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Pope Francis removes Rosario’s archbishop

Former Rosario archbishop José Luis Mollaghan is seen during a mass celebration in September.

Mollaghan, an old rival of the former Bergoglio, has been undergoing a financial probe

Following an internal investigation, Pope Francis removed Rosario Archbishop José Luis Mollaghan from his post — and found an elegant way to do so by appointing him to be part of a commission created under the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that will examine the appeals of priests who have been punished for sexual abuse of minors and other serious crimes.

The results of the internal investigation have not been announced yet.

In a brief note, the Vatican press office pointed out that the pope had nominated Mollaghan to be a member of the congregation “in the commission being established to examine the appeals of clergy for delicta graviora,” the Vatican term for sexual abuse of minors and serious sins against the sacraments.

The Vatican did not provide further details about the commission, when it would be established or what the extent of its mandate would be, and did not mention what Mollaghan’s position inside the commission would be.

The Rosario archbishop is accused of mismanaging Church funds. The Vatican even sent a representative — emeritus bishop José María Arancibia — in December to produce a report on both Mollaghan and former Cáritas charity organization head Osvaldo Buffarini, who is also under investigation.

The announcement was made yesterday morning by Apostolic nuncio Monsignor Emil Paul Tscherrig, who also said that Mollaghan would serve as apostolic administrator of Rosario until a new archbishop is named.

In indicating that the archbishop has headed the Archdiocese of Rosario “until now,” the announcement signalled that being part of the commission would be a full-time job based in Rome.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to UN agencies in Geneva, said that between 2004 and 2013, the Vatican had dismissed 848 priests from the priesthood as a result of sex abuse allegations that were found to be true.

In another 2,572 cases — mainly involving priests of an advanced age — the men were forbidden from having any contact with children and were ordered to retreat to a life of prayer and penance.

Long-time enemies

Mollaghan, 68, holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was named suffragan bishop of Buenos Aires in 1993, one year after the current pope became suffragan bishop in the City. The two worked together until Archbishop Mollaghan was named bishop of the Greater Buenos Aires district of San Miguel in 2000.

According to UK daily The Guardian, Mollaghan and Pope Francis are long-time enemies.

In 1992, Francis — who was then vicar-general of the City neighbourhood of Flores and known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio — insisted that Church authorities reveal the properties they owned. Mollaghan, as senior father in charge of episcopal finances, tried to block the initiative.

It seems Bergoglio did not forgive nor forget. When he became archbishop, he shuffled Mollaghan out of his post along with other conservative clerics, The Guardian noted.

Nevertheless, the decision to oust Archbishop Mollaghan from his post seems to be more related to the mismanagement of funds and the role of Buffarini, who led the Church-sponsored FM Asunción de Arroyo Seco radio station and was removed from his post in February last year.

Mollaghan had been appointed Rosario Archbishop in 2005 and took his post in March, 2006.

Herald Staff

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