The modern plagues of Egypt have befallen the Slovenian branch of the Roman Catholic Church. It, too, was rocked by the paedophile scandals, just like sister branches near and far. Then followed the infamous financial crash of the Maribor diocese which revealed the gaping € 800-million hole in church coffers, by far the largest of any Roman Catholic diocese anywhere in the world. And that in a diocese with a flock of merely 100k sheep. And now two of the most senior Slovene clergy-men are accused of having fathered children.
Within a space of a couple of months, Slovenian Roman Catholic Church (RKC) shook all the way to its foundations. Seemingly out of the blue, former Archbishop (top-ranking cleric in Slovenia) Alojz Uran was ordered to completely retire from public life and leave Slovenia immediately. While no official explanation was given for expulsion of a very popular former Archbishop out of his homeland, it was soon speculated and later confirmed that claims of Uran having fathered a child are at the crux of the matter.
Uran responded first by heeding to orders from Vatican but was soon admitted to a hospital due to a worsening heart condition, prolonging his stay in the country. However, only a month or so later (mid-August), Delo daily, which broke the story on Uran, ran a bomb-shell of an article claiming, that a middle-aged German citizen of Slovenian descent claims that Cardinal Franc Rode was his father and publicly demanded a paternity test.
Now, if Uran story was huge, the Rode thing was a motherfucker-of-an-A-bomb–showed-up-your-ass-and-detonated type of story. You see, both Rode and Uran served as Slovenian Archbishops. Rode replaced the wildly popular Archbishop Alojzij Šuštar who lead RKC during the dying stages of socialism in Slovenia and into its first democratic years. Although very conservative, he was seen as a dove, someone who could be reasoned with. Enter Rode and the Church immediately became more aggressive. He regularly made headlines, promoting a rigidly conservative, high-visibility and very hardline political profile of the Church. In all honesty, he massively increased the political (and economic) clout of the RKC, culminating in a concordat between Slovenia and Vatican in 2004. But he also alienated the Church from the more moderate part of the flock. As a result, percent of Slovenes declaring themselves of Roman Catholic persuasion (not necessarily practising, but simply of faith) fell from 75% under Šuštar to 55% under Rode.
In 2004 and Rode was recalled to Rome to take over as Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in fact keeping tabs on various orders of the Church around the world. This he did with much gusto, which is something some of the more liberal nuns in the USA experienced first hand.
At any rate, Rode, who was made Cardinal by the new pope Benedict XVI shortly thereafter, was succeeded by Alojz Uran in Ljubljana. And this where the plot thickens. Under Uran, who always struck pengovsky as a Roman Catholic version of Friar Tuck, the flock began to swell again. But apparently Rode was none to happy to have been succeeded by a man with a down-to-earth-back-to-the-people agenda. Also, it was hinted lately, that Uran was opposing RKC’s financial excesses in general and the machinations of Maribor diocese in general. Without much success, but annoying quite a few people along the way. The straw, which seems to have broken the camel’s back, however, was Uran opposing using Church funds to pay for renovation of Goričane mansion, where Rode was planning to retire to after he bid goodbye to Vatican.
Thus a below-the-radar investigation was apparently initiated into Uran’s alleged fatherhood. While no names were named, the rumour mill went up to 11. Thus it was said that Uran apparently had a thing going in Šentvid area of Ljubljana and that everyone involved, including the kid, was pretty cool about it. Uran, for his part, denied ever having broken the vow of celibacy, but apparently bowed to Vatican. He was expected to be sent to Trieste, which – although just across the border in Italy – technically is outside Slovenia.
It was speculated early the whole thing is Rode’s payback for Uran being a pain in the ass. That the whole thing is a high-level semi-divine power play became apparent after one Peter Stelzer, 42, a German citizen of Slovenian descent publicly claimed that Franc Rode is his father. As with Uran, Delo daily had the exclusive, where the allegedly Cardinal’s long-lost son claimed that Rode, then a young vicar, knocked his mother up forty-two years ago and then left her, whereupon she, barely 18 years old, emigrated to Germany.
Rode’s reaction was most curious. He confirmed a relationship with Peter’s mother, but said that it was platonic and discontinued due to his heavenly call. As if… 😀 Additionally however, Rode hired a stellar lawyer, Nina Zidar Klemenčič, who – incidentally – also represented PM Janez Janša in various civil cases, including those tangential to the Patria Affair (which got its own twist today, by the way).
In the last few days the story got another twist, with Rode in principle agreeing to a paternity test which Peter S. demanded and said he’d have it done by the Ljubljana Institute of Forensic Medicine. However, Peter S. now says he wants the test done by a relevant German institution, citing concerns that religious persuasion of the head of Institute Jože Balažic would taint the process.
This will be fun to watch, although pengovsky would be very much surprised if the Rode – Stelzer paternity test came back positive, despite their seemingly strong physical resemblance. In fact, the only reason why this is mildly important to the general public is because the Church, from position of celibacy, takes it upon itself to approve or disprove of how other people’s intimate lives and family matters. Like it did in the Family Code debate. If either or both allegations turn out to be correct, this would be the final nail in the coffin of RKC’s credibility and morality.
Other than that, pengovsky doesn’t really care a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys if either Rode or Uran (or both of them) fooled around. Quite to the contrary. I’d rather have clergymen screw consensually than screw little children forcefully or screw unsuspecting shareholders and investors out of their money.
As the old folk-wisdom goes, why does the vicar have a housekeeper? Just in case.