Ratko Perić (born 2 February 1944) is a Croat theologian and bishop prelate of the Catholic Church and the current bishop of Mostar-Duvno and apostolic administrator of Trebinje-Mrkan.
Family and education
Ratko Perić was born in the village of Tuk, in the municipality of Rovišće, near Bjelovar in present-day Croatia, where his parents, Grgo and Anica née Raguž, moved from Rotimlja near Stolac. He was baptised on 5 February 1944 in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Rovišće. The family moved back to Rotimlja in 1946. There, Perić enrolled at the elementary school in 1951. He received his confirmation in Prenj, Stolac on 23 July 1953 by Andrija Majić, the bishop's delegate. Perić continued his education at the elementary school in Crnići near Čapljina from 1955 until 1959. He graduated from the Zagreb seminary high school. After finishing high school, Perić enrolled at the Faculty of Catholic Theology in Zagreb, where he studied philosophy from 1963 until 1965. After that, he enrolled at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, Italy, where he studied theology from 1965 until 1969. He received licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome with thesis "The Role of Cardinal Stepinac in Relations Between the Church and the State" in June 1969.
Perić became a deacon in Rome on 13 April 1969. He was ordained a presbyter on 29 June 1969 by Bishop Petar Čule in Prisoje, Duvno. Perić continued his education at the Pontifical Urban University and gained a PhD on 10 December 1971 with thesis "Meaning of Evangelisation in Perspective of Anonymous Christianity" under mentorship of Carlo Molari. He returned to Herzegovina, where he was a parson in Trebinje between 1971 and 1974. Simultaneously, he taught general history and the Greek language at the Humanist Gymnasium "Ruđer Bošković" in Dubrovnik from 1972 until 1974. After that, he lectured ecumenical theology at the Vrhbosna Theology Seminary in Sarajevo from 1974 until 2004 (with breaks). On 7 December 1979, Perić was named rector of the Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome in Rome. He later lectured ecumenical theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from 1989 until 1992; eastern theology at the Faculty of Catholic Theology in Zagreb from 1991 until 1992.
He was named Bishop Coadjutor of Mostar-Duvno on 29 May 1992. In 1993 he began to lecture ecclesiology and mariology at the Theological Institute in Mostar. Since the Mostar Cathedral was heavily damaged in the ongoing war, Bishop Perić's consecration took place in Križevo, Neum. He was consecrated by Cardhinal Franjo Kuharić, Archbishop of Zagreb, assisted by Archbishop Josip Uhač, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Pavao Žanić, bishop of Mostar-Duvno. The Vatican appreciated prelates' being knowledgeable about other faiths and ecumenical affair. For this reason, after Žanić's retirement, Perić succeeded him as Bishop of Mostar-Duvno on 24 July 1993. He is the permanent apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Trebinje-Mrkan.
In June 1975, in order to settle jurisdictional disputes between the Franciscan Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Diocese, Pope Paul VI issued a decree, Romanis Pontificibus, specifying which parishes the friars could retain and which were to be turned over to be administered by diocesan clergy. By 1980 the friars had still not relinquished ten named parishes. As coadjutor, Perić assisted Bishop Žanić in attempting to implement the decree. The parties were still working on full implementation as late as December 1998, when a joint statement was issued by the Most Revd. Archbishop Marcello Zago, OMI, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Franciscan Minister General, Brother Giacomo Bini, and Bishop Perić, which read in part, "The Holy See and the Order intend to keep informed regarding the progress of the transfer. Any friars who disobey should know that they incur the penalties envisaged in the laws of the Church and of the Order."
On 1 April 1995, Perić was kidnapped by Croatian militiamen of the HVO in Mostar after he tried to replace Franciscan monks with diocesan priests who are less nationalistic, bishop and his security are released after 8 hours. From 1998 until 2003, Perić suspended nine friars who refused to sign the Declaration, and acted in disobedience. Those were also expelled from Franciscan Order. In 2004 he forbade 24 friars to conduct pastoral duties for their refusal to sign the Declaration.
In 2003 Pope John Paul II asked the members of the General Chapter of the Franciscan Order to carry into effect the decision of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, going back to 1975.
According to Helen Walasek, Bishop Perić supported the actions of local authorities to "pursue their policy of cultural and ethnic exclusivism." Permits to rebuild the Čaršija Mosque were denied despite a warning from the OHR Senior High Deputy Representative. In 2001, Perić promoted the notion that the location was the site of an earlier Christian structure which required important archeological investigation.
Gorana Ognjenović identifies Perić as leading a group of Catholic priests who justified the demolition of mosques and called for Catholic churches to be built on the ruins. Personally handed in by Perić on 15 April 2015 to the President of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipović, at a meeting in Mostar Cathedral, the bishop referred to "the right of Serbs to have 'their own' entity when appealing for parts of Bosnia to be defined as [an ethnic Croat] region in which institutions, schools, cultural and public health bodies, and banks, would be governed by Croats … Josipovic received the memorandum and never expressed any opposition to its political contents."
Perić has the same stance towards the alleged Marian apparitions of Medjugorje as his predecessor Pavao Žanić. He considers the alleged apparitions to be false and referred to them as "religious show" and "spectaculum mundo". Perić wrote a personal letter declaring his position that nothing supernatural was occurring in Medjugorje (the third designation). In order not to mislead the faithful into believing that his statement was an official Church position, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that was presided over at the time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote in a letter to the bishop of Saint-Denis-de-La Réunion that "what Bishop Perić said in his letter … is and remains his personal opinion."
On February 27, 2017 Peric issued a statement saying: "Considering everything that this diocesan chancery has so far researched and studied, including the first seven days of alleged apparitions, we can say: there have been no apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje."