Rome- Evidence suggests bishop NOT ousted due to abuse
For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Today's Vatican’s announcement about the just-ousted Paraguay bishop “says nothing about the accused priest,” notes Grant Gallicho of Commonweal.
This is an important caution. The Paraguay bishop publicly called his archbishop gay and attacked Vatican officials on his website. And for all we know, the “apostolic visitation” may have turned up rampant financial misdeeds in his diocese.
So no one knows why the bishop has been removed. Maybe Francis wants to signal concern over abusive clerics. Or maybe not.
When Francis says “Who am I to judge?” most take him at his word and believe he genuinely wants us all to treat gays and lesbians more kindly.
So now, when he says the Ciudad del Este Bishop Ricardo Livieres Plano is being ousted “for the good of the unity of the church,” shouldn't we take Francis at his word again? Shouldn't we assume the bishop has been ousted because of the discord he creates among clerics, not because he imported and promoted a credibly accused abusive cleric?
And shouldn't we – for the sake of vulnerable kids, wounded victims and betrayed Catholics – err on the side of caution and not assume that suddenly the Vatican has and will take a harder line against bishops who endanger youngsters?
Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press writes this “marks the second time Francis has kicked out a conservative bishop for the sake of keeping peace among the faithful and unity among bishops.” (The other case: the “bling bishop” of Limburg, Germany “whose $43-million new residence complex caused an uproar among the faithful.”) So again, it's not prudent or wise to assume the Pope is really trying to protect children. It's safer and smarter to assume he's trying to protect unity.
Finally, in July, we publicly said “The Pope should fire Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano. Livieres deliberately promoted a credibly accused abuser who admitted sleeping with teens and allegedly molested several of them.”
We went on to say:
“Pope Francis should harshly and publicly explain and denounce Livieres' irresponsible actions (with Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity), instead of letting him 'save face' by yet-another vague and minimizing statement from a lower-level Vatican staffer.
“This piecemeal, reactive approach – gently disciplining egregious wrongdoers only when they're publicly exposed – won't cut it. For years Vatican officials have taken belated, grudging and lenient action against church officials when their wrongdoing has been so bad that it prompted international criticism. So this hand-slapping of one Paraguay bishop is inadequate. It is far from ground-breaking.”
“Covering up abuse and endangering kids is a cancer on the church. It requires severe surgery, not an occasional band-aid only applied under duress. Francis must publicly oust a number of complicit bishops and say why in no uncertain terms if he really wants to get other bishops to stop putting innocent children in harm's way.”
Here are earlier statements we've issued about the Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity case:
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)