Pope removes conservative bishop from diocese in Puerto Rico
March 09, 2022
CWN Editor's Note: Pope Francis has removed a bishop from his diocese in Puerto Rico, without citing any legal or canonical offense.
The Vatican announced on March 9 that Bishop Daniel Fernandez Torres had been “relieved” of his role in the Arecibo diocese; the announcement gave no reason for the move.
“It is not up to me to explain for you a decision that I cannot explain to myself,” Bishop Fernandez said in an announcement posted on the diocesan web site. He said that he had not been accused of any misconduct, and characterized the Pope’s move as unjust.
“I regret very much that in the Church where mercy is preached so much, in practice some lack the least sense of justice,” the bishop said. He revealed that he had been asked to resign by the apostolic nuncio in Puerto Rico, and had refused, because he did not want to become “an accomplice to a totally unjust action.”
Bishop Fernandez had broken with the other bishops of Puerto Rico last year, refusing to sign a statement that all Catholics have a “duty” to accept Covid vaccination. He explained that “it is is legitimate for a faithful Catholic to have doubts about the safety and efficacy of a vaccine given that what the pharmaceutical companies or drug regulatory agencies say is in no way a dogma of faith.”
Bishop Fernandez has also been at odds with other bishops of Puerto Rico when he opposed a law that banned “conversion therapy” for homosexuals and when he resisted sending seminarians from his diocese to an interdiocesan seminary.
The bishop said that he had been told he was being relieved of his diocesan duties because he had not shown “insufficient communion with brother bishops.” He said that he had also been accused of being disobedient to the Pope because, when summoned to Rome, he had said that he could not travel because of Covid-era restrictions.
“I feel blessed to suffer persecution and slander for proclaiming the truth,” Bishop Fernandez said.
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