Priests say they were told Cardinal Cupich made apostolic visit before Puerto Rican bishop’s removal

David Ramos   By David Ramos for CNA


Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres. / Diocese of Arecibo.

Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Apr 28, 2022 / 22:34 pm (CNA).

Four priests of the Diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico say they were told that Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago made a secret apostolic visit there prior to the removal of Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres, an investigation by ACI Prensa has found.

Pope Francis dismissed Torres on March 9. The Vatican has not given any explanation for Torres’ ouster, though Archbishop Roberto Octavio González Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has said the move was made due to “insubordination to the Pope.”

The four priests spoke to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, on condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisals. The Archdiocese of Chicago did not respond to ACI Prensa’s requests for comment.

The priests told the news agency that days after Torres’ dismissal, they were summoned with other clergy of the diocese to a meeting with Arecibo’s apostolic administrator, Bishop Emeritus Alvaro Corrada del Rio of Mayagüez.

Questioned about what some saw as Torres’ unjust dismissal, the Jesuit bishop emeritus told the assembled priests and deacons that the Vatican “secretly” had sent Cupich to the diocese as an apostolic visitor to investigate Torres at the end of October last year, the four priests told ACI Prensa.

Cupich visited Puerto Rico between Oct. 25 and Oct. 28 in his capacity as chancellor of Catholic Extension, a U.S. organization that raises funds for projects to help Catholic dioceses in need.

In a statement released on Oct. 28, Catholic Extension said the visit was in connection with an effort to assist Puerto Rico’s six dioceses in the aftermath of recent hurricanes and earthquakes.

“Cardinal Cupich’s visit to various Catholic Extension ministry sites in Puerto Rico was well publicized and neither his purpose nor the content of his meetings was secret,” Catholic Extension said in a statement to ACI Prensa. “To present them as such is false.”

One of the priests interviewed by ACI Prensa said Corrada del Rio remarked that “Cardinal Cupich came, and he came as a person who was going to make his report, he made his report and was here for a few days.”

Another priest told the news agency that Corrada del Río commented that Torres had not revealed “everything he knew” about his dismissal, “because he was aware that there had been an apostolic visitation” by Cupich.

Torres, however, told ACI Prensa that he was not aware of any apostolic visitation.

“I was never informed nor did I have knowledge of any apostolic visitation to the diocese of Arecibo or related to this servant, nor did Cardinal Cupich indicate anything about it,” Torres said.

“This statement covers not only the recent period but the entire time of my service to the diocese of Arecibo as bishop,” he added.

ACI Prensa also sent an inquiry to Corrada del Rio about his alleged statements about a secret apostolic visitation by Cupich.

“I only know that Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, visited the Diocese of Arecibo. My guess is wrong,” he told the news agency.

Lack of due process criticized

ACI Prensa has identified at least two factors that may have influenced the Holy See’s decision to remove Torres.

The first factor was his refusal to transfer his diocese’s seminarians to the new Interdiocesan Seminary of Puerto Rico, approved by the Vatican in March 2020.

The second factor, ACI Prensa found, was Torres’ defense of the right of Catholics to conscientiously object to compulsory COVID-19 vaccination, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Torres refused to sign a joint statement of the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference asserting that “there is a duty to vaccinate and we do not see how an objection of conscience can be invoked from Catholic morality.”

These positions would have led other Puerto Rican bishops to accuse him before the Holy See for an alleged lack of collegiality, ACI Prensa found.

At that meeting with Corrada del Río, several priests criticized the lack of due process in Torres’ removal.

One of the priests noted that no bishop in Germany has suffered a similar fate, despite several statements against the teachings of the Catholic Church connected with the country’s Synodal Path. The controversial process is debating sexual morality, the priesthood, and the way in which power is exercised in the Church, among other issues.

Another priest interviewed by ACI Prensa expressed his frustration against what he described as “the sending of a spy, not an apostolic visitation.”

“I understand that the apostolic visitation is announced. It is not announced to the four winds, but it comes with an agenda,” the priest said.

“We (the clergy of Arecibo) should have been asked, not only the Episcopal Conference,” he added.

“If they did that to the bishop, imagine what they would do to us,” one of the four priests told ACI Prensa.

Another said he felt “sad,” because “I believe that the Church should not act in an arbitrary manner, I think we all deserve a trial.”

“Even if it is me tomorrow, God forbid, I am accused of something as a priest. I would like a clear and fair trial,” he said.

This story originally was published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency. The story was translated and edited by CNA.

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  1. This inflammatory article has one purpose only! To place innocuous statements in order to gain support for the rebellious attacks against the Authority of the Church! It is and has never been a Democracy! There is One Authority and it’s action is not up for discussion by subordinates! If their opinions are requested; fine, but they will be handled by the directive of the Authority! This rebellious activity has appeared throughout history and is very strong evidence of the presence of the Evil One in his eternal efforts to weaken the strength of the Church!

    • Goodness, you seem angry. Be careful not to wear out the “!” key on your computer.

      In response to your tirade, I would point out that the title “Pope” is not synonymous for “absolute religious dictator”. The occupant is quite capable of behaving lawlessly. Francis, in particular, has a penchant for abusing his authority. Also, the faithful retain rights on which no pope my trample.

  2. @John Donoghue, have you ever heard about the abuse of Authority? It’s a mortal sin; and the greater the Authority of the abuser – the greater his sin. There is a due canonical procedure of removing Bishop’s due Authority. The procedure was not followed in the case of Bishop Torres. No legitimate Church Authority acts on a whim and in secret in a shady manner presented here by the witnesses. Every cardinal makes a vow to uphold the Authority of the Canon Law. And Cupich has still not explained his connection to McCarrick. He was the one who blocked McCarrick’s investigation at the USCCB level. That’s not what the Authority of the Church was given for by Christ.

  3. “For everything that you will say in darkness shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.”
    [Luke 12:3]

  4. The truth is that Cardinal Cupich did make a visit to Puerto Ricco among other countries in the region. However, it was not an apostolic visitation as alleged by four priests. A little digging will show that Cardinal Cupich, made a Pastoral visit to Puerto Rico on behalf of Pope Francis following a devastating hurricane. Catholic Extension reported this at the time. It does not serve the Church well to continue publishing – as is done in several rad trad websites – this conspiracy theory.

    • Who of common sense believes your explanation? I have been to San Juan on a number of occasions on Navy cruises. The Puerto Rican People have immense faith. My niece has three children whose father is Puerto Rican. The goal is to break down their apparent delusional and superstitious beliefs and replace them with a modern version.

      • People of common sense would read widely.
        “The pope had sent the cardinal to the hurricane-battered island to make a visit before Christmas to express his deep concern for the people and reach out in solidarity on his behalf to those who are suffering.
        Cardinal Cupich, who also is chancellor of Catholic Extension, tapped the Chicago-based papal society to assist with his trip.
        Making over a dozen stops, the group visited a variety of people and places, including the motherhouse of missionary sisters, an orphanage, and numerous parishes and chapels. They met with the bishops, with scores of pastors, lay leaders and deacons serving the poor.”
        Yes, D Paul, it was a pastoral visit and not one that was assumed by 4 priests.

        • Mal, you can’t seriously post a link to the pro gay Jesuit “America” magazine in support of your opinion. That leftist publication has as much credibility as CNN = none whatsoever.

    • And you are certain that Cupich spent all his time just comforting the afflicted. The devious little hack has a long history of scheming and treachery in the service to the leftist agenda he espouses so tirelessly. There is good reason in this case to be suspicious. Perhaps we should put more stock in what priests on the ground have to say than in someone who unquestioningly accepts the official explanation at face value.

      • I do not know what this Cardinal did all of the time there but from the articles I posted we learn that he did visit a lot of places and met a lot of people.
        I am not a defender of Cardinal Cupich. There are too many stories and opinions expressed about him and so I will not go there.
        My aim here was to show that these 4 priests – I suppose you know much about them and their political views – did not get this particular story right. Even this article here does not make a sound case. It says: Four priests of the Diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico say they were told that Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago made a secret apostolic visit there.” They were “told” apparently by Bishop Emeritus Alvaro Corrada del Rio. This Bishop later said: “My guess is wrong.”

  5. I really hope a criminal case will be made against Cardinal Cupich for covering up sexual abuse, either when from Chicago or when he was Bishop of Spokane or of Rapid City, because that’s likely the only way the American Church will be rid of him and his toxic influence.

  6. Sadly, this makes sense. Cupich has been a major supporter of the abortion tainted “vaccine” to the point that he threatened to suspend the faculties of all Chicago priests who would refuse the jab. Under protests from priests and lay Catholics he changed it to obligatory masks for them on all church property and weekly tests at own cost. Cupich was also directly involved with Pritzker and Lori Lightfoot in imposing draconian covid restrictions in Chicago.

    • “Vaccines do not contain fetal cells, and no abortions are performed to make vaccines. This includes COVID-19 vaccines.
      Some vaccines are made by growing the vaccine viruses in human fetal cell lines. However, the vaccines themselves do not contain fetal cells or tissue. The purification process removes nearly all the cell components so that only trace amounts of DNA and protein may be present in the vaccine.
      Fetal cell lines are used to test and develop many common over-the-counter and prescribed medications, including antacids and cold medications.”
      If we followed your belief, then we would have to stay away from heaps of medicinal products – prescribed as well as over the counter ones.

  7. If Cardinal Cupich was in any way involved in this, without transparency, this would raise a lot of questions about fairness and collegiality. If you have any concerns and want to express your views openly directly to the Cardinal, I suggest we write directly to his personal email address:

    • Yes, that is a good suggestion, David. But, as far as this particular story is concerned, the Bishop who told these 4 priests what he believed, later said: “I guess I was wrong”. This story should have ended there – not perpetuated.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Priests say they were told Cardinal Cupich made apostolic visit before Puerto Rican bishop’s removal – Via Nova Media
  2. Priests say they were told Cardinal Cupich made apostolic visit before Puerto Rican bishop’s removal – Catholic World Report - Puertorico Digital News
  3. TVESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

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