A French Catholic media outlet is reporting that the Vatican stripped a bishop in Congo of his diocese because of “grave management problems” and "strong tensions" within his diocese.
France's I.Media reported that the Vatican took action after all available options were exhausted. The Vatican has not commented on the case or the I.Media report.
The rare step was announced by the Vatican March 31 in its daily news bulletin. The Vatican said only that Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba of Pointe-Noire, Congo had been "removed" from the pastoral care of his diocese.
The bishop had been in the position since 1995, when he was consecrated a bishop at 40 years of age.
The Vatican’s unusual action has raised questions because it did not cite any Church laws as a reason for its action.
There are two routes for resignation backed by the Church’s Code of Canon Law. Either the bishop steps down having reached the 75-year age limit for bishops or resigns early because of poor health or another "grave cause" that renders him less able to fulfill his office.
Grave causes for which the Vatican may request that a bishop step down include mismanagement of diocesan finances, property or clergy. In all these cases, the bishop is asked to resign and the Pope accepts.
Reasons are never specified in the Vatican's press bulletin announcing such resignations, but the appropriate Canon Law section is always cited.
The most recent resignation of this nature was that of Bishop Michael John Malone of Maitland-Newcastle, Australia, whose request was accepted on April 4.
According to "The Australian," Bishop Malone had cited exhaustion following allegations of child abuse by priests that pre-dated his appointment.
For Congolese Bishop Makaya Loemba, no canons were cited when his removal was announced. According to French media, the action was taken because he did not agree with the Vatican's request for his resignation.