Transferred to new diocese, Austrian bishop faces questions
July 10, 2018
Bishop Alois Schwarz of Sankt-Pölten, Austria, has been sharply criticized by the administrator of the Gurk diocese, where he previously served.
Msgr. Engelbert Guggenberger, who had been vicar general under Bishop Schwarz, has announced that he hopes to “restore lost confidence in diocesan leadership,” and charged that the departed bishop ignored advice and improperly disbanded a diocesan financial council in Gurk. The administrator has undertaken a full investigation of diocesan finances, and dismissed from the diocesan staff a woman with whom Bishop Schwarz reportedly has a close relationship. Questions have also been raised about the bishop’s response to sex-abuse complaints.
Bishop Schwarz was named in May to head the Sankt-Pölten diocese: an unusual move, since the two dioceses are roughly equal in size. Shortly after being named temporary administrator of the diocese, Msgr. Guggenberger announced that the bishop had taken actions “contrary to the Church’s law on property.”
Ironically, in 2004 Bishop Schwarz himself called for the resignation of the bishop of Sankt-Pölten—the diocese to which he was appointed in May—after reports of sexual abuse in the seminary.
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