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Charges of financial irregularities raise new questions about Slovakian prelate's removal

Catholic World News - July 13, 2012

As a public prosecutor in Slovakia opened an investigation of financial dealings in the Trvana archdiocese, supporters of ousted Archbishop Robert Bezak claimed that the probe was triggered by improprieties that took place before Archbishop Bezak took office.

The Vatican announced on July 2 that Archbishop Bezak had been removed from office by Pope Benedict XVI. No investigation was given for the unusual move, but the Slovakian bishops’ conference pointed out that the Vatican had authorized an apostolic investigation of the archdiocese earlier this year.

Informed sources in Slovakia report that Archbishop Bezak had frequently been at loggerheads with his predecessor, Archbishop Jan Sokol. Supporters of Archbishop Bezak note that an audit authorized by the new archbishop triggered the criminal investigation that is now taking place, and suggest that any financial irregularities were the fault of Archbishop Sokol.

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter makes the point that if the allegations against Archbishop Sokol are true, the entire affair could be a grave embarrassment to the Vatican. Allen takes care to say that he is not able to determine whether the complaints are accurate. But he suggests that, in order to ward off a potential public-relations debacle, the Vatican should “supply a convincing explanation for Bezák's removal.”

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