The Vatican has suspended ordinations to the priesthood in Ciudad del Este diocese in Paraguay after an apostolic visitation by a senior cardinal.
No public announcement has been made about the reason for the suspension, but it will remain in place until Pope Francis resolves difficulties in the diocese.
The Vatican ordered an investigation following revelations that a priest who is accused of sexual abuse in the United States was serving as vicar-general in Ciudad del Este.
However, diocesan leader Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano has defended Fr Carlos Urrotigoity in the past, saying that the charges against him are unproven.
Fr Urrotigoity, an Argentine priest, worked in the US more than a decade ago.
Earlier this year a statement from Scranton diocese in Pensylvania said that Bishop Livieres had been warned that the priest posed “a serious threat to young people” and cautioned him “to not allow Fr Urrutigoity to incardinate into his diocese”.
Fr Urrutigoity was reportedly removed from his post as vicar general in Ciudad del Este earlier this month, at the request of the apostolic nuncio in Paraguay.
But he reportedly remains an active priest in Paraguay.
The revelations brought to a head tensions between Bishop Livieres and other bishops in Paraguay.
There were also complaints from lay activists about alleged irregularities in diocesan affairs.
Defenders of Bishop Livieres have argued that the complaints against him have been fuelled by liberal ideology.
They note that Bishop Livieres, a harsh critic of liberation theology and a strong supporter of traditional liturgy, has led a strong revival of the faith in the diocese, pointing to increases in the numbers of priests, church weddings, and Baptisms.
The investigation in Ciudad del Este was led by Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, who is president of the commission of cardinals that oversees the Vatican Bank (Institute for the Works of Religion).
He was joined in the investigation by Bishop Milton Troccoli, the auxiliary bishop of Montevideo, Uruguay.
As he prepared to return to Rome, Cardinal Abril y Castello urged the faithful in Paraguay to respect the Vatican’s decision and await further announcements.
Bishop Livieres said that he would obey directives from Rome, while insisting that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
News category: World.