Puerto Rico bishop fired for lack of communion with other bishops
Resisted on vaccines, seminary, firm on gender ideology

2022-03-10T08:33:55-08:00March 10th, 2022|Bishops and church leaders|

Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres, who has led the Diocese of Arecibo since 2010, said he had been asked to resign because he “had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico.”

The Holy See press office announced on March 9 that the pope had relieved the 57-year-old bishop of the pastoral care of his diocese. The Vatican did not give a reason for the pope’s decision.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río, S.J., bishop emeritus of Mayagüez, as apostolic administrator of the diocese in the north of the island of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States.

In a March 9 declaration, published on the diocesan website, Fernández Torres strongly objected to his removal.

He said: “I deeply regret that in the Church where mercy is so much preached, in practice some lack a minimum sense of justice.”

“No process has been made against me, nor have I been formally accused of anything and simply one day the apostolic delegate [the pope’s representative in Puerto Rico] verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign.”

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest.”

He went on: “I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico.’”

“It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”

The imminent removal of Fernández Torres was reported on March 8 by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.

The news agency said that the bishop had clashed with other bishops in Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island with six dioceses.

ACI Prensa explained that Fernández Torres had initially resisted sending his seminarians to the new Interdiocesan Seminary of Puerto Rico, approved by the Vatican in March 2020.

The bishop of Arecibo had also supported conscientious objection to compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 in a statement published on Aug. 17, 2021.

He made the intervention after Pedro Pierluisi, the governor of Puerto Rico, issued an executive order that all government and healthcare workers, both in public and private institutions, must be vaccinated, as well as workers in the hotel industry.

In his letter, the bishop said that “it is legitimate for a faithful Catholic to have doubts about the safety and efficacy of a vaccine given that what the pharmaceutical companies or drug regulatory agencies say is in no way a dogma of faith.”

“And that safety and efficacy are relevant and necessary data for moral judgment,” he explained.

ACI Prensa reported that Fernández Torres refused to sign a joint statement issued on Aug. 24 by the Puerto Rican bishops which said that “there is a duty to be vaccinated and that we do not see how a conscientious objection can be invoked from Catholic morality.”

The news agency said that Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader, the apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, reportedly requested the resignation of Fernández Torres, who refused, citing reasons of conscience.

It said that the bishop was summoned to the Vatican but did not make the trip due to the pandemic.

Fernández Torres was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 27, 1964. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Arecibo in 1995, at the age of 30.

In 2007, Benedict XVI named him an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico. Three years later, he was appointed bishop of Arecibo.

ACI Prensa said that Fernández Torres was an outspoken critic of gender ideology, describing new legislation in February 2021 as “religious persecution” and a violation of parental rights.

The above comes from a March 9 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.


  1. Tony Cusack March 10, 2022 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    We are in the false church, ape church, church apostate—pick a prophecy.

    Pray to persevere to the end.

  2. Poly Sci March 10, 2022 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Lack of communion with other bishops??? If this is true, what bishop ex-communicated him? What heresy was he accused of?

    I think the Pope is experiencing dementia.

    • me March 10, 2022 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      You questions are a joke, yes?

      • not heresy March 11, 2022 at 12:32 pm - Reply

        If the questions are not a joke, then someone has seriously misunderstood the article.
        Lack of collegiality is not ex-communication and it is not heresy.
        Why did those thoughts even occur to someone?

      • Poly Sci March 12, 2022 at 1:41 pm - Reply

        Lack of communion is a serious offense within the Catholic Church. Failure to be in communion with a fellow bishop means that one of the bishops is guilty of heresy or some other very similar offense. Failure to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome is to cease to be Catholic.

        Now, Bishop Torres has been accused of not being in sufficient communion with his fellow bishops, although he’s still in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Therefore, he continues to be Catholic, but there also seems to be accusations of heresy being leveled against Torres by his fellow bishops. I’m curious what this heresy is?

        • between the lines March 12, 2022 at 2:51 pm - Reply

          Dude, read between the lines. He refused to meet with the Pope.
          There is no charge of heresy being leveled here.

          • Poly Sci March 12, 2022 at 3:37 pm - Reply

            Dude, refusing to meet with the pope is not an offense that merits removal from office.

            If there’s no accusation of heresy, then why the language about not being in communion with fellow bishops?

        • me March 12, 2022 at 3:47 pm - Reply
          • Poly Sci March 13, 2022 at 10:36 am - Reply

            Thank you for the link. I, personally, take a more historic view of ecclesiology and disagree with the Code of Canon Law if it states that a pope can remove a bishop at will for any reason. Such power would be more ascribed to a patriarch but, even then, I would disagree with an allowance of such total and arbitrary power.

            With that said, this does explain why many bishops, especially those who are not woke, have sent so many priests into ecclesiastical limbo. This visit of Torres by the Nuncio might be much more common than we think.

            If you’re a scared bishop and you receive a phone call from the Nuncio stating that you will have zero tolerance for orthodox priests, would such a bishop risk being “disobedient” if it means being removed from office.

  3. anonymous clergyman March 10, 2022 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    A bishop is a successor to an Apostle. He doesn’t need to “play ball” with the good old boys network or the lavender mafia. He is a shepherd, not a politician. If he was replaced for a legitimate reason, that should be made public. “I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico.’” The Vatican did not give a reason for the pope’s decision. This is so Kafkaesque. Bad clergy should be thrown out and imprisoned, if appropriate. If he were a criminal in Puerto Rico, our criminal justice system would at least advise him of the charges against him and allow him to know who his accusers were. There’s nothing just or Christian about treating clergy worse than criminals. His call for justice and due process should be heeded. Or, do we only call for justice selectively, based on how much we agree with the one who is being denied justice?

    • Dan March 12, 2022 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      “The Vatican did not give a reason for the pope’s decision. This is so Kafkaesque.:” Hard to disagree with your assessment. Can you imagine England under the tyrant Henry VIII? St, John Fisher did not play ball with the rest of the English bishops, yet amongst the whole lot of them only he has St. before his name. Not a perfect comparison, as Clement VII, pope at that time, undoubtedly looked on Fisher has a hero. Neither did St. Athanasius of Alexandria play ball with the Arian bishops, and suffered exile from his See in Alexandria multiple times. He too was backed by Pope Julius I. Bishop Torres, unlike these two, had no friend in the Vatican. If Francis would have made clear the reasons for his decision, it might shed light on why Bishop Torres lost his bishopric. But as in so many cases, this is a pontificate that shuns transparency. And that is a great injustice.

  4. Fr. Richard Perozich March 11, 2022 at 2:56 am - Reply

    Predator bishops have been protected until it became so public that the
    Vatican was forced to act: McCarrick, Zanchetta, Pineda, Ryan, and others.
    A faithful bishop now joins faithful priests in being canceled. A French woman religious is saying that the Vatican is trying to wrest power in the church from the clerics in the church in order to place it into the hands of synods, where
    popular opinion then might be preached over the Truth of the gospel.
    Canceling clerics places all power at the top making a pope the ruler of the
    church rather than its servant to proclaim unity in the Truth of Jesus.
    A bishop is reported to have said that he is reluctant to excommunicate a pro abort politician because he would be disciplined and the politician would have the
    excommunication lifted by Rome, canceling him and promoting more confusion. This is hard to say.
    This is hard to see.
    My brother priests, we do have votive Masses for the pope, for bishops, priests, and for the church. On the appropriate days, I am celebrating such Masses that Christ purify the church in the persons of the pope, the cardinal, the bishop, the priest, the deacon, and all the faithful.

  5. Your Fellow Catholic March 11, 2022 at 5:42 am - Reply

    Pretty clear none of us know the whole story. Canonically Popes had their hands tied behind his back when it came to sanctioning bishops who weren’t serious about the sex abuse crisis. So the abuse of children and abuse of power went on for decades. Bishops are popes of their local church. That’s the way it always has been. Essentially they haven’t been answerable to anyone not even popes of Rome. Francis changed that in Canon law. In this instance it’s not clear what authority the Pope used or whether he acted reasonably. But we have to assume that he is acting judiciously and as discreetly as possible. Clearly he didn’t get along with his Brother bishops. But there had to be more there. The right wants you to think it’s about gender ideology. Don’t listen to them. Francis has spoken out about gender ideology more than any other pope ever. There is something else going on behind the scenes.

  6. unanonymous March 11, 2022 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Where’s your peer-reviewed journal articles to support your contentions and conclusions? If you can’t point to peer-reviewed research in support of what you say, then you shouldn’t be making such statements.

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