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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Laity ask audience with the Pope to deliver letters/signatures in favor of fired bishop

By John McPhaul

The Friends of Mons. Daniel Committee sent two letters to the Metropolitan Archbishop of San Juan, Mons. Roberto González Nieves, and to the Apostolic Nuncio of His Holiness Pope Francis, His Excellency Mons. Ghaleb Bader for the help necessary to obtain an audience in Rome to be able to deliver to the Pope the more than 30,000 letters and signatures collected, in which they express the pain and consternation of laity, priests and members of other Christian denominations, caused by the news of the removal of Mons. Daniel Fernández as Bishop of the Diocese of Arecibo.

“We have confidence in God that the call of Pope Francis for the voice of the laity to be heard and for them to assume an active role in the affairs of the Church, will be heard, both by Mons. Roberto González, and by the apostolic delegate in Puerto Rico, Mons. Ghaleb Bader. We hope that the result of the letters, sent via email, will be that they will support us in having effective communication with the Holy Father. Our request is not an extraordinary one; we request that like other dioceses, when there is a complaint about a Bishop, a delegate of the Pope is appointed to listen to all the parties of the possible controversy,” said Mr. Carlos Rodríguez, one of the spokesmen of the Committee that supports a fair process for Bishop Daniel.

The letter states that “thousands of the faithful who believe that the feelings of the people of God should have been listened to and taken into account before making the decision to remove Bishop Fernández from his episcopal see. As faithful Catholics, we trust that the Holy Father, in accordance with his call to a synodal church, has a genuine interest in knowing what the laity thinks about what has happened. This feeling gave way to the spontaneous emergence of groups of lay people who have carried out public demonstrations in different parts of the island in support of Mons. Daniel Fernández. The signatories represent one of those groups of the laity, which bears the name of Friends of Monsignor Daniel.”

“We know that every Divine work is put to the test. That is why we are certain that the work carried out by Mons. Daniel Fernández, shepherding the diocese and defending the doctrine of our Mother Church, bothered forces outside the Gospel who brought false complaints to the Holy See, to silence him or derail his support for the great causes that distinguish us as Christians. However, we are grateful for the solidarity with Mons. Daniel, personally expressed at our demonstration on April 9, by the current apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Arecibo, Mons. Álvaro Corrada del Río,” said Mariem Navarro, who was the main organizer of the Demonstration in support of Mons. Daniel Fernández on April 9 in Arecibo.

Although they expect affirmative action from the Archbishop of San Juan and the Papal Nuncio, the members of the Committee emphasized that they will look for other channels provided within the structures of the Church to be able to take their claim directly to Rome.

Though the reason for removing Mons. Fernández from his post was not made public, the move came after Fernández took a stand against compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations contrary to the position held by Rome.

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