Speed Reads

Pope and Change

Pope Francis sacks Paraguay bishop accused of shielding sex abuser

It's almost like Pope Francis is trying to send a message through his actions. Two days after arresting a defrocked former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic on charges of paying boys for sex, the pope dismissed Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, a controversial conservative prelate accused of giving shelter to a priest wanted for allegedly sexually abusing seminarians in the U.S. and Argentina.

Officially, Pope Francis demoted Livieres due to "serious pastoral reasons and for the greater good of the unity of the Church in Ciudad del Este and the episcopal communion in Paraguay." A Vatican spokesman emphasized the conflict between Livieres, a member of Opus Dei, and his colleagues — among other things, Livieres opened his own theologically conservative seminary and called the Asunción archbishop gay — and said the allegations against accused abuser Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity were "not central, albeit have been debated."

Livieres had appointed Urrutigoity as his vicar-general, a position that generally handles clergy sex abuse cases, even after he was warned about him by a Pennsylvania bishop. In July, after an apostolic investigation, the Vatican had barred Livieres from ordaining priests and fired Urrutigoity as vicar-general. "This is another sign of Francis' extraordinary governing skills and courage," said Italian journalist Carlo Marroni. It shows "his will to clean up house and renew the church."