Published January 02, 2017
Rogelio Livieres Plano, a former bishop in Paraguay who was revered by some for building a successful seminary but who was ousted by Pope Francis amid several controversies, has died. He was 69.
Livieres Plano died on Friday in a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from complications related to diabetes, Asunción Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela told The Associated Press.
Valenzuela said a group of Paraguayan clergy recently visited Livieres Plano in Buenos Aires.
"Happily we were able to say goodbye to our brother Rogelio" before he died, said Valenzuela.
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 diocese properties without Vatican approval and using diocese funds to pay his brother for unspecified services.
Nearly $1 million in debt came to light after Livieres Plano was removed.
Bishop Guillermo Steckling, who took over the diocese last year, acknowledged spending irregularities of his predecessor during in an interview with the AP in May. However, he said the church had no intention of investigating or trying to bring charges against Livieres Plano because the diocese needed to turn the page.
Born in Corrientes, Argentina, Livieres Plano 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, Pennsylvania. He denied the allegations and the case against Urrutigoity and another priest was eventually settled.
Livieres Plano also had a very public dispute with the Rev. Pastor Cuquejo, at the time the archbishop of Asuncion. At one point, Livieres Plano accused Cuquejo of being gay.
Valenzuela said the former bishop will be buried in a cemetery in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires.