Friend of Francis ratified as Bishop despite abuse accusations

The Church ratifies Larrazábal as Bishop of Mar del Plata in the face of "rumours" of complaints of harassment and abuse

Looking ahead to his inauguration on January 20, questions arise in the local Diocese about his appointment and the protocol to be applied.

The Catholic Church has supported Monsignor Gustavo Manuel Larrazábal as the new Bishop of Mar del Plata and dismissed the complaints that arose against him in recent hours for alleged cases of harassment and abuse of power, reducing them to simple "rumours."

The Apostolic Nunciature in Argentina issued a brief statement in which it announced that "the Holy Father and the Holy See have full confidence in the person" of Larrazábal. "We regret the rumours that circulate and that have no basis," they indicated in the text of just two sentences.

The complaints against Larrazábal set off alarms inside the Catholic Church in Mar del Plata and the country due to the alleged crimes committed between 2007 and 2013 that only came to light in the last few hours.

According to what was announced, the victim is a woman from Mar del Plata who has lived in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (Caba) for years and works in an organization linked to the Church.

The appointment of the new Bishop of Mar del Plata began to raise questions in the context of the policy to combat sexual crimes that Francisco entrusted.

In March of last year, after almost four years of experimentation, the procedures to prevent and combat the phenomenon of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church were definitively promulgated.

The most significant novelty introduced in the new version of the legislation refers to "Title II", with the provisions relating to the responsibilities of bishops, religious superiors and clerics in charge of the guidance of a particular Church or a prelature.

The same document establishes that it will safeguard "the legitimate protection of the good name and private sphere of all the people involved," as well as the presumption of innocence for those who are investigated pending their responsibilities being determined.

Originally from the department of Guaymallén, Mendoza, the 62-year-old Claretian missionary was confirmed in the position after Monsignor José María Baliña declined, citing health problems. His inauguration is scheduled for January 20.

Next Saturday, January 20, the diocese will receive Monsignor Larrazábal at the beginning of his pastoral ministry as the new bishop of Mar del Plata appointed by Pope Francis. The celebration will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Cathedral Church and high authorities of the Argentine Church have already confirmed their participation, as well as ecclesial representatives from different parts of the country.

On Sunday, the community of the Catholic Church of San Juan said goodbye in a great celebration in the Cathedral to thank the services of his former Auxiliary Bishop and who will soon take on a new challenge in Mar del Plata.


Background: Francis Chaos in Mar del Plata

See Archbishop Mestre, living scandal and another friend of Francis