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Pope Francis fires bishop who promoted priest accused of sexual abuse

The bishop is the second the Pope has removed from office.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

POPE FRANCIS HAS forcibly removed a conservative Paraguayan bishop who had clashed with his fellow bishops on ideological grounds and promoted a priest accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The removal of Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, marks the second time Francis has kicked out a conservative bishop for the sake of keeping peace among the faithful and unity among bishops.

In March, he ousted the “bling bishop” of Limburg, Germany, whose €31 million ($43-million) new residence complex caused an uproar among the faithful.

Livieres was named bishop of Paraguay’s second city, Ciudad del Este, in 2004 and immediately disturbed other more progressive Paraguayan bishops by opening his own seminary that followed a much more orthodox line than the main seminary in the capital, Asuncion. Paraguay’s bishops are known for their progressive bent in a poor country where liberation theology found fertile ground.

Relations between Livieres and the rest of Paraguay’s bishops worsened when he got into a public spat with the then-archbishop of Asuncion, whom he accused of being gay.

Livieres also infuriated advocates for victims of sexual abuse by taking in and promoting an Argentine priest, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, whose former superior in the U.S. had said was a “serious threat to young people.”

Urrutigoity has denied allegations of sexual impropriety, has never been charged and hasn’t been accused of sexually abusing minors. In 2004, though, the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, settled a lawsuit against him, another priest and the diocese for $400,000. The suit had alleged the two men engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct, the Global Post has reported.

Earlier this year, the Vatican sent a cardinal to investigate problems in Livieres’ diocese, particularly concerning the seminary. The investigator reported back to Francis, and Livieres was summoned to Rome this week to discuss his future.

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Associated Press

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