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Questions over transfer of church lands

THE ARCHBISHOP of the Trnava diocese, Ján Sokol, transferred thirty square kilometres of land to a foundation of which he is the legal representative only four days after it was registered, the private TV channel JOJ reported on December 28, 2008. According to the ČTK newswire, the land is worth about €4 million (approximately Sk120 million). The donation agreement bears Sokol’s signature twice: both for the Catholic church as the donor and for the Fundatio Ecclesiae Sancti Ioanni Baptistae, as the receiving foundation. The transfer was arranged before the reform of the borders of the dioceses. Prior to the reform, the lands had belonged to the Nitra diocese but today they are under the Fundatio where Sokol is still on the board. According to JOJ, the transfer created sharp disagreement within the Catholic church.

THE ARCHBISHOP of the Trnava diocese, Ján Sokol, transferred thirty square kilometres of land to a foundation of which he is the legal representative only four days after it was registered, the private TV channel JOJ reported on December 28, 2008. According to the ČTK newswire, the land is worth about €4 million (approximately Sk120 million). The donation agreement bears Sokol’s signature twice: both for the Catholic church as the donor and for the Fundatio Ecclesiae Sancti Ioanni Baptistae, as the receiving foundation. The transfer was arranged before the reform of the borders of the dioceses. Prior to the reform, the lands had belonged to the Nitra diocese but today they are under the Fundatio where Sokol is still on the board. According to JOJ, the transfer created sharp disagreement within the Catholic church.

Responding to the news, the Office of the Archbishop informed ČTK that the land remains the property of the Church.

“The property of the foundation is administered not only under the laws of the Slovak republic but also under the rules of canonical law,” the economist of the Trnava Archdiocese, Peter Kučera, said as quoted by ČTK. He also said that the Fundatio is not Sokol’s private foundation, since its main legal representative is always the bishop of Trnava regardless of which individual holds the office.

In November Sokol requested permission from the Pope to leave office and a decision is expected this month, ČTK wrote. According to canonical law, bishops are supposed to retire at the age of 75. Sokol turned 75 in autumn last year.


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