Vatican removes Bishop Holley from Catholic Diocese of Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bishop Martin Holley has been removed from the Diocese of Memphis, the Vatican said in a statement Wednesday.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville has been appointed to oversee the diocese until further notice.

A Vatican spokesman said that Holley was not removed because of the church’s ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal.

“It’s about management of the diocese,” said Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, “not abuse-related.”

Holley has been the bishop of Memphis since 2016. In June, the Vatican investigated after Holley reassigned many of the priests in the diocese, angering some parishioners.

The Catholic Diocese of Memphis, reached by email Tuesday night, said Holley was “visiting family and taking care of family matters.”

The diocese released a statement Wednesday morning saying Pope Francis relieved Holley of his duties after “several efforts to restore peace and serenity” within the church.

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.”

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