthood or episcopacy. He has stated: "I possess all documents regarding my High School diploma, my scientific title and proof of completion of theological studies as well as my episcopal ordination in Switzerland in 1989" (Slobodna Dalmacija, 23.5.2001, p. 9). He is hence obliged to prove: who ordained him a priest and bishop? When and where? Who can testify to these events? Where are the originals or the diploma of ordination (testimonium ordinis)? Where can this be verified? The people have a right to know the origins of public figures.

The position of the Chancery Office of the Diocese of Mostar regarding the documents received of Srecko Franjo Novak are the following:

1) A deacon who was denied priestly ordination and never consecrated bishop! Novak was ordained a deacon of the Old Catholic church. He was denied ordination to the priesthood and never became a bishop in that community. This is what the Old Catholic bishop Hans Gerny from Switzerland wrote on 23 May 2001: "Novak studied theology at the Old Catholic theological faculty in Bern. He was ordained deacon by bishop Leon Gauthier. Ordination to the priesthood was denied to him. From that time onward, he has had nothing to do with the Christian-Catholic church nor with any other Old Catholic church of the Union of Utrecht. He never received episcopal consecration according to the rite of the Old Catholic church" (enclosure N. 2: photocopy of Gerny's letter; enclosure N. 3: photocopy of the Old Catholic Dr. Ivo Hrsak's letter from Zagreb, 23 May 2001).

2) Self-proclaimed bishop and even archbishop! We have managed to obtain a copy of the "List of succession" which Novak refers to in speaking to journalists (Slobodna Dalmacija, 23 May 2001, p. 9). In fact, it is the "List of successors of the International Christian community" (Christengemeinde International - die Successorenliste). This "List of succession" has not been presented to the public by Novak because being a false document it does not give him honour. This document begins by listing the names of ten successors of the Canadian community, the current bishop being: "Serge Thériault, from Hull, Canada".

A new title then follows: A list of succession of the International Christian community, and one can see the first name as Leon, 2 May 1983 and then a double cross (indicating an archbishop) with the signature: + Leon Felix (Srecko) Novak. Under his name there are listed six more German and Croatian names of "archbishops" and "bishops" with their signatures, which Leon Felix Srecko Franjo Novak, the self-proclaimed "archbishop", "ordained" himself or together with those he "ordained" earlier (enclosure N. 4: copy of the "List of succession" of "arch/bishop" Novak).

This "List" only proves Novak's religious megalomania. During his seminary days he was known to dress up in a priest's cassock and march through the streets of Zagreb! Many of his superiors and colleagues who are priests today can testify to this.

3) Questions to Thériault and his responses. Having obtained the "List of succession", for the love of Truth and with all ecumenical respect, we sent forth 10 questions via e-mail on 24 May to Serge Thériault regarding S. F. Novak. Amongst the inquiries: Was Novak ever regularly ordained by someone with "apostolic succession"? Who ordained him as bishop? Someone has said that you personally ordained him bishop? If this is true, when and where did this take place? (enclosure N. 5: copy of e-mail with Croatian translation).

Serge Thériault wrote back the same day he received the letter on 24 May 2001 and responded: "I did not ordain him a deacon, priest or bishop ..." (enclosure N. 6: copy of Thériault's letter with a Croatian translation of Questions and Answers). From the response one can understand that up until May of 1983 Novak was not even a deacon, yet on the "List of succession" 2 May 1983 his signature appears as "archbishop" Leon!

4) Thériault's solemn Declaration. The next day, 25 May 2001, we sent Serge Thériault a copy of the "List of succession", according to which he "ordained" Novak a "bishop". Thériault was so upset that he immediately called a meeting of the Synod Council and the same day 25 May issued a resolute "Statement regarding Srecko Novak…".

As the "4th Bishop Ordinary of the Christian Catholic Rite of Community Churches" he declares "that Srecko Novak, Harald Scheffler, Franz Budweiser and others are not, and never have been, canonical clergymen in our jurisdiction, and that they no ordination to the diaconate, the priesthood or the episcopate in the historical Apostolic Succession has been conferred on them by me or by my predecessor, Msgr. O'Neill M. Coté, 1939-1986 ... and in consequence, it is falsely that an Episcopal Lineage in Apostolic Succession is claimed from and through us, as stated in the attached document titled Die Successorenliste of the Christengemeinde International" (enclosure N. 7: copy of the Declaration in English with a Croatian translation).

5) "Professor and doctor of Theology"? Srecko Novak, together with Dragan Hazler, from the "Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Diaspora" in Basel, issued an honoris causa doctorate diploma with his signature as secretarius with a little cross (indicating that he is a bishop) with the following: "Prof. Dr. th. + Srecko Novak", thus suggesting that he is a Doctor of Theology. This is how he signed the diploma given to Hans Joachim Dombrowsky on 7 March 1994 (enclosure N. 8: photocopy of the diploma).

If it is true that he is a "professor and doctor theology" as his signature indicates, then he should at least provide his diploma or any other authentic document of a theological faculty indicating: where, when and from whom did he receive his doctorate in theology. If this is not true, then one knows what this is called in academic circles. What is known though is that he was expelled from the seminary of Zagreb as well as from the Old Catholic theological school before he completed the first level of studies towards a diploma in theology.

Such are the facts of the matter regarding Novak as a pseudo-professor, deceptive-doctor of theology, phony-priest, bogus-bishop and spurious "successor of the apostles" - all this documented with his signature. From his signatures and the documents which others have received from him, we are convinced that we are dealing with not only a dismissed Catholic seminarian, an expelled Old Catholic deacon, but also with a scientific and ecclesiastical falsifier, who the above-mentioned dismissed and disobedient Franciscans of the Province of Herzegovina have promoted to be their "bishop"! These sad events probably best describe how deep the disease of disobedience can go in the Church and concretely in the entire "Herzegovinian affair"!

According to the documents which we have obtained and Novak's statements, we hereby declare that all Novak's masses are invalid and sacrilegious since he has no proof that he was validly ordained a priest, and that all his confirmations are also invalid and sacrilegious since he has no proof that he was validly ordained a bishop!

Conclusion. All of this can be summarised in a single word: TRAGEDY! This is a religious, moral, liturgical, sacramental, dogmatic, catholic, "ecumenical" and especially a Franciscan tragedy! We appreciate the Communiqué given by the Provincialate of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina of 23 May, in which the Province firmly distances itself: "from the actions of certain Franciscans who are already under sanctions by the Generalate of the Franciscan Order and by the local Ordinary. Neither the Franciscans of Herzegovina nor the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, which is truly Catholic, do not stand by these actions ..." (enclosure N. 9: copy of the Statement).

It is scandalous how some disobedient Franciscans have strayed from the principles, hierarchy and order of the Catholic Church deceiving hundreds of candidates for confirmation, thousands of sponsors and parents and giving way to offence and sacrilege against the Holy Spirit. It is evident here that the use of reason has failed and moral idiocy has taken over. "If Gypsies can have their own bishop ... then why can't a Franciscan be consecrated bishop?" Fra Bernard Maric asks (Jutarnji list, 19 May 2001, p. 3). Is this the way to resolve the "Herzegovinian affair"? Is this then an attempt to separate from the Catholic Church through a validly ordained bishop who would not recognise the Holy See? Would such a disobedient or dismissed Franciscan be ordained a "bishop" by the dismissed Old Catholic deacon Srecko Novak, so then that "the last fraud will be worse than the first" (Mt 27:64)?

We humbly pray that the Holy Trinity may keep us, guide us and consecrate us in our holy faith and our faithfulness to the Catholic Church.

Mostar, 28 May 2001. Msgr. Luka Pavlovic Vicar General

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