LIMA, Peru — The president of the Peruvian bishops' conference confirmed the dismissal and laicization of an auxiliary bishop because of sexual misconduct, but offered no further details about the case.
Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho confirmed in a statement Sept. 26 that an auxiliary in his see, Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo, had been dismissed "for crimes against the sixth commandment, in a process subject to pontifical secrecy."
The archbishop said the apostolic nunciature in Peru had informed him of the Vatican's decision July 5.
"The sanction that the Holy See has applied to Mr. Gabino Miranda Melgarejo is the strictest of punishments for a cleric: the total loss of the clerical state," he said in the statement, which he signed as archbishop of Ayacucho rather than president of the bishops' conference.
The case became public Sept. 19, when Peruvian jurist and former Justice Minister Diego Garcia Sayan, now president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, mentioned it in an op-ed column in the daily newspaper La Republica.
Since then, media accounts have referred to it as a case of sexual abuse, but the office of the state's attorney in Ayacucho said it had received no complaints and asked the church to provide further information.
Miranda was a member of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which is closely tied to Opus Dei. In a Sept. 21 telephone interview from Rome, Lima Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne, a member of Opus Dei, told a Lima radio station that he was unaware of the accusations against Miranda.
He said that if sexual abuse was involved, as some media accounts have claimed, "the church demands great clarity, transparency and justice," and added that Opus Dei "will never cover up this sort of thing." He also said the situation should not be exaggerated and that the media "should not make firewood from a fallen tree."