Saturday, January 20, 2018

Titoist Crimes: 50 Priests Murdered in the Foibe Massacres

(Written by Antonio Pannullo, taken from the newspaper “Secolo d'Italia”, February 10, 2015)

It was only with the law of 2004 (which established the Day of Remembrance in memory of the victims of the Foibe Massacres and Julian-Dalmatian Exodus, on the initiative of the Triestine deputy Roberto Menia) that the majority of Italians became aware of what happened in our northeastern territories in the 1940's. Twenty thousand Italians were murdered, thrown into sinkholes, over 350,000 people were forced to abandon Istria and Dalmatia, driven by the fury of the Communist Partisans of Tito. It was a full-blown genocide according to all criteria: first the indiscriminate extermination of the population living in a determined territory, so as to force the survivors to abandon it; then the occupation of that territory and the confiscation – or rather the theft – of lands and homes from the legitimate owners.

These wounds, along with the mass murders, were never healed. Among those people who were killed and thrown into the foibe (that is, deep pits or sinkholes in the Carso), often while still alive, there were also priests. And this too has been learned only recently, because for decades a heavy curtain of silence covered up these events, with the complicity of the weak Christian Democratic government which did not want to displease Yugoslavia, but above all did not want to damage their alliance with the Socialists, which had just been accomplished.

It seems that the priests who were murdered in this way were no less than fifty, some of whom are still unknown to us and some of their bodies have never been found. Don Francesco Bonifacio, who was tortured and murdered by the Titoists, was beatified on October 4, 2008 in the Church of San Giusto in Trieste by Benedict XVI, 62 years after the fact.

Bonifacio: the priest whose body was never found again

Francesco Bonifacio was born in 1912 in Pirano, today part of Slovenia. He was nicnamed el santin (the saint) because of his goodness. In 1946 he was chaplain at Villa Gardossi, a large agricultural town in the Istrian hinterland, and it was there that he was surprised by four men of the “People's Guard” (the name which the fierce Titoist murderers hid behind), who mocked him, then savagely beat him, stoned him, stripped him and finally stabbed him before throwing him into the foiba of Martines. He was never seen again. His brother, who immediately looked for him after learning what had happened, was incarcerated on charges of inventing stories.

Many years had to pass before the story was revealed to the public. Witnesses came forward and revealed the atrocities which took place in those last hours. But the curtain of silence had already come down, and no one talked about Don Bonifacio for many years. In 1957 the Bishop of Trieste, [Antonio] Santin, began the cause for beatification, but his cause was ignored for 40 years, proving that there was indeed a veil of silence attempting to forever conceal the Foibe Massacres. Only recently did Benedict XVI have the courage to declare that Bonifacio was killed in hatred of the Faith.

In September 2013, the name of Miro Bulesic was added to Bonifacio. He was assassinated by Red Partisans in August 1947 in northern Istria. Bulesic was beatified in the Pola Arena in a moving ceremony, during which it was learned that 434 priests were killed in the dioceses of Croatia in the 1940's, in addition to another 24 deaths due to torture and abuse in prison. On August 24, 1947, during a confirmation ceremony in the church of Lanisce, Communists broke into the place of worship, destroyed everything, set fire to the church itself and brutally beat Don Miro, throwing him against the wall and finally slaughtering him with a knife. The man responsible for the crime was later acquitted.

The tragedy of Don Angelo Tarticchio

But the slaughter of religious had begun much earlier: in September 1943 the Yugoslav Partisans kidnapped Don Angelo Tarticchio, parish priest of Villa di Rovino, in the middle of the night and threw him into the prisons of Montecuccoli Castle in Pisino, Istria. After a few days he was brought to the town of Lindaro together with 43 other people. They were tied together with barbed wire, killed by gunfire and thrown into a bauxite quarry.