Bishop’s dealings with ‘playboy’ priests being investigated

Pope Francis has ordered an inquiry into an Italian bishop after scandalous behaviour by some of the priests in his diocese.

Albenga-Imperia diocese in northern Italy has been seen as hosting a number of so-called “playboy priests”, who frequently broke the law.

An apostolic visitor will assess the capability of Bishop Mario Oliveri, 70, who has been in charge of the diocese for 25 years.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, told The Tablet that the diocese “may be expecting an apostolic visitator”, but would not disclose any further details.

An independent investigator has already been called in to Albenga-Imperia.

The various scandals include one priest having been convicted for child abuse, after he was strenuously defended by Bishop Oliveri.

Another priest allegedly had an affair with a parishioner, and one was allegedly caught posting naked photos of himself on a gay website.

Yet another priest is accused of defrauding parishioners.

The bishop is alleged to have welcomed aspiring priests into the seminary without discernment.

Aspirants he accepted included former models, priests with tattoos, bodybuilders and others who had been expelled from the seminary.

The decision to order an investigation follows an inquiry by the papal nuncio Adriano Bernardini.

He was sent in after Pope Francis was warned about the diocese, La Repubblica reported.

A local doctor handed Pope Francis a dossier of complaints from parishioners earlier this year, the Italian newspaper added.

The bishop did not respond to requests for comment, saying it was not the “right time”.

The investigator is expected to be Alberto Maria Careggio, 77, former bishop of Sanremo-Ventimiglia.

He is a former mountain guide to St John Paul II, according to rumours in Rome.


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