VATICAN CITY — Bolivian Cardinal-designate Toribio Ticona Porco denied rumors of having a wife and children in secret and threatened legal action if the reports continued.
In a statement released by the Bolivian bishops’ conference May 28, Ticona said the allegations contained in the “false report” first published in the Spanish ‘Adelante la Fe’ blog “do not correspond to the truth.”
“If these accusations persist, I will have no problem in launching a legal complaint for libel against those who promote or spread it,” he said.
Pope Francis announced May 20 that he would make the retired prelate a cardinal along with 13 other churchmen June 28.
Known for his humble beginnings as a shoe shiner and a miner, Ticona served as a missionary priest and auxiliary bishop before being named head of the Territorial Prelature of Corocoro in 1992 by St. John Paul II.
The ‘Adelante en la Fe’ report alleged that while leading the prelature of Corocoro, Ticona lived in the Diocese of Oruro where he “maintained a marital life with a woman” and fathered several children.
The May 28 report also claimed that news of the bishop’s family “was public knowledge” and that the alleged family “were proud to call themselves the wife and children of the bishop of Patacamaya,” referring to a nearby Bolivian municipality.
A follow-up article by the blog claimed they had obtained copies of “firsthand testimony” by witnesses in the Diocese of Oruro that were given to the Vatican nunciature in Bolivia.
In his statement, Ticona said rumors regarding a secret family first surfaced in 2011 and were revealed to be “simple calumnies.”
He also said that although he was “completely puzzled” by the report, he was “willing to defend my honor” and demanded those from the city of Oruro who made the accusations “fully identify themselves.”
“I interpret this calumny as an attack, not so much on my person, but on the person of Pope Francis. They are attacks that come from sources known for their hostility toward the Holy Father,” Ticona said.