Francis sacks a bishop in Puerto Rico for …. why?

I read first at Rorate that a 57 year old bishop of the Diocese of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, was summarily removed from the diocese by Francis the Merciful, first of his name.

He was asked to resign. He refused. He was s-canned.

There was no reason given. He hasn’t been charged with anything. If he had been an abuser, like Francis’ friend Zanchetta, perhaps he would have been promoted… like Francis’ friend Zanchetta.

I did see this on Crux, which places two issues side by side and which I’m convinced are related.

Fernandez Torres was also accused of refusing to transfer seminarians from his diocese to the new Interdiocesan Seminary of Puerto Rico, and he was the only prelate not signing several statements made by the bishops’ conference, including a national ban on the Tridentine Mass following Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, that limits the use of the traditional Latin liturgy. The bishop also voiced his opposition to a bill that would have banned “conversion therapy” for homosexuals.

So, he wasn’t cooperating with the other bishops, who are trying to crush people who want the Traditional Latin Mass and who are soft on sodomy.

Remember about the Bishop of Mayagüez, forbade Roman chasubles, linen tablecloths, chalice veils, maniples, birettas….  That’s what is going on in PR.

Again I had my thought of gathering the cancelled priests, bishops and even cardinals at some monastic complex of a now extinct lib order and starting a seminary.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. supercooper says:

    So you want to establish an orthodox seminary run by personae non gratae of the ecclesiastical establishment…. I’ve seen this movie before.

  2. BeautifulSavior says:

    Bishop Daniel is a good Shepherd. The people of his Diocese are with him. Yesterday we were all perplexed by the news. We know that they have been after him for a while. The administrator they placed is an 80 year old Jesuit who led the Diocese of Caguas (good politician), my Diocese when I lived there. May God have mercy on my poor little island.
    Many Catholics have abandoned the Church over some of the scandals. The sheep don’t understand, we are simple people, very much in love with Our Lord and Our Lady. But, they been chipping away at our Traditions. (Each Parrish used to celebrate with a novena and procession in honor of her Patrons Saint.)
    Over 500 years the Catholic Faith came to Puerto Rico, and correct me if I’m wrong, I believe those Spanish missionaries were offering The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin.
    Sorry, I’m still very sad at what is happening there, and probably don’t make any sense. I only know that a grave injustice has been committed, and we are asked to help Jesus carry His Cross.

  3. Bthompson says:

    Shoot one to encourage the rest?

  4. G1j says:

    I have a belief that the decisions regarding sweeping change in the Church have already been finalized and deployment will occur soon after the Synod on Synodality comes to a close. Our Diocese just administered a Survey asking a broad spectrum of questions, one being if we would be open to a more contemporary form of worship! If that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what will. The whole survey steered you in a direction of major change and offered no room for comment. It instilled a troubling feeling in the pit of my stomach.

  5. mater101 says:

    First: your seminary idea is Golden! Just think of the quality of men who could staff and teach there!

    Second: How can we send Bishop Torres any message of support and prayer?

    Thanks…and Ciao!

  6. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “Again I had my thought of gathering the cancelled priests, bishops and even cardinals at some monastic complex of a now extinct lib order and starting a seminary.”

    Please God do, Fr. Z!

    I will be honored to contribute.

  7. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    Just s quick note on the RC Church in PR, and its having an affinity for sodomy:

    The ex-Eminence Theodore McCarrick was in his early “career” the President of the University of Puerto Rico. While “serving his masters” there in PR, he found time to co-author the 1967 manifesto called “The Land of Lakes Statement,” by which he and other apostates and gay-lobbyists running formerly “Catholic” Universities and colleges declared that their “institutions” were no longer bound by any authority, including the Church. Signatory universities were Notre Dame, Georgetown SJ, Fordham SJ, Boston College SJ, U of Puerto Rico, etc.

    You can find the Land of lakes Statement and it’s signatories on the Notre Dame web site, among other places.

    Most Catholic people are unaware of this, but McCarrick has been hard at work dismantling the Catholic Church for 50 years.
    So it is no surprise that a Catholic enclave “formed” by the arch-sex-abuser and unrepentant fraud McCarrick would express affinity for sodomy.

  8. WVC says:

    Out of curiosity – what if a bishop refuses to leave? Do they call in the local police to have him arrested? What if the people refuse to let the bishop be replaced? What if the local police refused to remove the stubborn bishop? Would Pope Francis deploy the Swiss Guard?

    At some point, I hope the good bishops remember that St. Athanasius, the guy that got exiled 5 times, is remembered to this day, while the hundreds of bishops who went along to get along are lost to history and, perhaps, some may even be lost to eternity.

  9. MaterDeicolumbae says:

    What does happen if the bishop refuses to leave???
    Is this a case for a ferocious, bulldog-type of canon lawyer to defend Bishop Torres?

  10. TonyO says:

    What does happen if the bishop refuses to leave???
    Is this a case for a ferocious, bulldog-type of canon lawyer to defend Bishop Torres?

    I believe that this is right: Bishop Torres should fight tooth and nail under every possible maneuver with Canon Law. He should file whatever protests, grievances, etc. that it allows, or even remotely, possibly allows. He should also take his protest to his fellow bishops: it’s one thing to be removed “for cause”. But bishop of a diocese does not serve as the pope’s vicar, (he is not using the pope’s authority as a stand-in or proxy for the pope), and should not be held to serve at the Pope’s pleasure. Once he is appointed and installed, he serves by God’s authority. There should be provisions under Canon Law by which the pope can remove a bishop for cause, which SHOULD imply that a bishop cannot be removed without cause.

    Once Francis has had his way with any protests Torres files, the bishop probably should just double down and not move.
    Do they call in the local police to have him arrested?
    Funny thing is, I don’t think that would that work. This is my own guesstimate, and I am no expert, but: The pope is not a US person, and has no direct standing in the US regarding the diocese. In most dioceses, the bishop holds all of the diocesan property as under a “corporation sole”, and until there is some action by which a US Court would recognize the bishop has ceased to BE the bishop, they cannot separate him from the property. So, the bishop could tie up Rome for years and years fighting it in US courts, preventing any new bishop from taking over…if he is willing to take the ecclesiastical penalties the pope may decide to try to dish out. It’s not a thing to take lightly. But then, neither is leaving his post as bishop without valid basis, which could be tantamount to abandoning his duties. He already refused to resign (which was probably the right move). If an attempt to remove him hasn’t any validity, then it would be an empty effort and (regardless of appearances) he would still be the bishop.

    Francis has, a couple of times, removed other bishops in shady circumstances. This article suggests that Francis tried to change “the rules” to allow this, but as usual, he created a muddle.
    It says:
    Concerning resignations at the pope’s request, the edict states: “In some particular circumstances, the competent authority can consider it necessary to ask a bishop to present his resignation from pastoral office, after having made known the reasons for the request and listening carefully to the reasons, in fraternal dialogue.”
    But “ask the bishop to present his resignation” is NOT “can remove the bishop”. If the bishop refuses the request, there is no intimation that this then means the pope can just TAKE a so-called “resignation” without consent.

    To my simple mind, it is unclear that the Church’s constitution permits a pope to remove a bishop without cause. And, in any case, where is Francis’s vaunted “accompaniment” and listening to all sides? Once again, he is a hollow shell, saying one thing and doing another.

  11. idelsan says:

    Puerto Rico is a mess. So this bishop had his seminary in Pamplona (Spain), were he had some garanties. It was a bold move, but it seem to work. Obviusly other bishops in the island did not like that. I have meet the rector of the seminary, great priest. A very good liturgist. But the bishop was like Gary Cooper in Hignoon, so he was to be taken down.

  12. monstrance says:

    “Removal without cause….”
    Would non-compliance with TC fall under cause ?
    And is he the first of many ?

  13. Ave Maria says:

    I have some little nagging thought about what the infiltrated Vatican will do when my good bishop retires or is removed. My guess is that a destroyer will be sent in if the current regime is still in power. But that is in the future and I must live today and take advantage of all the Lord provides this day.

  14. aam says:

    Nothing but faith-affirming news from Rome. /s

  15. Pingback: FRIDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  16. matt from az says:

    He should join the SSPX. They can always use another bishop.
    Or he could be the next Antonio de Castro Meyer.
    Either way he is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek and his episcopal consecration can never go away. So he should do what ever he needs to do to continue the mission.

  17. Dave P. says:


    The bishop has no real recourse. This Pope seems to have little regard for Canon Law, or any set of rules except for the ones of his own making.

  18. oledocfarmer says:

    One thing that the French actually got right was this observation: “Tyranny always comes from the Left.”

    I don’t know if so-called Pope Francis sees himself as a “Leftist”….but he follows their playbook word-for-word. And if I may be so bold, at least seems to be as cynical as your average dogged Leftist.

  19. Fr. Reader says:

    @matt from az
    Why or what for? He does not seem to have any canonical problem, it is just that he is not the head of that diocese.

  20. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Few Catholics realize that total papal control over episcopal appointments (and dismissals) is relatively recent phenomenon. Previously, the Habsburgs et al. provided a system of checks and balances by selecting or vetoing the bishops in their kingdoms. The Catholic monarchs functioned as a counterweight against the Roman pontiff. It was only with the collapse of the Catholic monarchies in 19th century Europe that the papacy gained complete power over all the bishops in the world. We’re seeing the downside of the lack of balance of power. As Lord Acton said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When you place total power in one person, and that person considers himself unbound from norms or traditions or even a basic sense of fair play, you’re going to get arbitrary, capricious and unjust actions like we’re seeing now.

  21. I will not hold my breath waiting for liberals to sound the alarm about this sort of thing, as they did during prior pontificates.

    In any case, so much for the whole decentralization theme.

  22. TonyO says:

    Why or what for? He does not seem to have any canonical problem, it is just that he is not the head of that diocese.

    @ Fr. Reader: I would agree that he “is not the head of that diocese”, if it is a fully established legal standard (conformed to the constitution of the Church) that if a pope says to a bishop “I remove you from office” without cause, that stated removal does in fact dissolve that bishop holding office as ordinary of the diocese. But if that is not a clearly established standard of church law, or is incompatible with the constitution of the Church, then Bishop Torres has reason to worry about whether he is still bound to carry out the office.

    Would non-compliance with TC fall under cause ?

    montrance, I agree that non-compliance with TC would be a KIND of cause, (not one that arises to the gravity needed to justly remove a bishop – 90% of the bishops failed to follow the instructions of Ecclesia Dei, and 98% flout the norms of Ex Corde Ecclesia, but popes don’t remove bishops over these failings – but still a “cause” of sorts). But the facts that have come out so far seem to be, not that he “didn’t implement TC”, but that he didn’t implement TC with the specific MECHANISM of signing his name to the joint document by the other PR bishops – a document that was manifestly unjust and was arguably contrary to TC in certain respects. That is, he refused to join other bishops in an excessively harsh and roughshod way of suppressing TLM, a way harsher than even TC itself was (which is sayin’ something.) There is nothing in TC that directs, or even IMPLIES, that a bishop must agree with other bishops on how to implement TC, and in fact the opening part of TC says that the bishop is individually responsible for handling the liturgical practice in his diocese. It makes no sense to insist the bishop make his own judgments, and then fault him for not deferring the decision to some group of bishops.

    The manner of this removal, without any of the extended consultation and investigation that we would expect (it took Benedict 5 years to get rid of the bishop of Toowoomba, Australia, with multiple efforts to get a resignation), makes it clear, I think, that the pope is INTENT on flexing his muscles – to be seen to be acting harshly and peremptorily. That is “part of the message”, no more Mr. Nice Guy, a wake-up call to other bishops that they need to toe the line, OR ELSE. I fear that some bishops will cave in to this kind of pressure. They need our prayers.

  23. Mike says:

    O Lord, we need a new Pope, one after your own heart. Do not fail us, sinners that we are.

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