Pope removes Opus Dei bishop to heal disunity

Pope Francis has sacked a Paraguayan bishop affiliated to Opus Dei in order to try to mend divisions in the Church in that nation.

On September 25, Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano of Ciudad del Este diocese was removed to preserve the “unity of both the bishops and of the faithful”, according to a Vatican statement.

“Serious pastoral concerns” were also cited.

Bishop Livieres had allowed a priest accused of abusing seminarians in other countries to minister in his diocese.

A Vatican spokesman denied these accusations were central to the bishop’s removal, but said this had been debated.

Bishop Livieries had appointed Argentina Fr Carlos Urrutigoity as vicar-general, despite his track record in the United States.

Scranton diocese in Pennsylvania posted a message to its website this year that that the priest “was identified as posing a serious threat to young people”.

Fr Urrutigoity was removed as vicar-general in Ciudad del Este in July, just before an apostolic visitation by Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril Castello.

Ordinations were suspended in the diocese after the visit.

The Vatican statement said the “onerous decision” to dismiss Bishop Livieres was made after a “careful examination” of the findings of a Vatican investigation conducted by the congregations for Bishops and for Clergy.

Several years ago, Bishop Livieres publicly accused Asuncion’s archbishop of being gay, setting off a public uproar.

After he became bishop in 2004, Bishop Livieres opened his own diocesan seminary in Ciudad del Este and shortened the formation period to four years.

On September 25, Bishop Livieres posted a letter to his diocesan website, stating that he opened this seminary to make up for the failings of the national seminary.

This raised the ire of his fellow bishops, Bishop Livieres wrote.

He claimed his removal came as a result of an ideological campaign by Paraguayan bishops in league with Vatican officials.

“The true problem of the church in Paraguay is the crisis of faith and moral life perpetuated by bad formation of clergy and the negligence of pastors,” he wrote.

Bishop Livieres also complained that he was never shown Cardinal Abril’s report, that the apostolic visitation was flawed and that he was not allowed to speak with Pope Francis on his situation.

He said all allegations of inappropriate conduct were false, but he would accept the Pope’s decision.


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