Excellent! September 26, 2014

Francis tightens the screws on abusers and the bishops who assist them.

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  • Alex Sferra

    Amen! Love me some Francis!

  • Thinkling

    And like atomic clockwork, bunch of misguided masses try to contort that the REAL reason Francis did this is because the perp liked the Latin Mass. Or incense. Or something.

    • WesleyD

      It is true that Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano was a fan of the traditional Mass, and considered the other bishops soft on communism and much too liberal. (There are only a dozen or so bishops in all of Uruguay.) But if Bishop Livieres honestly believed Fr. Urrutigoity to be innocent of sexual abuse, it seems to me that it could only be because he was blinded by his ideology.

      Fr. Urrutigoity was expelled from the SSPX for making sexual advances and forming a small group of folks utterly devoted to him. Eventually they returned to full communion with the Catholic Church and were given their own traditional Mass community in Pennsylvania by the diocese there; in that setting Urrutigoity continued his abuse and other strange practices. (Perhaps the SSPX schism is one reason that the local diocese ignored the warnings that the SSPX leaders sent them?) In any event, by the time he moved to Paraguay and was taken in by Bishop Livieres, his record was clear.

      So the best case that could be made for Livieres is that he was so devoted to his ideology that he simply refused to consider that anyone who shared it could be guity of such deeds. Therefore, it follows that the priest’s accusers must be part of some liberal cabal.

      I salute many of the good things that Bishop Livieres did; the fact that vocations boomed in his diocese after his reforms suggests that the rest of the Church in Paraguay is far from perfect. But if he was such an ideologue that he ignored the repeated warnings about Urrutiogoity (the diocesan website still proclaims the priest’s innocence), then it’s good he was removed. On the other hand, if he knew or suspected that the charges were true, then it’s even more good that he was removed.

    • chezami

      What would Traddery be without butthurt narcissism?

      • Thinkling

        Actually, most of what I was referring to was actually anti-traditional schadenfreude. NYT, CommonFeel, etc. Minimal discussion of abuse.

        I am seeing analogous bashing of anti-traditionals in the context of the resignation of the bishop of Brighton, UK. His story isn’t quite clear yet. But some commentary is over the top.

        What is it about the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians that these two sects of people don’t understand?

  • Athelstane

    Phil Lawler writes in the story at the link:

    By removing him, Pope Francis has demonstrated a real “zero tolerance” policy. The message from Rome is loud and clear: It doesn’t matter what else you do; if you don’t protect children from abuse, you’re out.

    That’s certainly the message we want to be hearing from Rome. As for the justice of the move to remove the bishop, I think it’s telling that even New Catholic at Rorate Caeli argues that the move seems to be a just one, in view of what we know of Fr. Urrutigoity and his past – disturbing enough that both the SSPX and the Diocese of Scranton cut him loose and issued warnings about his behaviors.

    Yet the fact that some notorious sexual deviants and protectors not only continue to be untouched but are given new honors and positions suggests that, in fact, Rome ain’t quite there yet, not consistently. Archbp. Battista Ricca, while he was nuncio to Uruguay, was caught repeatedly in compromising situations with young men, spurring numerous complaints from Church priests and officials, and yet has been appointed director of the Vatican Guest House. Likewise, Cardinal Danneels of Belgium has a long record as one of Europe’s worst abuse enablers and protectors – transcripts of his interviews with victims and their families are available online and make for grim reading – is given a place of honor as a pontifical appointee to the Synod next October – a Synod on the family, no less. This is a particularly appalling juxtaposition. Danneels is the European Roger Mahoney on sexual abuse.

    Some traditionalists are seeing a double standard, given the theological orientation of the prelates in question. I don’t know if there’s enough evidence for that. But the Holy See must take a much more consistent line on this, meting out the treatment they’re rightly giving to Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano to every such prelate, no matter who he is.

  • Athelstane

    UPDATE: Phil Lawler notes a new development on why Livieres Plano was removed that undercuts his hope:

    Today the Vatican press office released a statement that loudly, clearly said something quite different. Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano was removed, we are told, because of his “difficult” relations with other prelates in Paraguay.

    Really? Can a bishop be yanked out of office because he doesn’t get along with his colleagues? (St. Athanasius wouldn’t have survived under that sort of policy.) Are we to believe, then, that a failure to be cordial is a more serious offense than the promotion of a priest who had been declared dangerous to children?

    One day the Vatican takes a decisive action, which is interpreted universally as a strong indicator of new seriousness about sexual abuse and episcopal accountability. The very next day the press office issues a statement that muddies the waters. Once again critics of the Church are saying that the Vatican doesn’t take the issue seriously, and defenders of the faith are sadly shaking their heads.

    Now, like Phil, I’m starting to wonder just how seriously the Holy See takes its responsibility to stamp out sexual abuse in the Church.

    • WesleyD

      I agree with Lawler’s (and your) point about messaging. However, Lawler’s source appears to be the NYTimes report, which is quite ambivalent:

      The Vatican spokesman said the reasons had more to do with the bishop’s clashes with his colleagues than with his role in protecting the accused priest. The Vatican sent a delegation to Paraguay in July to report back. “The important problem was the relations within the episcopacy and in the local church, which were very difficult,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, adding that the bishop was in Rome this week to discuss the conclusions of the report with his superiors. Father Lombardi said the accusations of sexual misconduct against the priest, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, an Argentine who had worked for years in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, were “not central, albeit have been debated.”

      In other words, an investigation into Bp. Livieres’ clashes with other clergy had been going on for some time; this week he was called to Rome because of this, and removed. Meanwhile, the Urritigoity case was pending. In such a case, would you insist that if a bishop has two accusations being investigated, the second being an abuse case, that he not be fired when the first accusation warrants it? That would be good for “messaging” but a strange way to do justice.

      I usually agree with Lawler, but in this case his question of “Can a bishop be yanked out of office because he doesn’t get along with his colleagues?” misses the seriousness of this case. Livieres’ diocese includes 16 diocesan priests; 10 of the 16 wrote to Pope Benedict to complain about him. A few months later, 150 priests from all of Urugay did the same. (This is according to the bishop’s own website which defends him!) That suggests a real problem, not merely “not getting along” with people. I know several priests and deacons who are not fond of their ordinaries but would never dream of lodging a formal complaint for that reason alone! But Bishop Livieres’ response was to pull his seminarians out of the Uruguay seminary and start his own seminary. I don’t know what problems it had, but two months ago the Vatican banned Livieres from ordaining any new clergy.

      Oh, and Livieres, in a television interview, accused the Archbishop of Asunción, Eustaquio Cuquejo Verga, of being a homosexual. (He is the sole archbishop and sole cardinal in Paraguay.) Despite Phil Lawler’s analogy, I don’t recall Athanasius doing that to his own metropolitan!

      Moreover, the Urrutiogity case and the separatist seminary case may very well be related, for Urrutiogity was working in formation in Livieres’ seminary, and the bishop was so pleased with the results that he promoted Urrutiogity to vicar general.

      These are the facts. One can plausibly weave these into a coherent picture of a lone traditionalist bishop, despised by the liberal bishops and liberal clergy of his country, who decided to “go it alone”, forming his own traditional seminary with the help of a former SSPX priest who, unbeknownst to him, was a serial abuser, until the liberal forces in Francis’ Vatican crushed this bishop entirely because he was a conservative ideologue and not at all because he had entrusted his seminarians and the his diocese to a known serial abuser. But this simply makes no sense to me. The two are related. See my post below — the same diocesan website that accuses the bishop’s critics of being leftist cafeteria catholics also accuses every single person who accused Urrutiogity of abuse as being a leftist cafeteria catholic. (The website also has amazing claims such as “To top it all off, Father Carlos’ [Urrutigoity’s] heterosexuality was confirmed
      professionally by two independent psychological evaluations, one of
      which was in the U.S. and the other in Canada. These evaluations
      discarded any possibility of psychopathies or personality disorders.” Wow, that convinces me….)

      • Athelstane


        1) I don’t dispute that the Urrutigoity case (which I have been following for well over a decade) was deeply troubling, and – given what I know – Livieres’s continued defense of him in the face of ample evidence of his torrid career was enough cause to remove him. That the same standard applied to the episcopate around the world would almost certainly result in the dismissal of many hundreds of bishops is deeply troubling, but does not mitigate Livieres’s mistake.

        2) One can plausibly weave these into a coherent picture of a lone traditionalist bishop, despised by the liberal bishops and liberal clergy of his country, who decided to “go it alone”… Well, actually, if you know anything at all about the state of the Church in Paraguay, that’s not just a plausible picture, but fairly accurate. Yes – it’s that bad (consider the case of the ex-bishop Marxist president). The fact that he’s using this sorry state of affairs to defend Urrutigoity is regrettable in the extreme, but doesn’t change the larger situation, alas.

        Ciudad del Este has 82 priests (counting religious) but with quite a few more seminarians – in fact, more than the rest of the country put together. That a more orthodox bishop could incite ten of his own priests to complain (and over a hundred more around the country) is not a surprise, nor unprecedented, nor necessarily a reflection of his inability to play well with others. When Cardinal Ouellet first came to Quebec, the general impression was that you could count the number of priests not hostile to him on two hands. The Archdiocese of Quebec had gone off the progressive deep end long before.

        3) Bishop Livieres Plano brought this dismissal on himself through his protection and promotion of a known sexual deviant, one already kicked out of the SSPX and Scranton. I think he had to go. But it doesn’t mean that he didn’t do a great deal of good otherwise in his diocese, or that there really wasn’t a conspiracy of left-wing dominated clergy in much of the rest of Paraguay out to get him. All the more dismaying that he would give them such a powerful weapon to use against him.

        But why was he removed? If it was primarily because of Fr. Urrutigoity, then I share Mark’s and Phil Lawler’s initial satisfaction with what happened. If it was mostly because he could not get along with a pack of liberation theology obsessed bishops who had run the Paraguayan Church almost completely into the ground, then I’m dismayed. The fact that Cardinal Danneels, one of the worst sex abuse enablers in the world, has a prominent pontifical appointment to the Synod next month does make me wonder just how seriously the Holy See at present really DOES take sexual abuse seriously, and whether this case can be ascribed to any such intent at all.

      • Athelstane

        P.S. Despite Phil Lawler’s analogy, I don’t recall Athanasius doing that to his own metropolitan!

        In fairness, during St. Athanasius’s entire life in the episcopate, he was his own metropolitan.

  • iamlucky13

    The local paper ran multiple articles on Josef Wesolowski when he fled to the Vatican, playing up the belief that he would be protected there, and downplaying his laicization.

    3 days since he was arrested, but they don’t seem to care about reporting on that (and it was pretty easy to search on a name like “Wesolowski” to make sure I didn’t miss an article about it).

  • WesleyD

    John Allen has an (excellent) article at the (dreadful) online site Crux.

    Bishop Livieres Plano is clearly trying to make this into a Benedict-versus-Francis thing:

    Bishop Livieres said he was appointed to the diocese by St. John Paul II in 2004 with a mandate, communicated to him by the nuncio at the time, to oppose Paraguayan bishops’ “monolithic” support for liberation theology. He said Pope Benedict XVI personally told him in 2008 that liberation theology was “the problem in all of Latin America.” But Pope Benedict “had a very different orientation from the present pontificate,” the bishop said. “This is a pontificate opposed to the previous pontificate.”

    This seems unbelievable to me. Cardinal Ratzinger, under Pope John Paul II, authored a document that has gone down in history as a “condemnation” of liberation theology, but if you read it you’ll see that it lists many good things and many bad things that fall under that vague name. After he became pope, Ratzinger/Benedict issued no new condemnations of liberation theology, but rather he praised some theologians who were often labelled “liberation theologians” but who were strong promoters of its good points and opponents of its bad points. For all I know, the bad forms of liberation theology are common in Uruguay, but I certainly don’t believe that Benedict believed that liberation theology in 2008 was “the problem” in Latin America. If he had believed that, Benedict would have said so in his public statements, rather than whispering it to one lone bishop.