Pope Francis is sending an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, a Paraguayan diocese the vicar general of which has a history of sexual abuse accusations. Archbishop Eliseo Ariotti, apostolic nuncio to Paraguay, announced July 2 that the Pope will be sending an apostolic visitation to the diocese July 21-26 “to determine not only what has happened recently, but all there is to see in the house of Ciudad del Este.” Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, will lead the investigation; he is to be assisted by Bishop Milton Troccoli Cebedio, an auxiliary of the Montevideo archdiocese. Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, an Argentine native, is a vicar general for the Ciudad del Este diocese, but he served in the Diocese of Scranton from the late 1990s until 2002, when a highly publicized lawsuit accused him of sexual misconduct involving minors at the now-closed St. Gregory's Academy. Both Fr. Urrutigoity and another priest, Fr. Eric Ensey, were suspended by now-retired Bishop James Timlin, who also suspended the Society of St. John to which the priests belonged. A statement on the Diocese of Scranton website describes Fr. Urrutigoity as a “serious threat to young people” and says that Bishop Timlin's immediate successor, Bishop Joseph Martino, cautioned the bishop of Paraguay against accepting Fr. Urrutigoity as an active priest. “Bishop Martino … carefully and consistently expressed his grave doubts about this cleric’s suitability for priestly ministry and cautioned the bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay to not allow Father Urrutigoity to incardinate into his diocese,” the statement reads. “Despite these serious cautions, Bishop Rogelio Livieres informed the Diocese of Scranton that he was allowing Father Urrutigoity to incardinate into his Paraguay diocese.” The Diocese of Scranton also expressed its ongoing efforts to fight abuse within the Church “despite what appears to be a lack of reciprocity in this particular case.” The current bishop of Scranton, Joseph Bambera, commented on the case in the statement, saying that “every case of sexual abuse is appalling and leaves profound wounds. Cases such as this demand the promise of every diocese, parish and school throughout the Church to do all we can to learn from the mistakes of the past and establish safeguards for the future.” A July 7 statement of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este called the visitation “long awaited,” noting that Bishop Livieres had invited it so that Vatican authorities can “know of all the work being realized in this area of the country” and inform the Holy See “about our vibrant and growing diocese.”
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.