Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop Fernando María Bargalló of Merlo Moreno, Argentina. The resignation of the bishop came following the publication of photographs taken in Mexico while the bishop was on a beach vacation in the company of a woman. The bishop’s resignation was accepted in accordance with Article 401 of the code of canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, which allows the bishop to resign because of illness or other grave reasons. The Pope’s acceptance of the resignation was announced on June 26.
The Pope named Msgr. Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto (75), a retired bishop of San Isidro – a suburb of Buenos Aires. The septuagenarian will bear the title Apostolic administrator: ad nutum Sanctae Sedis. The latter phrase indicates that Msgr. Casaretto will remain in his new position until the Holy See can name a permanent replacement for the disgraced Bishop Bargalló. The latter presented his resignation on the evening of June 25 to the papal nuncio in Buenos Aires.
Last week, Bishop Bargalló fended off suggestions of an amorous escapade in Mexico, explaining that the woman in question was a childhood platonic friend. However, on June 22, the bishop had to fess up to the press that the pair were indeed lovers. He then went to the nunciature to present his resignation. Until he had to admit his failure to adhere to vows of chastity, Bishop Bargalló was widely believed to be on the fast-track to replace Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The scandal emerged when a series of photographs showed the bishop enjoying the embraces of an attractive woman in the surf off a Mexican beach. While the woman was not initially identified in the photographs, it later emerged that she may be 56-year-old business-owner Mariví Martínez Bo. The offending images were broadcast on national television and on social media.
Bishop Bargalló had been elected to two consecutive terms as president of Caritas Argentina: the Catholic Church’s charitable arm. He finished his second term in November 2011. According to AFP, approximately 1,000 Catholic priests asks to be dispensed from the priesthood because of romantic entanglements. In neighboring Paraguay, the recently impeached former president Fernando Lugo, was once a popular bishop and a patron of the poor. Before his election, he asked to be stripped of his faculties as bishop, following revelations of serial sexual encounters with women that resulted in at least one child.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.