“Church to receive 37 millions euros from state: no sign of separation,“ headlines Pravda. The Pope's 1st July dismissal of the popular archbishop of Trnava, Róbert Bezák, has prompted a wave of protest and ignited debate over state funding for the church.

In 2012, the Slovak government will hand over 37 million euros to a range of religious organisations, of which 21 million have been earmarked for the Catholic Church, points out the Bratislava daily.

“It is a heavy burden for a country that has to keep a extremely close watch on spending,” remarks Pravda, which deplores the fact that no Slovak government has had the courage to tackle the question of the separation of church and state.

According to the Bratislava newspaper, controversy over the issue in the traditionally Catholic country has been fueled by the fact that Archbishop Bezák, who is known for his pro-liberal views, was dismissed following his revelation of serious irregularities in the books of the Archdiocese of Trnava during the time of his predecessor. Also, because church-state relations are high on the agenda in the neighbouring Czech Republic, where parliament is debating a bill to compensate churches for property confiscated during the communist era.