Pope purges bishop who supports conscience rights–In an extraordinary and unprecedented move, raising the issue of abuse of power, Pope Francis has removed a diocesan bishop for what appears to be the prelate’s defense of faithful Catholics opposed to abortion tainted vaccines.
The Most Reverend Daniel Fernandez Torres, Bishop of Arecibo in Puerto Rico—a prelate known for his piety and orthodoxy—was relieved of his office by the Pope on March 9th.
The bishop had been outspoken in supporting the right of conscientious objection to the compulsory vaccination mandate, imposed on public sector employees and health care workers, by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
He said “it is is legitimate for a faithful Catholic to have doubts about the safety and efficacy of a vaccine given that what the pharmaceutical companies or drug regulatory agencies say is in no way a dogma of faith.”
The bishop stressed that “conscience, and its freedom, cannot be considered only as a civil right but is something intrinsic to our Catholic faith,” and went on to say that “following the moral doctrine of the Church, in the face of difficult, sudden and morally debated cases, the shepherds of souls should not impose univocal solutions, but rather, following Saint Alphonsus, we must leave each one to act accordingly to his right conscience.”
A defender of the traditional family, Fernandez Torres, 57, has also opposed a law banning reparative therapy for minors confused about same sex attraction. Concerned about the formation of his future priests, he has even declined to send his seminarians to the island’s interdiocesan seminary.
He was the only Puerto Rican prelate who refused to ban the Traditional Latin Mass, after the Pope issued his edict of radical restriction against the ancient rite.
The bishop said he was accused of “insufficient communion with brother bishops,” and of being disobedient to the Pope. In a statement, the bishop said “I feel blessed to suffer persecution and slander (Mt 5, 10-11) for announcing the truth…”
In this matter, there was no accusation of misconduct, canonical process or finding of guilt. His removal was summary.
In Canon Law and in traditional practice, a bishop can only be separated from his see by death, resignation, promotion or privation of office due to a canonical finding of a grave crime.
While Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle was effectively suspended in 1986, only two bishops in modern times—Australia’s William Morris and the Congo’s Jean-Claude Makaya Loembe, both in 2011—were actually removed by the Pope. In the first two thousand years of the Church, such Papal interventions were, apparently, unknown or unrecorded.
Boston College parents campaign against vaccine mandate—Despite the unyielding refusal of Jesuit administered Boston College to offer any reasonable accommodation to Catholic students with ethical or medical objections to the university’s vaccine mandate—which now includes compulsory booster shots—some BC parents are mounting a petition drive and telephone campaign to oppose the school’s arbitrary and uncatholic policies.
Their persistence was the subject of a recent Catholic News Agency story by reporter Joe Bukuras. These parents are to be commended for their fortitude and for their dedication to the well being of their sons and daughters.
While citing Pope Francis and Cardinal O’Malley in support of vaccination, the leadership of Boston College has repeatedly ignored the December, 2020 instruction from the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which states that “…practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
According to the Mothers of Boston College, the university has denied all requests for religious exemptions, while medical exemptions have been refused, even to students who suffered serious side effects from vaccination.
The President of Boston College, Father William Leahy, they maintain, has failed to respond to a single email or telephone call from parents, including from parents who are physicians.
Catholic “progressives” have spent the last half century posturing about conscience, dialogue and dissent. Once in positions of authority however, they become ruthless authoritarians prepared to use their bureaucratic power to crush anyone who opposes their despotic impositions on those under their control.
If you wish to support these brave parents in their principled struggle, you may click on this link to sign the petition against the mandate. As an alumnus of Boston College, I was grateful to have the opportunity to do so.