Based on his last will, the deceased Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Banská Bystrica, Rudolf Baláž, was buried on August 3 at a graveyard in his native village of Nevolné. Bishop Baláž wished to be buried next to the grave of the pastor who served in Nevolné when he was young, the SITA newswire wrote.
The bishop died on July 27, 2011 at age 70. Over 300 bishops attended the funeral and were joined by representatives of the state and municipalities. Baláž was born in 1940, and after his studies he served in several parishes until 1971, when he lost consent of the socialist state needed to exercise religious offices. He then worked as a tractor operator and later as truck driver for over ten years.
He became bishop in 1990 and served as head of Slovakia's Bishops Conference from 1994 to 2000. During the government of Vladimír Mečiar in the early 1990s, as head of the Bishops’ Conference, Baláž criticised some undemocratic practices of the government that were starting to develop. In order to undermine his position, Slovakia’s intelligence service, the SIS led by Ivan Lexa, plotted to discredit Baláž and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole.
When the Bishop's Office in Banská Bystrica attempted to sell a medieval Flemish painting "Worshipping of Three Magi" in 1995 in order to pay its debts, a SIS agent bought the painting and accused the Bishop's Office of abuse of ownership. Although the case was widely publicised, all suits were later dismissed.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
4. Aug 2011 at 14:00