A letter written by former Auxiliary Bishop of Ayacucho, Gabino Miranda is shedding some light on the reasons for his recent removal. Miranda, who was dismissed from his post as auxiliary bishop in the Peruvian city of Ayacucho, has been accused of sexually abusing children. Miranda denies any criminal activity.
At this time, not much is known about the exact nature of the allegations, but a Peruvian church official confirmed to the press that Miranda’s removal was a result of new Pope Francis’s “zero tolerance” policy for sex offenders.
However, a newly revealed letter written by Miranda to church officials in Rome has provided some insight into the case. According to Peru21, the July 1 letter was sent as part of Miranda’s effort to appeal the Vatican’s decision to remove him from his post. In it, Miranda writes “I recognize that in some circumstances I have been imprudent […] but furthermore, I reiterate that in the conscience and presence of God, the supposed offenses cannot be characterized as crimes against the [sixth commandment].” The sixth commandment prohibits sexual activity outside of the bounds of marriage.
As Peru21 reports, Miranda clearly felt that his punishment was unjust. “I’m surprised by the disproportionate sanctions in the [decree], which certainly do not have just cause.” Miranda also claimed that he did not know the “origin of the accusers, the jurisdiction, and the time in which the supposed crimes were committed.”
Authorities in Ayacucho have opened an official investigation into the matter.
Gabino Miranda, auxiliary bishop in Ayacucho, Peru, has been removed from his post after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused children. Little is known at this point about the nature or number of the accusations, but church officials have confirmed to the press that Miranda’s dismissal was the result of allegations of sex abuse.
Bishop Emeritus of Chimbote Luis Bambarén told RPP Noticias that the swift action by church authorities can be credited to Pope Francis strict policies on sex abuse scandals: “It’s what the pope said— zero tolerance […] Those are very serious crimes, especially when it has to do with a bishop.”
Though early reports indicated that Miranda was a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic order Opus Dei (made famous by Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code”), the organization denies official involvement with Miranda. In a statement to Reuters, Opus Dei said that Miranda had benefited from “spiritual assistance” from a related organization, but stated definitively that “Gabino Miranda has never been incardinated in the clergy of Prelature of Opus Dei.” The statement added that Miranda “denies any crime related to minors.”
Andina news agency reports that that legal authorities in Ayacucho have opened a formal investigation into the matter. According to RPP, Miranda, 53, was known for performing mass in Quechua.
Peruvian aux. bishop removed for sex abuse
National Catholic Reporter
21 September 2013
In Peru, local media learned of Miranda’s dismissal and asked church officials for comments Sept. 20. The officials confirmed the dismissal but would not say when it happened or why. Later local prosecutors said they were investigating Miranda.
A retired bishop, Luis Bambaren, a former president of Peru’s bishops’ conference, final revealed to local media that Miranda’s dismissal was because of sex abuse of minors.
“It is what the Pope said – zero tolerance,” Bambaren told a local radio station. “Those are very serious crimes, especially when it has to do with a bishop.”
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In the Dominican Republic, the Aug. 21 recall of papal nuncio, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, was not announced by the Vatican or local church authorities until some two weeks after he was gone when the nation’s attorney general said he would investigate claims of sexual abuse against the nuncio.
Miranda is incommunicado, but Opus Dei in Peru said that Miranda has denied the abuse allegations.
Miranda is not an Opus Dei member, but he has received “spiritual assistance” from an organization closely linked to Opus Dei – the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.
Vatican removes deputy bishop in Peru after sex abuse allegations
(Reuters) – The Vatican, under Pope Francis’ “zero-tolerance” policy for pedophile priests, removed an auxiliary bishop from his post in a Peruvian province because of allegations he sexually abused children, a bishop said on Friday.
Luis Bambaren, the former president of Peru’s bishops’ conference and bishop emeritus of Chimbote, told local media that Gabino Miranda was dismissed as auxiliary bishop in the dioceses of Ayacucho, a poor Andean region in southern Peru, after he was accused of having sexual relations with minors.
“It is what the Pope said – zero tolerance,” Bambaren said on RPP radio. “Those are very serious crimes, especially when it has to do with a bishop.”
A Church official confirmed to Reuters that Miranda, 53, had resigned from Peru’s bishops’ conference but declined to say why.
The attorney general’s office said on Friday that it was investigating Miranda and would announce actions soon.
Reuters was not able to reach Miranda for comment, but conservative Catholic group Opus Dei said that Miranda has denied the abuse allegations.
“He denies any crime related to minors,” Opus Dei in Peru said in a statement on Friday.
The group said that while Miranda had received “spiritual assistance” from an organization closely linked to Opus Dei – the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross – Miranda is not a member of Opus Dei.
“Gabino Miranda has never been incardinated in the clergy of Prelature of Opus Dei,” the statement said.
Shortly after becoming pope in March, Francis directed the Vatican to act quickly when clergymen are suspected of sexually abusing children, and vowed to punish pedophiles in the Church.
Francis has set a new tone in a Church beset by scandals with his informal style and emphasis on helping the poor instead of criticizing homosexuality, contraception and abortion.
In a dramatically blunt interview published on Thursday by an Italian Jesuit journal, Francis said the Church had “locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules” and should not be so prone to condemn.
Local media reported that last week Francis met with Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez, considered a key founder of the liberation theology movement popular in the 1970s that urged clergy to take active roles in improving the lot of the poor.
(Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino)