Brazil bishop who purportedly shielded pedophiles resigns

(AP) Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of a Brazil archbishop accused of shielding sexually abusive priests.

The Archbishop of Paraiba, Aldo di Cillo Pagotto, 66, resigned under the article of canon law that allows bishops to retire early for “grave” reasons that make them unfit for office. Francis appointed an administrator to run the archdiocese until a permanent replacement is found.

In a farewell letter, Pagotto admitted he had made mistakes and that he had accepted into the archdioceses priests and seminarians who had committed “serious errors.”

He blamed his own “merciful ingenuousness,” and said he did so because he wanted to give them a second chance.

Francis recently issued new procedures to oust bishops who shield pedophiles, amid an outcry from victims’ groups that bishops have long escaped punishment for moving abusers around rather than reporting them to police. The new procedures don’t go into effect until September, meaning Pagotto was forced out under existing procedures in place at the Vatican’s office for bishops.

Italian news agency ANSA said the Vatican in 2015 sent an envoy to Paraiba to investigate and that, as a preliminary sanction, Pagotto was prohibited from ordaining priests and deacons or welcoming any priests or seminarians who had been expelled from other dioceses. [More]