The Brazilian bishop of São José do Rio Preto, a city of more than 400,000 inhabitants in the state of Sao Paulo, has handed over his office. The resignation of Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva, 60, was accepted by Pope Francis on Wednesday August 18.
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At the same time, the Pope appointed Archbishop Moacir Silva, archbishop of the neighboring diocese of Ribeirao Preto as apostolic administrator to ensure the transition before the appointment of a new bishop.
First auxiliary bishop of Sao Paulo since 2005 and then appointed bishop of Sao José do Rio Preto by Benedict XVI in September 2012, Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva is involved in a sexual affair widely commented on by the Brazilian press.
Several surveys in the past
He submitted his resignation to the Pope after a compromising video was posted on WhatsApp groups and social media in which he was engaging in inappropriate sexual practices. Asked about these images, the bishop admitted that it was indeed him, while wondering how the private video could have been broadcast.
According to information from the Brazilian press, Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva has already been the subject of several investigations, in 2015 and 2018, for allegations of sexual misconduct and because he was suspected of having covered cases of sexual assault in his diocese. Charges which had led to investigations within the Brazilian Church at the request of the Vatican. But, in both cases, no charge had been brought against the bishop of Sao José do Rio Preto.
The Brazilian Church and the abuses
The resignation of Mgr Tomé Ferreira da Silva comes a little over two years after that of Mgr Vilson Dias de Oliveira, bishop of Limeira, already in the State of Sao Paulo. The resigning bishop was under investigation by Brazilian civil justice on suspicion of covering up sexual abuse and extortion from priests.
In 2016, it was the Archbishop of Paraiba, Mgr Aldo di Cillo Pagotto, who resigned under the scope of a canonical investigation when he was suspected of having welcomed priests and seminarians accused of sexual abuse into his diocese. on minors. More recently, another case rocked the Church in the country, which is estimated to number around 120 million Catholics. The press revealed in January that a police investigation was underway against Bishop Alberto Taveira Corrêa, 71, Archbishop of Belém, accused of harassment and sexual abuse.
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Four former seminarians lodged a complaint in August 2020 for facts that allegedly took place until 2014 when the alleged victims were between 15 and 20 years old. The archbishop, who wanted to restore ” the truth“, is still in operation.