Francis’ removal of bishop “totally unjust”

removal of bishop totally unjust

A Catholic bishop in Puerto Rico has described his removal from office by Pope Francis as “totally unjust.”

Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres, who has led the Diocese of Arecibo since 2010, said he had been asked to resign because he “had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico.”

The Vatican announced the decision to remove Torres from the office without providing an explanation.

The Vatican’s brief announcement added only that the pope had asked 79-year-old Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río, retired head of the neighbouring Diocese of Mayagüez, to serve as apostolic administrator.

Bishop Fernández, in a statement posted on the diocesan website March 9, said, “I feel blessed to suffer persecution and slander for proclaiming the truth.”

In the statement, Fernández told the faithful of the diocese “It is not for me to explain to you a decision that I cannot explain to myself. Although I accept it with the patience of Christ for the good of the church.

“No process has been made against me, nor have I been formally accused of anything. Simply one day, the apostolic delegate [the pope’s representative in Puerto Rico] verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign.

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest.

“It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese, I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position. This offer in fact proves my innocence.

“However, I did not resign because I did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action and that even now I am reluctant to think that it could happen in our Church.”

Bishop Fernández has long defended the traditional family and its values, but his views have often conflicted with other leaders in the Church.

Fernández publicly distanced himself from the position of the president of the Puerto Rican bishops’ conference when he opposed a bill that would have banned “conversion therapy” for homosexuals.

Recently, he has gained publicity for his support of people who conscientiously objected to the COVID-19 vaccine. This is despite the Puerto Rican government requiring many people in healthcare and the public sector to be vaccinated.

Bishop Fernández’ statement concluded that he reaffirmed “my communion in the Catholic faith, with the pope and with my brothers in the episcopate. All this despite my perplexity in the face of an incomprehensible arbitrariness.”


National Catholic Reporter

Catholic News Agency

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