Rogelio Livieres Plano, a former Catholic bishop in Paraguay who was revered by some for building a successful seminary but who was ousted by Pope Francis amid several controversies, died Aug. 14 at a hospital in Buenos Aires. He was 69.
He had complications from diabetes, Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela of Asuncion, Paraguay, told the Associated Press.
Bishop Livieres Plano was a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement and spent 10 years overseeing the diocese of Ciudad del Este, a sprawling city in eastern Paraguay that borders Brazil.
He was ousted in September by Francis, and the Holy See has never specified why. The bishop asserted he had been “persecuted” for his conservative orthodoxy by liberal parishioners and fellow bishops.
An Associated Press review in June found that the bishop made several questionable spending decisions during his tenure. Those included failing to use a $350,000 donation for its intended purpose of helping poor families, selling diocesan properties without Vatican approval and using diocese funds to pay his brother for unspecified services.
Nearly $1 million in debt came to light after Bishop Livieres Plano was removed.
Bishop Guillermo Steckling, who took over the diocese last year, acknowledged spending irregularities of his predecessor in an interview with the AP in May. However, he said the church had no intention of investigating or trying to bring charges against Bishop Livieres Plano because the diocese needed to turn the page.
Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano was born Aug. 30, 1945, in Corrientes, Argentina, and spent much of his life in neighboring Paraguay. He studied law at the Catholic University of Asuncion and in 1978 was ordained a priest.
In 2004, he was named bishop of Ciudad del Este. He founded the successful San Jose seminary, notable for the large number of men it attracted at a time of widespread shortages of priests around the world.
However, he frequently clashed with some parishioners on several issues, from seminary management to his decision to invite the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity to the diocese. Urrutigoity, originally from Argentina, had been accused of molesting seminarians in Scranton, Pa. He denied the allegations, and the case against Urrutigoity and another priest was eventually settled.
Bishop Livieres Plano also had a very public dispute with the Rev. Eustaquio Pastor Cuquejo Verga, a former archbishop of Asuncion, charging that the archbishop was gay.