[A tale of two dioceses]
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Bishop Sergio Osvaldo Buenanueva of San Francisco in Cordoba, in photo as Auxiliary Bishop of Mendoza, in the background is the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires,
Jorge Mario Bergoglio
(Rome) The betrayal of the priestly promise of chastity is as old as the priesthood, but it has always been an offense, both to the faithful and to the unbelievers, the latter being fond of using it as a moral charge against the Church. In Luther’s time this was no different from today. After his ordination, Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss “reformer”, first fell into the mills of politics, then into the bed of a woman whom he impregnated, and finally pushed into the front row of the Reformation. In Argentina, the media, not unlike in Europe, are reporting with a mixture of scandal and schadenfreude on the third priest of the diocese of San Francisco and Cordoba, who had to give up his priesthood in the past year because he was not only in a “father” the spiritual sense but also in the physical. The most recent case concerns the priest Marcio Peironi.
The Diocese, established in 1961, has a total of thirty-two diocesan priests, which means that the loss of three its priests is a painful jolt for the diocese. For the time being, there is no indication that Rome intends to send the diocese a “fraternal visitation” as has already happened to the Diocese of Ciudad del Este in neighboring Paraguay in 2014.
The difference seems to lie in the fact that Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of Ciudad del Este, a traditional Bishop from the ranks of Opus Dei was, by his extensive pastoral work, had “shamed” the liberation theology-inspired Paraguayan Episcopal Conference. The Diocese of San Francisco de Cordoba does, however, constitute an “openness to the surprises of the Holy Spirit”, as the newspaper La Capital wrote in yesterday’s edition.
Bishop Livieres abandoned the nationwide unified education of the seminarians and in 2007 founded his own diocesan priestly seminary. There the candidates were trained in both forms of the Roman rite and in the traditional sense. The Ciudad del Este priestly seminary had enrolled two and a half times as many seminarians in 2014 as all other dioceses in Paraguay. Although only about ten per cent of Paraguayan faithful belong to this diocese, Bishop Livieres had 70 per cent of all seminarians in the country. This had to do with the different understanding of the priesthood and church. But that was not desired, as such an imbalance would soon have had country-wide consequences.
The “fraternal” inclination to Ciudad del Este
Bishop Livieres was regarded by the other bishops as a “troublemaker”. One of them, the liberation theorist, Fernando Lugo, Bishop of San Pedro, the political commitment was so important that he had to be released from his episcopal rights and duties in order to become President of the Union as part of a left coalition. It turned out later that the confinement had more to do with the repeated violation of his celibacy promise. He is the father of at least two children from different women. He has had sexual relations with other women as a priest and bishop. As President of the Republic, he was removed from office after less than four years. Today, he sits as a representative of the Left Party Frente Guasu, which is a member of the Socialist International (SI), in the Paraguayan Senate.
Pope Francis sent a “brotherly visitor” to Bishop Livieres in 2014, he was so fraternal that the bishop was dismissed shortly afterwards, without mentioning a reason and under shameful circumstances, without being able to justify himself against the charge. Pope Francis even denied him audience. Francis will have to justify himself before God, wrote Bishop Livieres in a statement to his deposition. One year later the bishop sadly succumbed to a serious illness.
The priestly seminary of Ciudad del Este still exists, but has been rejoined by the new bishop to the National Seminary of Asuncion. The number of seminarians has fallen to a quarter after a massive purge of “conservative” candidates. Various traditional communities were dissolved, priests and orders were removed from the diocese, numerous changes took place.
The reaction is quite different in the diocese of San Francisco and Cordoba in Argentina. There is no “brotherly” visitation, because the diocese is considered “open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit”. To which belongs, apparently, for the newspaper La Capital, also the procreation of children by priests.