“Pope removes conservative bishop after complaints about protecting priest opening seminary” & related articles

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The Vancouver Sun

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press September 25, 2014 9:17 PM
VATICAN CITY ― Pope Francis on Thursday forcibly removed a conservative Paraguayan bishop who had clashed with his fellow bishops on ideological grounds and promoted a priest accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The removal of Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, marks the second time Francis has kicked out a conservative bishop for the sake of keeping peace among the faithful and unity among bishops.

In March, he ousted the “bling bishop” of Limburg, Germany, whose 31-million-euro ($43-million) new residence complex caused an uproar among

the faithful.

Livieres was named bishop of Paraguay’s second city, Ciudad del Este, in 2004 and immediately disturbed other more progressive Paraguayan bishops by opening his own seminary that followed a much more orthodox line than the main seminary in the capital, Asuncion. Paraguay’s bishops are known for their progressive bent in a poor country where liberation theology found fertile ground.

Relations between Livieres and the rest of Paraguay’s bishops worsened when he got into a public spat with the then-archbishop of Asuncion, whom he accused of being gay.

Livieres also infuriated advocates for victims of sexual abuse by taking in and promoting an Argentine priest, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, whose former superior in the U.S. had said was a “serious threat to young people.”

In 2002, Urrutigoity along with another priest, Eric Ensey, were suspended by the bishop in the diocese of Scranton, Pa. Urrutigoity later settled in Paraguay.

Urrutigoity and Ensey had ties to the Vancouver parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Shaughnessy. Parishioners there raised so much money for a seminary in Paraguay that in May 2011, its rector Dominic Carey told them during a visit to Vancouver that without their generous donations, the seminary would likely not exist.

Ensey visited Vancouver on a few occasions. He received considerable financial support from the Vancouver parish over the three-year period that he was forbidden from working as a priest and, on at least one occasion, was the travelling companion of Father John Horgan.

After the allegations of sexual impropriety by Urrutigoity and Ensey was reported, Horgan was forbidden from any further fundraising for the seminary, its priests and the orphanage. (Horgan has since been transferred to a parish in North Vancouver.)

Urrutigoity has denied allegations of sexual impropriety, has never been charged and hasn’t been accused of sexually abusing minors. In 2004, though, the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, settled a lawsuit against him, another priest and the diocese for $400,000. The suit had alleged the two men engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct, the Global Post has reported.

Earlier this year, the Vatican sent a cardinal to investigate problems in Livieres’ diocese, particularly concerning the seminary. The investigator reported back to Francis, and Livieres was summoned to Rome this week to discuss his future.

Colleagues say he refused Vatican requests to resign, leaving Francis with what the Vatican said was the “onerous” decision to remove him. The Vatican said in a statement Thursday that Francis acted for the good of the church in the diocese and for the sake of unity among Paraguayan bishops.

He named Bishop Ricardo Jorge Valenzuela Rios, a Paraguayan, to temporarily replace Livieres.

There was no reference in the Vatican statement that Livieres’ removal had anything to do with Urrutigoity. Rather, the Vatican spoke of the need to maintain unity among Paraguay’s bishops, suggesting that political and ideological issues were of far greater concern to Rome and that Urrutigoity’s past was a secondary factor.

As a result, the removal underscored the deep ideological shift in the Catholic Church with Francis in charge. Vatican watchers say it is highly unlikely that Pope Benedict XVI would have removed either Livieres or the “bling bishop,” since both had strong supporters among the more conservative prelates in Rome who appreciated their firm orthodoxy in the face of opposition from more progressive parts of the church.

In a letter late Thursday to the head of the Vatican office for bishops, Livieres complained that he had never received the written report from the Vatican investigation and was never asked to respond to any of its findings.

He called the decision to remove him “unfounded and arbitrary” and based purely on ideological grounds, with the decks stacked against him from the start by fellow bishops jealous that his seminary was attracting new priests while theirs in Asuncion withered.

He even took a slight dig at Francis, complaining that while there is much talk under Francis about mercy, dialogue, decentralization of the church and respect for the authority of local church leaders, “I never got the chance to speak to Pope Francis, not even to clarify any doubts or concerns.”

Urrutigoity had been a member of the schismatic, traditionalist Society of St. Pius X. After leaving the society, he joined the Scranton diocese, where he founded a priestly society where the pre-Vatican II old Latin Mass was celebrated. In 2004, Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino suppressed the society, citing financial instability and allegations of sexual misconduct against Urrutigoity.

Despite Martino’s warnings, Livieres in 2005 allowed Urrutigoity to join his diocese in Paraguay’s second-largest city.

Urrutigoity’s supporters say he is the victim of a smear campaign, first in the United States and now by Paraguayan prelates who have an ideological axe to grind with Livieres. Advocates for sex abuse victims say Urrutigoity is a predator and that Livieres deserved to be punished for ignoring warnings about him.

Francis has made clear his disdain for traditionalist Catholics, finding them self-absorbed retrogrades who are out of touch with the church’s evangelizing mission today. His emphasis on a “church for the poor” is also something of a different focus than Opus Dei, which has a reputation of being an elitist movement that, while active in charity, attracts the wealthy and powerful.

The removal is a blow to Opus Dei, which on Saturday will be celebrating the beatification of its late superior in Madrid.

With files from the Vancouver Sun

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Pope Removes Divisive Bishop in Paraguay

Pope Francis on Thursday forcibly removed a conservative Paraguayan bishop who had clashed with his fellow bishops on ideological grounds and promoted a priest accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The removal of Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, marks the second time Francis has kicked out a conservative bishop for the sake of keeping peace among the faithful and unity among bishops.

In March, he ousted the “bling bishop” of Limburg, Germany, whose 31-million-euro ($43-million) new residence complex caused an uproar among the faithful.

Livieres was named bishop of Paraguay’s second city, Ciudad del Este, in 2004 and immediately disturbed other more progressive Paraguayan bishops by opening his own seminary that followed a much more orthodox line than the main seminary in the capital, Asuncion. Paraguay’s bishops are known for their progressive bent in a poor country where liberation theology found fertile ground.

Relations between Livieres and the rest of Paraguay’s bishops worsened when he got into a public spat with the then-archbishop of Asuncion, whom he accused of being gay.

Livieres also infuriated advocates for victims of sexual abuse by taking in and promoting an Argentine priest, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, whose former superior in the U.S. had said was a “serious threat to young people.”

Urrutigoity has denied allegations of sexual impropriety, has never been charged and hasn’t been accused of sexually abusing minors. In 2004, though, the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, settled a lawsuit against him, another priest and the diocese for $400,000. The suit had alleged the two men engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct, the Global Post has reported.

Earlier this year, the Vatican sent a cardinal to investigate problems in Livieres’ diocese, particularly concerning the seminary. The investigator reported back to Francis, and Livieres was summoned to Rome this week to discuss his future.

Colleagues say he refused Vatican requests to resign, leaving Francis with what the Vatican said was the “onerous” decision to remove him. The Vatican said in a statement Thursday that Francis acted for the good of the church in the diocese and for the sake of unity among Paraguayan bishops.

He named Bishop Ricardo Jorge Valenzuela Ríos, a Paraguayan, to temporarily replace Livieres.

There was no reference in the Vatican statement that Livieres’ removal had anything to do with Urrutigoity. Rather, the Vatican spoke of the need to maintain unity among Paraguay’s bishops, suggesting that political and ideological issues were of far greater concern to Rome and that Urrutigoity’s past was a secondary factor.

As a result, the removal underscored the deep ideological shift in the Catholic Church with Francis in charge. Vatican watchers say it is highly unlikely that Pope Benedict XVI would have removed either Livieres or the “bling bishop,” since both had strong supporters among the more conservative prelates in Rome who appreciated their firm orthodoxy in the face of opposition from more progressive parts of the church.

In a letter late Thursday to the head of the Vatican office for bishops, Livieres complained that he had never received the written report from the Vatican investigation and was never asked to respond to any of its findings.

He called the decision to remove him “unfounded and arbitrary” and based purely on ideological grounds, with the decks stacked against him from the start by fellow bishops jealous that his seminary was attracting new priests while theirs in Asuncion withered.

He even took a slight dig at Francis, complaining that while there is much talk under Francis about mercy, dialogue, decentralization of the church and respect for the authority of local church leaders, “I never got the chance to speak to Pope Francis, not even to clarify any doubts or concerns.”

Urrutigoity had been a member of the schismatic, traditionalist Society of St. Pius X. After leaving the society, he joined the Scranton diocese, where he founded a priestly society where the pre-Vatican II old Latin Mass was celebrated. In 2004, Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino suppressed the society, citing financial instability and allegations of sexual misconduct against Urrutigoity.

Despite Martino’s warnings, Livieres in 2005 allowed Urrutigoity to join his diocese in Paraguay’s second-largest city.

Urrutigoity’s supporters say he is the victim of a smear campaign, first in the United States and now by Paraguayan prelates who have an ideological axe to grind with Livieres. Advocates for sex abuse victims say Urrutigoity is a predator and that Livieres deserved to be punished for ignoring warnings about him.

Francis has made clear his disdain for traditionalist Catholics, finding them self-absorbed retrogrades who are out of touch with the church’s evangelizing mission today. His emphasis on a “church for the poor” is also something of a different focus than Opus Dei, which has a reputation of being an elitist movement that, while active in charity, attracts the wealthy and powerful.

The removal is a blow to Opus Dei, which on Saturday will be celebrating the beatification of its late superior in Madrid.

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Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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Photo

Bishop Livieres Credit Abc Raul Gonzalez/Associated Press
 

ROME — In another sign of his willingness to exert discipline in the church hierarchy, Pope Francis removed a conservative bishop in Paraguay on Thursday who was seen as a renegade by his fellow bishops and had sheltered a priest accused of molesting seminarians in several countries.

Pope Francis decided to dismiss the bishop, Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, to preserve the “unity of both the bishops and of the faithful” and “under the weight of serious pastoral concerns,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The Vatican spokesman said the reasons had more to do with the bishop’s clashes with his colleagues than with his role in protecting the accused priest. The Vatican sent a delegation to Paraguay in July to report back.

“The important problem was the relations within the episcopacy and in the local church, which were very difficult,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, adding that the bishop was in Rome this week to discuss the conclusions of the report with his superiors.

Father Lombardi said the accusations of sexual misconduct against the priest, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, an Argentine who had worked for years in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, were “not central, albeit have been debated.”

Bishop Livieres had promoted Father Urrutigoity to be his vicar-general — a position that often includes responsibility for handling accusations of clergy sexual abuse in a diocese — despite warnings to him from the former bishop of Scranton, Pa., Joseph Martino, who called Father Urrutigoity “a serious threat to young people.”

Bishop Livieres, a member of the conservative Roman Catholic movement Opus Dei, had been in disputes for years with theologically liberal priests and bishops in Paraguay. Soon after becoming bishop in 2004, he opened his own diocesan seminary in Ciudad del Este, marked by a more orthodox style than the main seminary in Paraguay’s capital, Asunción.

He publicly accused Asunción’s archbishop at the time of being gay, setting off an uproar.

In July, after the investigation, Bishop Livieres was barred from ordaining new priests, an unusual step, and Father Urrutigoity was removed as vicar-general.

Bishop Livieres posted a long rebuttal to the Vatican on his diocesan website. It asserted that Father Urrutigoity was the target of a defamation campaign and that he had been recommended by cardinals in the Vatican, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.

Father Urrutigoity, who began his priesthood in the schismatic Society of St. Pius X, was accused of molesting sleeping seminarians in Argentina and Pennsylvania, according to news reports, including a four-part series this summer in the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal. The Diocese of Scranton settled a lawsuit in 2004 against Father Urrutigoity, another priest and the diocese for $400,000.

Some observers read Francis’ decision as another step in cracking down on clergy sexual abuse, coming only two days after the arrest of Jozef Wesolowski, a former archbishop and Vatican ambassador accused of sexually abusing boys while he served in the Dominican Republic.

“This is another sign of Francis’ extraordinary governing skills and courage,” said Carlo Marroni, a Vatican expert with the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, “in line with his will to clean up house and renew the church.”

Francis named Bishop Ricardo Jorge Valenzuela Ríos, a Paraguayan, temporary apostolic administrator of the diocese until a new bishop is appointed, the Vatican said.

2 Responses to “Pope removes conservative bishop after complaints about protecting priest opening seminary” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    That’s a little good news. The Bishop who offered safe haven for clerical sexual predator Father Carlos Urrutigoity is gone. BUT, – what about Urrutigoity? Not boo. Perhaps there’s a sequel to the breaking news?

    Surely there must be?

    This all makes about as much sense to me right now as referring to Bishop Lievres as conservative.

  2. harry p says:

    We have Brother Lawrence the Canadian self confessed child molester from the Brothers of Christian Instruction in Japan. He has not been removed from his order.

    Despite molesting perhaps hundreds of boys at the prestigious he was permitted by his superior Brother Gabriel in Quebec to leave Japan and escape justice.

    He is now apparently living in a school, the College Jean de la Mennais in LaPrairie a suburb of Montreal, on the banks of the St Lawrence River no doubt having a whiskey as he watches the sun set. However it gets worse, he can sit on his deck and go window shopping for children playing at the school with his fellow Brother molester from St Marys International School in Tokyo Brother John Paradis. Those poor children.

    Shame on the superior Brother Gabriel for not removing them from the Order. When we talk about something being “unchristian” we need look no further than the Mennais.

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