Monsignor Urrutigoity Celebrating
Holy Thursday Mass in the Old
They say that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you and, in the same vein, just because they’re krazy doesn’t mean that the katholic krazies aren’t right to think that the tide is going against them in the Church where Francis is Pope. Several of the krazy blogs that I read to get my blood pressure out of the basement have been wailing and whining about Pope Francis this past week removing Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano from his Diocese of Ciudad del Este after an apostolic visitation led by Spanish Cardinal Abril y Castello. Bishop Livieres was the darling of the krazies on the extreme right. He was an ardent supporter of the pre-conciliar rites—some sources say that almost every parish in his diocese had a “Traditional Latin Mass.” His seminary was full—200 seminarians, the majority of whom had been dismissed from other dioceses for various reasons. He is a member of Opus Dei and has accused the other bishops of Paraguay of being locked into the “Liberation Theology.” In fact, he went on television to accuse his Metropolitan Archbishop, Eustaquio Cuquejo Verga, CSSR, of being gay. What most of the krazy blogs didn’t tell you—and I will give Rorate Caeli credit for being honest where others failed—was that Bishop Livieres not only sheltered but made his Vicar General, one Monsignor Carlos Urrutigoity. Urrutigoity began his career in the Society of Saint Pius X, the breakaway “Traditionalist” group founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in reaction against the Second Vatican Council. Urrutigoity studied and then served at the Traditionalist seminary at La Reja in Argentina where he was first accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. Sent to the Society’s seminary at Winona Minnesota, Urrutigoity was next accused of molesting several Winona seminarians under his care. When Urrutigoity next surfaced in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton Pennsylvania, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior of the Lefebvrist group wrote Bishop William Timlin, then the Bishop of Scranton, a letter of warning alleging “Our conclusion is that there is a dangerous pattern in Fr. Urrutigoity and we feel obliged to reveal this to you.” This was very generous of Bishop Fellay when one considers the ideological tension between the Society of Pius X and the mainline Catholic Church which has accepted the Second Vatican Council.
In Scranton, Urrutigoity and another priest gathered a group of young men together as the Society of Saint John—a neo-traditionalist group that turned out to be the proverbial barrel where they could shoot the proverbial fish, taking advantage of the trust of several of the younger men to entice them to sexual relations. When this came to the attention of the Diocese, Urrutigoity was sent away for evaluation and the Diocese tried to have him dismissed from the clergy, the Diocesan Review board declaring:
“In view of the credible allegation from the seminarian, his admitted practice of sleeping with boys and young men, and the troubling evaluation by the Southdown Institute, Father Carlos Urrutigoity should be removed from active ministry; his faculties should be revoked; he should be asked to live privately.” He was suspended from priestly ministry but before the steps for dismissal were undertaken, disappeared only to show up in Ciudad del Este where he was promoted to Vicar General of the Diocese—the number 2 position in the diocese. Local activists there protested the appointment to Bishop Livieres only to be told that the accusations against Urrutigoity—the whole series of accusations from Argentina, from Minnesota, from Scranton—had all been “false.” Moreover, according to sources in Ciudad del Este, Urrutigoity was not the only priest refugee from accusations that Livieres had been sheltering.
It is unfortunate that the Vatican has said that his protecting an alleged priest-predator was only a secondary reason for requiring Bishop Livieres’ resignation. While his inability to work collaboratively with the other bishops in the Paraguayan Conference is sufficient reason to remove him—a Church has to work in unity and if one member blocks that unity it is reasonable for his peers to ask for him to be replaced—surely his protecting Monsignor Urrugoity is an even more serious, and far more serious, reason for removing him. Moreover while many of the krazies—again, Rorate Caeli (to its credit) excepted—are bemoaning this “injustice,” protesting the removal because of his harboring—and empowering—Urrugoity, only goes to show just how kraaaaazzzzzy the krazies are. But while that is the end of the Livieres/Urrugoity saga, it is for the krazies only one lantern hung in the bell tower of the old North Church to sound the tocsin and alert the Americans: Pope Francis is Coming! Pope Francis is Coming!
The second lantern was reported in the New York Times this morning. The Times wrote that Pope Francis has asked the Archbishop of Ottawa, a fellow Jesuit, Terrence Prendergast, to “visitate” the Diocese of Kansas City/Saint Joseph Missouri and evaluate the fitness of Bishop Robert Finn to lead the Diocese. Bishop Finn is one of the most neo-traditionalist bishops in the United States. He also has links to, though is not a member of, Opus Dei. Because of his failure to report allegations against Father Shawn Rattigan for child pornography, Bishop Finn was found guilty in September 2012 on one charge of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor in Missouri. Both child-protection advocates and church liberals have been demanding his resignation since his conviction. Is Bishop Finn’s misdemeanor sufficient grounds to require his resignation? That issue could probably be argued either way. I guess one would next have to ask about Archbishop Cordileone’s conviction for drunk driving. It could get ugly. An investigation of the question do the faithful of his diocese still invest Bishop Finn with the moral credibility to effectively govern his diocese is probably appropriate, but any number of bishops could fail that test—not for a misdemeanor, or even for any fault in particular, but just for their spiritual and moral blandness. Would Archbishop Myers make the cut with the additions to his vacation home and Jacuzzi rising in the wooded glens of Hunterdon County? What about Bishop O’Connell of Trenton? Slattery of Tulsa? Morlino of Madison? Paprocki of Springfield? Lennon of Cleveland? Sheridan of Colorado Springs? Olmstead of Phoenix? Do they have the credibility of the faithful entrusted to them? Some of our bishops are the best argument against the Apostolic Succession. But that is the great thing about being a historian. This is nothing new. In fact, as disappointing as much of our current leadership may be, the Church has seen worse—far worse. So pray for the leadership we have and pray that Pope Francis will give us the best bishops in the future and that he will live and reign long enough to make a difference, a crucial difference, in the future of the Church.