In a Zagreb sports auditorium, brilliantly lit for photographers and 500 spectators, the show trial of Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac and twelve Catholic priests was rolling to a close. Charged by Marshal Tito with "crimes against the people" (TIME, Sept. 30), the 48-year-old head of the world's fifth largest Catholic diocese (1,800,000 members) temporarily lost his equanimity. He shook an angry finger at the court, cried: "Not only does the church in Yugoslavia have no freedom, but in a short while the church will be annihilated." He denied "forced conversion" of 230,000 Serbs to the Roman Catholic Church, during the war. Said he: "My conscience is clear. . . ."
As Stepinac left the witness stand after his 38-minute address, Bishop Joseph P. Hurley of Saint Augustine, Fla., representing Pope Pius XII at the trial, bowed before him; Catholics all over the world, recalling that a Soviet death sentence against Leningrad Archbishop John Cieplak in 1923 had been commuted under pressure of world opinion, were rallying to Stepinac's side. Summoned to Rome to coordinate protests were pink-cheeked, rosy Msgr. Angelo Roncalli of Paris; Lancashire-born Archbishop William Godfrey, apostolic delegate to Britain; Dutch national hero Cardinal de Jong. Commented Pope Pius: ". . . We have the right and the duty to reject such false accusations ... a very sad trial."