Italian prelate resigns amid flurry of charges, including political muscle

Italian prelate resigns amid flurry of charges, including political muscle

Italian prelate resigns amid flurry of charges, including political muscle

Pope Francis hugs Carpi Bishop Francesco Cavina, left after celebrating a Mass in Piazza Martiri Square, in Carpi, northern Italy, for a one-day pastoral visit to Carpi and Mirandola, Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Credit: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni.)

Bishop Francesco Cavina has resigned from his post in the diocese of Carpi following a flood of media allegations accusing him of mingling ecclesial and political affairs during the election of the city’s mayor earlier this year.

ROME – Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina has resigned from his post in the Diocese of Carpi following a flood of media allegations accusing him of mingling ecclesial and political affairs during the election of the city’s mayor earlier this year.

In April an article appeared in the Italian magazine L’Espresso accusing Cavina of “electoral corruption,” saying he participated in a campaign to defame his city’s mayor and accepted favors from the deputy mayor, Simone Morelli, in exchange for helping Morelli get votes from the Church.

Cavina was reportedly being investigated by police for being part of an alleged system of favors and patronage with city officials. According to the magazine, police wiretapped some 10 phone calls in which he was allegedly mingling in political affairs, ensuring a electoral victory to Morelli, who reportedly offered gifts to the Church in exchange.

The report also alleged that Cavina accepted too many gifts from faithful in his diocese, at times receiving quasi-romantic notes from a woman he reportedly referred to as ‘an angel’, and that he intervened using contacts in the Holy See to stop proceedings against a young priest accused of pedophilia.

Prior to his 2012 appointment as bishop of Carpi, Cavina spent around 15 years working as an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State’s section for relations with states.

Police officials have said that Cavina’s case was eventually closed, and he was never formally investigated.

Appointed to Carpi shortly before a major earthquake shook the area in 2012, Cavina resigned from his post June 26, saying the decision was made “out of the love I have for this local church, to which I tried to give everything that was in my power.”

Pope Francis named the archbishop of Modena-Nonantola, Erio Castellucci, as apostolic administrator to oversee the diocese until a new bishop is named.

In a letter published along with the announcement of his resignation, Cavina said his seven years serving as bishop of Carpi, during which he was welcomed by Pope Benedict in 2012 and Pope Francis in 2017, was filled with “intense and painstaking work” which helped him to grow in “awareness, amazement and gratitude.”

However, he insisted that his seven years in Carpi were also “marked by continuous attempts at delegitimization as well as, more recently, telephone intercepts following complaints of alleged crimes.”

Even when his case was closed, the “media ridicule” did not stop, Cavina said, explaining that his decision to offer his resignation came as a result of a lengthy process of prayer and seeking counsel.

“I hope, in some way, that now the spotlight will go out and that necessary calm is restored to the diocese so as to fulfill its mission, and to me the serenity and peace to dedicate myself to the only reason for which I gave my life to the Lord: to announce his marvelous love to brothers and sisters.”

Follow Elise Harris on Twitter: @eharris_it


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