Zagreb: A Croatian priest has run off with almost one million euros ($1.3 million) after illegally selling church property, officials said on Tuesday, amid media reports the Catholic clergyman had fled with a married woman.
Franciscan priest Sime Nimac earlier this year signed a deal with a local firm to sell a plot of church land, the Split archdiocese said in statement.
Nimac, 34, the former parish priest of Baska Voda on the southern Adriatic coast, in May withdrew more than 980,000 euros in cash from the parish's account "without a valid explanation why the money was taken and what it will be used for," the archdiocese added.
Local media have reported that the priest, described as a handsome aficionado of expensive clothes and luxury goods, had fled the country with a young woman who is a married employee of the bank from which the cash was withdrawn.
The property had been sold without church authorities' written approval, and the Franciscans have filed a suit to annul the deal.
According to media reports, Nimac had recently demanded to be defrocked.
Nearly 90 per cent of Croatia's 4.2 million population are Roman Catholics.