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Amid protests, the pope is removing the leadership of the Ecuadorian diocese

Rome (AP) – Pope Francis on Wednesday responded to reports of misconduct and moral failures in Ecuador’s Diocese of Riobamba by not only accepting the resignation of the outgoing bishop but also his apparent successor.

On Wednesday, Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Jul Julio Parrilla Diaz, who turned 75 last month, and his deputy, Monsignor Era Yardo, Miguel Nives Loya, 53.

For Riobamba last year, News was named a “co-author bishop”; he was to be ordained a bishop in February to take up the post when Parila retired at age 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. But a week before the ceremony, News offered Francis his resignation.

Parrilla confirmed Nice’s resignation in a February 19 letter to her flock, reproduced by the Spanish-language Catholic Religion Digital. In it, Parrilla said he understood Nice’s decision, noting that 500 people had signed a letter in his defense.

The resignation came weeks after Julia Serrano, a longtime Spanish missionary in Riobamba, publicly blew up the diocesan government under Parilla, questioning the “moral quality” of his alleged successor.

In an article published in the Catholic blog Redes Christianas in January, Serrano wrote that believers were forced to pay for services in the diocese, that his letters to the Vatican condemning such acts had become deaf. He quoted his priests as saying, “Some priests were priests with children in the diocese, some were recognized and others were not.”

In her February 19 letter, Parila admitted that there were “shadows”‘s sins in the Riobamba church, but insisted that it was still able to “love and serve the poorest, the farmers, the natives.”

The Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference says in a statement on its website that Francisco has appointed Bolivar Piedra, Bishop of Cuenca, as interim diocesan administrator. However, the Vatican did not announce the nomination on Wednesday.

The Ecuadorian bishops said they expressed their appreciation for Parrilla for his service and prayed for Piedra.

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