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Slovak archbishop’s removal remains contentious item

CWN - September 20, 2012

In Slovakia, a public controversy continues to swirl around the case of Archbishop Robert Bezak, who was removed the leadership of the Trvana archdiocese in July by Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Bezak remains popular in Slovakia, and the open discord between the deposed prelate and his predecessor, Archbishop Jan Sokol, has been the subject of a lively continuing discussion. Sandro Magister of L’Espresso tells the story.

When he became Archbishop of Trvana in 2009, after Archbishop Sokol retired at the age of 75, Archbishop Bezak quickly distanced himself from his predecessor, claiming that the archdiocese had been mismanaged and criticizing the chancery staff. Eventually he asked the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation or the archdiocese, to investigate the claims of fiscal irresponsibility and perhaps also the reports of collaboration with the old Communist regime.

However, the Vatican investigation uncovered evidence that Archbishop Bezak himself had mismanaged archdiocesan funds. Moreover, the apostolic visitation found that the new archbishop had shown a “blatant lack of observance of liturgical norms,” a cavalier disregard for Church teaching, and a reliance on priests who were openly engaged in sexual relationships. Thus the Vatican’s decision to remove him from his see.

While supporters of Archbishops Bezak and Sokol continue to bicker, and journalists in Slovakia question the management practices of both prelates, the post of Archbishop of Trvana remains unfilled.

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