A Vatican diplomat said Pope Benedict XVI has achieved a "cleansing of the episcopate" during his pontificate, saying he has removed from office two or three bishops a month, reports The Tablet.
Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, the apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, said: "This Pope has removed two or three bishops per month throughout the world because either the accounts in their dioceses were a mess or their discipline was a disaster," Archbishop Maury said.
The Spanish-born archbishop, speaking in Madrid, added: "There have been two or three instances in which they said no, and so the Pope simply removed them," he said.
The Catholic News Service reports that in the 18 days between announcing his resignation and leaving office, Pope Benedict XVI named 19 new bishops and accepted the resignations of seven others.
It was not a last-minute attempt to leave his seal on the church - he had named hundreds of bishops in eight years as pope - but was part of the normal practice for the end of a pontificate, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
"It's natural to dispatch things at the end of one period of governance to prepare for another's governance," he said.
Pope sacked 'two bishops a month' (Tablet)
Flurry of personnel appointments (CNS)