On August 18, 2021, Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva, 60, of the Catholic diocese of São José do Rio Preto, resigned. The resignation happened days after a video leaked where he is seen playing with his genitals.
Around the same time da Silva submitted his resignation, he also acknowledged that the man in the video is him. He also believes the video was leaked by someone “living with him.” The bishop added that he would be working with his attorney and the local police to rectify the matter.
The Apostolic Nunciature, the diplomatic arm of the Vatican, announced that Pope Francis had accepted Bishop da Silva’s resignation “from the pastoral government of the Diocese of São José do Rio Preto.” Although the bishop has “resigned,” there is no apparent disciplinary action. Instead, his resignation is limited only to his function in the governance of his diocese.
This is not the first case the Brazilian bishop was involved in a sex-related scandal. In 2018, da Silva was alleged to have ignored increasing reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. A local Brazilian news outlet also claimed that the bishop was alleged to have “exchanged sexual messages with an adolescent in the same year.” In 2015, da Silva was investigated for financial fraud for directing funds to his driver, who is rumored to be his lover.
Almost a decade ago, Pope Francis’ famous response regarding homosexual priests sent a positive message, “who am I to judge?” he said. Even with the current pope’s wavering stance on the LGBTQ+ community and same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church’s policy has not seen any significant improvement on the matter. The Vatican remains unforgiving of gay priests and has kept its opinion closed regarding same-sex marriage.
With da Silva’s current scandal that involves homosexuality, the church, in an unprecedented decision, accepted his resignation in less than a week. This process usually requires deliberation and intervention from a lot of stages.