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Pope removes Sicilian bishop from diocesan leadership

CWN - May 21, 2012

Bishop Francis Micciche of Trapani has been removed from office by Pope Benedict XVI, after an investigation triggered by reports of financial irregularities in the Sicilian diocese.

The Vatican announced on May 21 that the Pontiff has "removed Bishop Francesco Micciche from the pastoral care of the diocese of Trapani, Italy, and appointed Archbishop emeritus Alessandro Plotti of Pisa, Italy, as apostolic administrator." The official announcement provided no further details. However, Bishop Micciche had been the focus of an apostolic visitation last year, after local prosecutors uncovered missing funds in accounts managed by the Trapani diocese.'

Bishop Micciche told the faithful of Trapani that he would accept the Pope's decision, but insisted that the complaints against his leadership are "certainly false." The bishop said that his removal came "as a bolt from the blue," and said that he thought all questions about his financial affairs had been resolved. He complained that he had not been given an opportunity to see the results of the apostolic visitation of his diocese.

In a lengthy statement, Bishop Micciche said that he had been the victim of an "avalanche of slander." He suggested that a conspiracy may have been organized against him because he had dared the criticize the power of the Mafia and Masons in Sicily.

The removal of Bishop Micciche comes just over a year after Pope Benedict took a similar step, ousting Australian Bishop William Morris from his post heading the Toowoomba diocese. The Pope took action after Bishop Morris refused several Vatican requests for his resignation, prompted by concerns about his public statements on controversial questions such as the ordination of women and about his administration of the diocese.

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