Venezuelan Bishops: Accusations Against Prelate Are Attack on Pope Francis

Pope Francis ponders during the Conference of the Diocese of Rome at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano) on May 9, 2019 in Rome. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

ROME — The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have thrown their support behind the Vatican’s number-three man, Archbishop Edgar Robinson Peña Parra, claiming accusations of sex abuse leveled against him constitute an attack on Pope Francis.

In July, the former papal nuncio to the United States alleged that the “third most powerful person” in the Vatican curia had been credibly accused of sexual abuse prior to his appointment, which Pope Francis “essentially ignored.”

Pope Francis raised the Venezuelan archbishop to the position of “Sostituto” of the Vatican’s secretary of state last year, despite having received a “terrifying dossier” from a group of lay faithful from Maracaibo, Venezuela, chronicling the archbishop’s history of “terrible immorality,” said Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

The archbishop made these assertions in an interview with the Washington Post, but the Post omitted them in the published version of the interview. The missing passages were released soon after by LifeSiteNews.

“Edgar Peña Parra was accused of having seduced, on September 24, 1990, two minor seminarians from the parish of San Pablo, who were to enter the Major Seminary of Maracaibo that same year,” Viganò declared, a case that was reported to the police by the parents of the two young men, although apparently without effect.

A second accusation against Peña Parra concerned his alleged involvement in the death of two people, “a doctor and a certain Jairo Pérez, which took place in August 1992, on the island of San Carlos in Lake Maracaibo.”

The two men were killed by an electric discharge, and their corpses were found naked, “with evidence of macabre homosexual lewd encounters,” Viganò stated.

The Venezuelan bishops have responded to these accusations, calling them “slanderous” and insisting that they were motivated by a desire to undermine the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Those who have spread these rumors in Europe and other parts of the world, “under the appearance of serving the truth, conceal other motives,” the bishops declare. “Not only do they attack a person, they also intend to denigrate the institution and undermine the credibility of Pope Francis, creating doubts by showing that his teaching and actions are marked by poorly choosing his coworkers.”

The bishops go on to assert that the charges brought against Archbishop Peña Parra stem from hostility toward the pope’s economic and ecological message.

“Those who act this way, from prolonged positions of well-being and privilege, seek to disqualify the one who has clearly pointed out that the impoverishment of the masses and the destruction of our common home sink their roots into an unbridled economy lacking all humanity,” they assert.

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