Resignation of Mgr Mestre: No, it Wasn't Sex, It Was Much Worse


If a sex scandal had been the problem, Francis would not have dismissed Monsignor Gabriel Mestre, Archbishop of La Plata, he would have protected him, writes (27 May).

The problem was much more serious: Mestre was challenging Francis' power. That's what made Francis furious.

What happened? Mgr Mestre wanted to choose his successor in Mar del Plata in the person of his Vicar General Luis Albóniga. Mgr Mestre himself appointed him Diocesan Administrator of Mar del Plata.

But to Mestre's dismay, Francis appointed Luis Baliña, auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, as bishop of Mar del Plata. But Baliña resigned a few days later, citing health problems. But the real reason was the rejection of his appointment by the clergy of Mar del Plata.

Francis then appointed Bishop Larrazabal, auxiliary of San Juan, as Bishop of Mar del Plata.

A campaign began against Mgr Larrazábal, which, according to some, was orchestrated by Mestre and Albóniga, with the help of the editor of the newspaper La Capital, a friend of both.

The accusation was that Larrazábal had abused his authority over a woman. The campaign was successful, Larrazábal resigned, but was later declared innocent.

Now Francis appointed his former novice, Bishop Giobando, S.J., auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, as apostolic administrator. After arriving in Mar del Plata, he transferred Rev. Luis Albóniga to Jujuy, 2000 km from Mar del Plata.

But this did not calm the situation in Mar del Plata. Members of the young clergy and some women presented the situation as a kind of kidnapping of Father Albóniga. They did this with the help of the media, which were friendly to both Albóniga and Mestre.

During the Chrism Eucharist they intervened with posters demanding answers about the canonical status of Rev. Albóniga. Following this, several important priests of the diocese openly spoke out against the orders of Francis, which were conveyed through the apostolic administrator.

A public demonstration was prepared for next Sunday's Corpus Christi procession.

In the midst of all this, Archbishop Mestre was summoned to Rome, accused, reprimanded and finally dismissed by Francis.

Mestre also reversed many of the bad decisions of his predecessor, Tucho Fernández. Therefore, Tucho may have been involved in the expulsion of his successor from La Plata.