THE Yugoslav Bishops have been the target for bitter attacks in the Communist Press as a result of their warnings to Catholics at the time of Yugoslavia's nation-wide census nearly six weeks ago
that it might be used against them.
One Bishop in particular, Mgr. Banic, Apostolic Administrator of Sibenik in Dalmatia, has been accused of "deceiving the outside world" by pretending that the Yugoslav census arrangements were de
vised "to serve the ends of religious persecution."
Then Mgr, Banic, in a circular letter to his clergy, referred to the possibility of threats and pressure being brought to bear on individual
Catholics who revealed their religion when filling in the census form. The Bishop asked his priests to consider this real possibility when it came to judging the attitude of those who denied they were Catholics, emphasising that people who did so under duress could not be regarded as formal apostates.
The Yugoslav authorities intercepted Mgr. Banic's letter, and the Communist press rounded on him for daring to suggest that "any pressure is used against any citizen as far as religious convictions are con
The Bishop was accused of making false propaganda "for external consumption," and the official newspaper Borba trumped up the familiar charge that during the second World War Mgr. Banic had been an "Ustachi sympathiser" and a supporter of the Nazi puppet regime of Pavelich.
According to the K.i.P.A. Agency, the Communist authorities took active steps before the census to
secure the greatest possible number of self-declared "unhelievers" in the final count.
For example, the public was reminded of the rule drawn up at the last Communist Party Congress making membership of the party incompatible with membership of any church. Schoolteachers were told that
the State could not tolerate those still affected by "superstition." A vigorous anti religious campaign, by posters and word of mouth, was conducted in factories to intimidate workers. Some of the posters carried legends such as Membership of a Church is a Stigma on the Working Class" and "Belief in God is Reaction in the Atomic Age."
The report also stales that on census day itself militant party mem hers were on duty to ensure as far as possible that all Communises, all Service inert, all teachers and students in State schools. and all civil servants declared themseles "unbelievers."