There has been a big shake up for Mid-South Catholics. Pope Francis has ordered the removal of Bishop Martin Holley, just two years after he took over the diocese.
The Vatican released this statement in a news release Wednesday:
“The Holy Father Francis has removed from the pastoral care of the diocese of Memphis, United States of America, H.E. Msgr. Martin D. Holley, and has appointed as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the same diocese H.E. Msgr. Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville.”
Bishop Holley is reportedly being forced to retire after refusing to retire on his own following an investigation into the diocese.
Local 24 News reported in June, high-ranking officials within the Catholic Church were in Memphis to investigate Bishop Holley.
The findings of that investigation have been kept under wraps, but complaints involved various financial discrepancies, Holley’s role in closing 11 Catholic Schools and his decision to reassign more than half of the priests within the diocese.
Reports say Holley will no longer be able to reside in the chancery past Friday.
Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the local diocese would only say, “Bishop Holley is visiting family and taking care of family matters. There is nothing to comment on at this time.”
Wednesday morning, the Memphis Diocese released the following statement:
Following the apostolic visitation of June 2018 to the Diocese of Memphis and its Bishop, called for by the Holy Father, and after several effort to restore peace and serenity within the same Particular Church, today his Holiness Pope Francis has relieved of his responsibilities as Ordinary the Most Reverend Martin D. Holley. Pope Francis has appointed as Apostolic Administrator His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Metropolitan Archbishop of Louisville.
This appointment is effective immediately.
The announcement from the Holy See asks for prayers for the Diocese of Memphis during this time of transition and for Bishop Holley as he departs from Memphis.
In a statement, Archbishop Kurtz said:
“I humbly accept the appointment of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to serve as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Memphis, while remaining Archbishop of Louisville. I am eager to work with the priests, curia, and faithful of the Diocese of Memphis to promote stability, peace, and healing until Pope Francis appoints a new bishop. I have admired the Church in Memphis for many years, particularly from my time as Bishop of Knoxville.
I ask for prayers for Bishop Martin Holley as he departs from this local church and for the entire Church of Memphis. Let us pray for one another during this time of transition.”