A glance at GCatholic.com‘s list of episcopal appointments revealed something of an anomaly on 31 July last. In one day, both of Slovenia’s metropolitan archbishops, Anton Stres (pictured below at left) of Ljubljana and Marjan Turnšek (below at right) of Maribor, resigned from their sees. Neither had reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 yet (Stres is 70 and Turnšek only 58).
The official statement via the Vatican Information Service merely states the facts and cites canon 401 paragraph 2 of the Code of Canon Law. This paragraph states:
“A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”
So all we know now is that both archbishops have apparently become “less able” to perform their duties because of some “grave cause”.
Statements on the diocesan websites in question, however, shed more light on the matter (Archbishop Stres’s statement, Archbishop Turnšek’s statement). The Archdiocese of Maribor has been in financial dire straits and both the current ordinary (Turnšek) as its former auxiliary bishop and coadjutor archbishop (Stres) have been taken to task about it, although neither is responsible for causing the situation, as both emphasise in their statements. In late April, both archbishops say, Pope Francis had communicated to them the invitation to resign. Difficult as this is for the Church in Slovenia, this double forced resignation can be seen in the same light as the Holy Father’s efforts to clean up the Roman Curia and the financial household of the Vatican bank, for instance.
Bishops have their obligations and responsibilities and with this step Pope Francis shows that he is just as ready as Pope Benedict XVI was in asking them to take these responsibilities.
Archbishop Stres was auxiliary bishop of Maribor from 2000 to 2006, and Coadjutor Archbishop in 2009, before being appointed to Ljubljana. Archbishop Turnšek was Coadjutor Archbishop from 2009 to 2011 and ordinary of Maribor since February of 2011. Slovenia has six dioceses, of which Ljubljana and Maribor are Metropolitan Archdioceses. With the retirements, Pope Francis has appointed apostolic administrators until new archbishops are appointed. For Ljubljana this is Bishop Andrej Glavan of Novo Mesto, and for Maribor Bishop Stanislav Lipovšek of Celje. Both bishops will oversee current affairs in the archdioceses in addition to their duties in their own dioceses.
Photo credit:  Vid Gajšek