Hundreds of complaints lead to Vatican investigation

Hundreds of complaints about their bishop from parishioners in a Memphis diocese has led to an official Vatican investigation.

Last week, two archbishops were sent to Memphis on a three-day fact-finding mission.

The archbishops’ visit (called an “Apostolic Visitation),” involved them meeting with clergy and parishioners. They will develop a report of their findings and recommendations then send it to the Vatican.

The investigation is said to have been organised by the Apostolic Nuncio, who is the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Washington.

The subject of the investigation is Martin Holley, who was appointed as bishop to the diocese in August 2016. His reassignment of the majority of the active priests in the diocese’s 42 parishes by June 2017 is of particular interest to the investigation.

“You don’t move 74 percent of the priests in the first few months of your administration,” Rev. Jim Danner wrote in June 2017 to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio.

“Especially if they only have one year before retirement or only have under two years in their present assignment. This is unfair to the priests and their faithful service and the People of God in the Diocese.”

Protesting their priest’s reassignment, one parishioner explained during the priest’s two-year tenure, the parish was growing, “participation in masses and charitable ministries increased, donations to our debt went up exponentially, tithing was up and people were coming in from all other churches to hear his homilies.”

Many parishioners have left their home churches and moved to others, or just left. One parishioner says it seems as if there are about 25 percent fewer people at Mass.

“It’s sad that people have left because of the transfers of priests,” the parishioner says.

“I do believe many people don’t know the bishop. He is new. They haven’t given him a chance.”

Holley supporters say he is “a holy and thoughtful man.” Reassigning priests is normal and some of the transfers were overdue, they say.



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