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Vatican investigation rebukes Central African Republic’s priests over celibacy violations; archbishop resigns

Catholic World News - May 27, 2009

The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Archbishop Pomodimo, who enjoyed the support of local clergy and was appointed to the see in 2003, is 54 years old. The decision comes on the heels of the May 16 resignation of 52-year-old Bishop François-Xavier Yombandje of Bossangoa, the president of the nation’s episcopal conference during the hierarchy’s 2007 ad limina visit.

The resignation follows a Vatican investigation that found that Archbishop Pomodimo adopted “a moral attitude which is not always in conformity with his commitments to follow Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience.” The investigation, conducted by Archbishop Robert Sarah, the Guinea-born secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, concluded that many local priests have homes and children. A local newspaper reported that in most dioceses and the majority of parishes, priests live with women and have children.

In an open letter to the nation’s clergy, Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said that “many bad things have been done to the Body of Christ through poor and scandalous comportments.” He added:

It is pointless to deny what everybody knows. There is no need judging the motives and circumstances of the evil that has been committed. Members of the national clergy, diocesan and religious, you are, in one way or the other, accomplices in the current situation, but each of you shall assume his own culpability proportionally to his own responsibility.

The nation of 4.4 million is 21% Catholic and has nine dioceses.

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