Bishop Holley Has Been Removed as Head of Memphis Diocese

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Archbishop Kurtz has been appointed as temporary administrator.

Pope Francis forcibly removed Monsignor Martin Holley , the Bishop of Memphis, Tennessee after the Vatican investigated his diocese. The pontiff appointed Louisville's Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz to govern the diocese until a replacement is found.

The Vatican has investigated the Memphis diocese in June after concerns were expressed from multiple quarters about the substantial changes made by Bishop Holley. The 63-year-old priest was not the only one who experienced a loss of church position. About two-thirds of 60 active priests working in the diocese have been reassigned.

The Vatican declined to state the reason of Holley's removal. In its statement, the Holy See used the words “relieved from the Pastoral governance.” This phrase is used only when a pope uses his powers to remove any bishop who has refused to resign by himself. Archbishop Kurtz is appointed as “ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” or in plain English as the Vatican wants him (Kurtz) to be.

The removal was a well thought out move. The investigation, labeled as an apostolic visitation, was made by two archbishops: St. Paul-Minneapolis' Bernard A. Hebda and Atlanta's Wilton D. Gregory. The two spent a total of three days investigating. The archbishops conducted interviews with both the Memphis location clergy and the area's laypeople. Findings were sent to the Vatican, and nothing was shared outside the church.

Kurtz sent out a statement saying that he is eager to work with the faithful, the curia, and the priests of the Diocese of Memphis so that there could be stability, healing, and peace until a new bishop is appointed by the pope. Holley himself was aware of the implications of the visitation and made a statement in June to the public informing them of the apostolic visitation. He expressed his respect towards the process adopted by the Apostolic Nunciature, and he thanked everyone who participated in it.

Holly was made bishop in October 2016. He was an auxiliary bishop prior to this appointment where he worked under the now disgraced Cardinals Donald Wuerl and Theodore McCarrick in Washington. Both men attended Holley's function where he was officially appointed as a bishop. McCarrick resigned from College of Cardinals earlier in 2018 and retired from all public life after a number of sexual abuse allegations were stacked against him. Wuerl voluntarily resigned amidst allegations of covering up numerous abuse scandals when he served as a Pittsburgh bishop.

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