An apostolic visitation of Paraguay's Ciudad del Este diocese concluded on Saturday with the visitors suspending a scheduled ordination until they have reached conclusions about their investigation.
“For the time, priestly and diaconal ordinations for the students of St. Joseph's Major Seminary are suspended and it is unknown how long this will endure – it can only be revealed by the Pope,” Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, who led the apostolic visitation, said at a July 26 press conference.
The diocese was scheduled to have priestly ordinations Aug. 15. A release from the diocese clarified that “the ordinations of Aug. 15 have been suspended until the conclusion (of the visitation), not canceled.”
While the visitation took place July 21-26, Cardinal Abril y Castello and Bishop Milton Troccoli Cebedio – who assisted the cardinal in the investigation – will return to Rome to arrange the data collected and present it to Pope Francis.
The conclusion has not yet been scheduled, but is anticipated in September. The apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este was announced by the apostolic nuncio to Paraguay July 2.
Since 2004 the diocese has been led by Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano, who was ordained a priest of Opus Dei in 1978.
Soon after coming to the diocese, Bishop Livieres opened a major seminary for his diocese, in light of the shortage of priestly vocations, and he has been closely involved in promoting.
More than 60 priests have been ordained in the past 10 years from St. Joseph's Major Seminary. According to Italian daily La Stampa, the seminary has “cut the period of priestly formation to only four years, citing the urgent need for new priests.”
Because of this success, in 2012 the diocese opened the St. Andrew Minor Seminary, as well as the St. Irenaeus of Lyons Institute of Priestly Formation.
According to a statement on the diocese's website, the Paraguyan bishops “resisted” Bishop Livieres' new seminaries because they would “break the monolithic scheme of priestly formation” held by the national seminary.
The Diocese of Ciudad del Este has received attention because Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, who was until earlier this month its vicar general, has a history of sexual abuse accusations.
The Argentine native 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.
According to the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, the supposed accusations are mere calumny made by Fr. Urrutigoity's detractors, his “ideological persecutors.”
Concluding its statement about the apostolic visitation, the diocese wrote that “the growth and strength of the People of God in Paraguay was cruelly mutilated following the unjust trial and suppression of the Jesuit missionaries at the end of the 18th century. They also were accused by questionable ecclesiastics in alliance with powerful lobbies and politicians.”
“Those who bet that history will repeat itself in our diocese may be surprised to find that, at this time, the Bishop of Rome is an heir of those Jesuits, slandered and suppressed, disposed to write history in a new way.”