Pope Francis sacks Paraguayan bishop accused of protecting abuser priest
VATICAN: Pope Francis has dismissed a conservative
Paraguayan bishop who was accused of protecting a priest suspected of sexually
abusing young people in the United States, the Vatican said on Thursday.
The Argentinean-born pontiff has vowed zero tolerance
against Roman Catholic clerics who sexually abuse minors after a series of
scandals hit the Church in a number of countries over many years. Last May,
Francis called such abuse an ‘ugly crime’ and likened it to ‘a satanic mass.’
A statement said the pope had removed Bishop Rogelio
Ricardo Livieres Plano from his post as head of the diocese of Ciudad del Este
and named another bishop to run it as an administrator for the time being.
The sacking followed a Vatican investigation of the
bishop, the diocese and its seminaries, said the statement, which gave no
details. Vatican sources said the bishop had refused to resign after the
investigation of the accusations and reports of irregularities in his diocese.
According to reports in Catholic media while the
Vatican investigation was in progress, Livieres Plano had promoted a priest in
his diocese who had been accused of sexual abuse while serving in the United
A US bishop had told Paraguayan Church officials that
the priest, an Argentinian national who had been promoted to a senior position
in the Paraguayan diocese by Livieres Plano, was a “serious threat to young
people”, according to the reports.
Livieres Plano had defended both himself and the
priest, saying the charges against them were unfounded, Catholic media have
The dismissed bishop, a member of the conservative
Roman Catholic group Opus Dei, had become a polarising figure in the Paraguayan
Church and often clashed with more progressive clerics, according to the
The Vatican said Pope Francis had taken the “onerous
decision” to remove Livieres Plano after careful examination of the results of
the Vatican investigation. He has previously said bishops who covered up abuse
would be held accountable.
SNAP, a US-based victims' group which has often
demanded that the Vatican discipline bishops suspected of covering up abuse,
said it was ‘encouraged’ by the move, saying Livieres Plano had “protected and
promoted a credibly accused sex offender cleric.”
But it urged its members to continue putting pressure
on the Church to do more. “One move involving one bishop doesn’t herald some
magical new era in which we can passively sit back and assume that more
irresponsible Church officials will be disciplined,” SNAP said in a statement.
The dismissal of the
Paraguayan bishop came two days after the pope approved the arrest in the
Vatican of a former archbishop accused of paying for sex with children while he
was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic. (Reuters)