Pope Sacks Paraguay Bishop Accused of Protecting Abuser Priest
By Nick Squires
September 25, 2014
|Livieres Plano, a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, has been removed by Pope Francis from a Paraguayan diocese Photo: AP|
Pope Francis has sacked a bishop in South America who for years protected a priest accused of sexual misconduct.
The Pope, who has vowed to adopt a much tougher stance than his predecessors on priests accused of sexual abuse, forcibly removed Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano from his post as bishop of a diocese in Paraguay.
The bishop is accused of protecting an Argentine priest whose former superiors in the United States had described as a "serious threat to young people."
The bishop's removal was the result of an investigation instigated by the Vatican earlier this year.
He had refused to resign, leaving the Pope no option but to remove him in what the Vatican described in a statement as a "hard decision".
The move came just two days after the Vatican placed under house arrest a disgraced Polish archbishop who is accused of sexually abusing young boys while posted to the Dominican Republic as the Holy See's ambassador.
Jozef Wesolowski, who allegedly preyed on boys and paid them to perform sex acts, is expected to be put on trial by Vatican prosecutors within a few months.
Pope Francis has said that under his papacy there will be "zero tolerance" for priests or bishops who indulge in sexual abuse, especially against children.
The sexual abuse of minors was worse than "a black Mass" or Satanic ritual, he said earlier this year.
Groups representing victims of clerical sex abuse cautiously welcomed the removal of the bishop in Paraguay but said it should not be interpreted as evidence of a radical new regime within the Vatican.
"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," the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement.
“Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of Catholic officials – from pastors to prelates – have ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes and many are still ignoring and concealing clergy sex crimes.
“It is clear that the Vatican moves on abuse only when public exposure of cover-ups generates enough public controversy.”