Can you believe this?
ANDRÉS BELTRAMO ÁLVAREZ
The Vatican has ordered an apostolic visit for the Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico. An extensive and in-depth inquiry, which has already caused controversy in the country. Holy See authorities want to confirm whether some of the accusations made against Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves are true, especially with regards to the alleged mismanagement of the ministry. But the Puerto Rican faithful are willing to defend their pastor.
The Congregation for the Clergy of the Holy See ordered the visit and, as indicated by the same González Nieves, the apostolic visitor will be the Archbishop of Guayaquil (Ecuador), Antonio Arregui Yarza. The prelate began his investigation on 25 October with a series of interviews.
“The archdiocese would like to thank the Holy See and, in particular, the Congregation for the Clergy, for its attention to this local Church. At the same time, it invites all the Catholic faithful: priests, religious and lays, to accompany the outcome of the apostolic visit with their prayers. Since this is an internal process of the Church, this servant will not make any additional statements in this regard,” he remarked in a note.
According to press reports, investigations have begun for a presumed “political interventionism” of Archbishop González, who would have made the mistake of mounting an “altar of the fatherland” which boasted the flag of Puerto Rico. The story is not irrelevant, because the issue of national sovereignty divides the population of this country which is, in fact, a U.S. protectorate.
But the issue is far more complex than this. The Vatican Insider has confirmed that the apostolic visit was born after a series of complaints about alleged mismanagement of the ministry, which would involve some unclear economic movements, improper attitudes by diocesan clergy and some cases of abuse against minors.
The situation is delicate, the accusations must be confirmed with facts otherwise they will be denied. This is what the visitor Arregui Yarza will be doing over the next few days. He will observe, ask, listen, and eventually write a confidential report that will be delivered to the Vatican, where a decision will be made, if necessary.
The work, however, will not be easy. In recent days, the operations center, the Parish of Santa Teresita (at Ocean Park), has received the demands of dozens of faithful who want to offer their testimony, almost all of which are in defense of the Archbishop of San Juan.
In addition, Gonzalez Nieves is willing to defend himself by arguing, among other things, that the cases of abuse identified in his ecclesiastical territory were duly reported to the Vatican and consideration was given according to the precepts of Canon Law.
It is for this reason that the enormous interest of the Apostolic Nuncio of the Dominican Republic and Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico, Jozef Wesolowski attracted so much attention both in Rome and in San Juan, that the visit would take place at all costs.
According to the President of the Episcopal Conference of Puerto Rico and Bishop of Caguas, Ruben Antonio Gonzalez Medina, the visitor’s report will serve to offer, if required, “the guidelines to follow, clarifying those aspects that need further explanation.”
“Our Catholic Church has no fear of opening spaces for dialogue where, in an atmosphere of sincerity and openness we can, in the light of our pastoral action, reflect and evaluate, and also make appropriate decisions and, of course, reinforce the faith of our people of Puerto Rico,” he stated.
Lastly, he added: “we believe in the God of life that drives history and that, in the midst of the challenges that lie ahead, is led by pastors who speak honestly and sincerely, and above all, seek to construct the kingdom of God, founded on truth, justice and freedom, the real fruit of which is peace.”