Catholics in Puerto Rico are rallying behind the island’s embattled archbishop, who is allegedly under pressure from the Vatican to resign amid allegations he protected priests accused of sexual abuse and meddled in local politics.
Archbishop Roberto González Nieves has not confirmed that the Holy See has asked him to step down from his post, but he has still beseeched parishioners on the U.S. island territory to pray for him.
"Many people have approached me and have called my office asking what can they do?” González Nieves said in a statement, according to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia. “On one hand I beg you, please do not send letters to the Holy See with endorsements. On the other hand, I am saying that there is only one thing to do in situations like this: Pray.”
The archbishop described the last two weeks of his as “intense and painful” but added that due to the sensitivity of the matter, he was unable to release any information about the allegations.
Both González Nieves and the Vatican have not confirmed if a letter was sent to the archbishop and the Vatican has not responded to a request for comment from the Associated Press.
Besides asking Catholics in the island to refrain from sending letters of support to Rome, González Nieves also asked local media outlets to give him some space "to respond in a timely manner" to the accusations.
“Any communication or alleged communication between this servant and the Holy See on this matter is internal and confidential,” he said, adding that prayers were needed “for the truth that frees us comes to light in this matter."
Church members planned a rally Wednesday in support for the archbishop. A letter allegedly written by Gonzalez to the Vatican was published by local radio station Noti Uno. In the letter, he defends himself against accusations that he protected priests accused of sexual abuse and meddled in local politics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.