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US says Portugal knew of deported cleric's past

Lawyers for Romanian Orthodox Archbishop Valerian Trifa said Portugal knew of his alleged past Nazi activities when they granted him an entry visa, US officials said Wednesday. The lawyers were responding to the Portuguese news agency Noticias de Portugal, which reported yesterday that Archbishop Trifa had applied about a year ago for permission to live in retirement in Portugal as a stateless person without mentioning US deportation proceedings against him or any criminal past.

After nine years of legal proceedings, the archbishop was stripped of his US citizenship and deported Monday for activities with the Iron Guard, a Fascist group responsible for the massacre of Jews in Romania during World War II. In the US, he was spiritual leader to about 35,000 members of the Romanian American Orthodox Church in Grass Lake, Mich.

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