VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI fired a 52-year-old Slovak bishop for apparently mismanaging his diocese in a rare show of papal power over bishops that could have implications for U.S. sex abuse cases.
Usually when bishops run into trouble — either for alleged moral lapses or management problems — they are persuaded by the Vatican to resign. But Benedict has become increasingly willing to forcibly remove bishops who refuse to step down, sacking three others in the past year alone.
His willingness to do so raises questions about whether he would take the same measures against bishops who covered up for sexually abusive priests. So far he has not.
In the most notable case to date, Benedict fired Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, Australia, last year after he called for the church to consider ordaining women and married men. He also removed a Congolese bishop for management problems in his diocese and an Italian one in May for similar reasons.
On Monday, the Vatican said Benedict had “relieved from pastoral care” Bishop Robert Bezak of Trnava, Slovakia. No reason was given, but Ital...