The El Pasco Times reports:
In a rare move, Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa and Monsignor Arturo Bañuelas on Wednesday sued a controversial priest and his brother, alleging they mishandled thousands of dollars in church money.
The suit, described as an extraordinary measure by the bishop, alleges that the Rev. Michael E. Rodriguez improperly accepted donations meant for San Juan Bautista parish and opened certificates of deposit in his name that were meant for church construction projects.
The suit also names Rodriguez’s brother, David Rodriguez.
The Rev. Rodriguez, who was reassigned from San Juan Bautista Parish on Sept. 20, 2011, to Santa Teresa de Jesus Parish in Presidio, Texas, denied any wrongdoing in a statement released Thursday. The priest was reassigned for becoming politically involved in a recall effort against the mayor and two City Council representatives.
On Thursday, Ochoa said he could not comment on the lawsuit…
Fr Michael Rodriguez responds:
Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Diocese of El Paso has raised serious accusations against Fr. Michael Rodriguez, the brave priest who stood up for the sanctity of marriage at the El Paso city council, by filing a legal action against Fr. Rodriguez due to alleged financial misconduct.
Fr. Michael Rodriguez has released the following statement:
It is unfortunate that Bishop Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso and no longer our bishop, has decided to pursue legal action against me. Such legal action is unjust.
Over the course of 9 1/2 years as the parish priest of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, I poured my heart and soul into caring for this parish, both in terms of temporal goods, and especially spiritual goods. I’m confident that hundreds of my former parishioners will eagerly testify to this.
In his January 11, 2012, press release, Bishop Ochoa stated, “Fr. Rodríguez’s handling and use of donated funds has compromised the financial integrity of San Juan Bautista.” This is not true. Bishop Ochoa’s statement also refers to “Fr. Rodríguez’s mishandling of funds.” Again, this is not true. I have always honored, respected, and made good use of the financial patrimony of San Juan Bautista. I stake my entire reputation on this claim.
On September 20, 2011, I opened my heart to my bishop, like a son to a father, and was completely honest and forthcoming with him as to the financial affairs of San Juan Bautista. I told him everything. He chose not to believe me. For the past four months, my canon lawyer has made repeated efforts to resolve this matter with Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, and he has refused.
I have a great love for my former parish of San Juan Bautista, and my former parishioners. I am ready to fight for and defend them, whatever the cost. I am also ready to protect my own good name and reputation. I have never misappropriated or misused parish funds.
Finally, I am convinced that the real reason for my former bishop’s actions against me is due to my defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching with regard to homosexuality as well as my adherence to the Roman Liturgy of 1962. If necessary, I will present prodigious evidence to support this contention.
I will continue to do my best to be a good and holy priest, no matter the cost. I will continue to proclaim and teach the truths of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the area of sexual morality, no matter the cost. I will continue to adhere to the Ancient Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, no matter the cost. Please keep me in your prayers during this difficult trial. Please entrust me and my priesthood to the loving protection of Sancta Dei Genetrix, the Most Holy Mother of God.
Thank you and may the good Lord bless you as this joyous Christmas season continues.
End of statement.
This news is just coming in as I type this. The El Paso Diocesan website has crashed where the bishops press release originates from. When I am rested early tomorrow morning, I will transcribe the PDF file that I have of this press release in full.
Let us pray for all involved.
Feel free to comment.