Bp. Ochoa’s Legal Action Against Fr. Michael Rodriguez (UPDATED)

UPDATE IV:  Fr. Michael Rodriguez Releases a Second Press Release

UPDATE III:  Excellent synopsis at the El Paso Times

UPDATE IIBishops Ochoa Press Release 2012 01 11 – PDF

UPDATE I:  Court Documents: Bp. Ochoa Lawsuit Filed Against Fr. Rodriguez – PDF

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.

37 Responses to Bp. Ochoa’s Legal Action Against Fr. Michael Rodriguez (UPDATED)

  • Sadly, I am unsurprised. In the end, the bishop will have to answe to God for doing what he is doing. Pray for our bishops and priests.

    I am absolutely flabbergasted and outraged. :-( The liberals in the Church have decided to do dirty fighting.

  • Warren says:

    Why, on earth, would a christian, let alone a bishop(!), sue a brother in Christ? I am inclined, though not knowing all the ins and outs of the situation, to think that because the bishop has moved the issue into the public legal arena and is making such irresponsible attacks on a priest, who by the way has publicly suffered for defending the Church’s teaching while the Bishop fell short on defending doctrine, that the bishop has an axe to grind.

    We’ll see.

  • Fr. Frank says:

    Meanwhile, at the Archdiocese of Washington, DC blog, Msgr. Pope hides us all for difficulties we may be having in trusting our bishops. What strange times we’re living in. Oremus pro invicem.

  • Art Deco says:

    Dunno. The report in the El Paso papers listed complaints that were disconcertingly specific. Most were penny ante and concerned with proper procedure and good accountng practice but some were serious complaints about missing funds ($31,000 worth) and making his mother a potential beneficiary of $200,000 in parish funds. I would reserve judgment for the time being.

  • “…some were serious complaints about missing funds ($31,000 worth) and making his mother a potential beneficiary of $200,000 in parish funds. I would reserve judgment for the time being.”

    Mehercule! So it’s possible that the Bishop isn’t all wrong! Scandal and corruption grow ever deeper. :-(

  • Andrez Lopez says:

    Some time ago when I was reading the names of the pedophile priests Archbishop Mahony of L.A. was handling in the lawsuits against the pedophile priests, I encountered with the name of a Xavier Ochoa, a pedophile priest of the the Los Angeles Diocese. I kept on tracking the website where this name appeared and found that Xavier Ochoa was sent to Mexico and later on disappeared. The same website also disappeared.

    Soon after Fr. Xavier Ochoa was totally vanished from all websites, we have a bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa consecrated by Archbishop Mahony and sent to El Paso to become the Bishop of the El Paso Diocese. I have always felt that our Bishop has some sort of dubious origin. I have always wondered why he was more affiliated to the Archbishop of L.A. instead of the Archbishop of San Antonio.

    This is a point to ponder.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Pinky,

    Excellent point and I agree with your point.

    Not buts, just wanted say also that what Bishop Ochoa is doing doesn’t look right.

    Matthew 5:25 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; (emphasis mine)

    Matthew 18:15-17 [step 1] If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. [step 2]If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [step 3]But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [step 4]If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; [step 5]and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (steps and emphasis mine)

    It looks as if, just based on the evidence in this post, that Bishop Ochoa skipped [step 3] and went straight to [step 5].

  • AgnusDei says:

    I suggest a comparison:

    What house does the bishop live in?
    What house does Fr. Rodriguez live in?
    What car does the bishop drive?
    What car does Fr. Rodriguez dirve?
    What kind of kitchen does the bishop eat from?
    What kind of kitchen does Fr. Rodriguez eat from?
    What kind of bed does the bishop sleep in?
    What kind of bed does Fr. Michael sleep in?
    What is the total personal wealth of the bishop? (not the diocses)
    What is the total personal wealth of Fr. Rodriguez? (not the parish)

    On a spiritual level –
    Does the bishop guide souls to heaven or hell?
    Does Fr. Michael guide souls to heaven or hell?

    How many hours does the bishop spend in the confessional?
    How many hours does Fr. Rodriguez spend in the confessional?
    How many Masses does the bishop celebrate a week?
    How many Masses does Fr. Rodriguez offer a week?
    How many Eucharistic prayer vigils does the bishop lead?
    How many Eucharistic prayer vigils does Fr. Rodriguez lead?

    Who would you trust with the eternal welfare of your soul?

  • T. Shaw says:

    I’m unclear as to why Bishop Ochoa felt compelled to file a civil (not criminal complaint) litigation action. That is publicly available.

    Were all other avenues exhausted? Canon Law? Was Father Rodriguez given the opportunity to make restitition and do penance? Did Father refuse?

    Here’s what pops into my sick mind.

    Bishop Ochoa has a beef with Father and is damaging Father Rodriguez’s otherwise good name by the revealing these non-public faults, not crimes or he would have gone to the DA, of which he believes Father is guilty. If Ochoa believes Father is innocent such as this is called “calumny.”

    I apologize to Msgr. Pope. Maybe it would have been better had I been not taught how to think.

  • AgnusDei says:

    Perhaps what is truly revealed is a complete distrust of the faithful in the willingness of their bishop to sanctify, teach, and govern them in a truly Catholic way.

    If they had confidence their bishop would let them build a church to truly glorify God
    If they had confidence their bishop would not tax them to fund activities contrary to Catholic doctrine

    there would never have been a need to keep the money from the bishop.

    It would have been the bishop working hard to improve churches in a way that would truly bring honor, glory and proper worship of God.

    I believe the suit filed is really a greater indictment against himself than the holy priest.

  • The more I read about this, the more I think we have two corrupt clerics, one a liberal Democrat looking for any opportunity to slam conservativism and orthodoxy, and the other a money launderer hiding behind the cloak of conservativism and orthodoxy.

    I could be wrong, but……………..

    :-(

  • Dan says:

    This is really the end, the nadir, of episcopal malice. Bishop Ochoa should be as thoroughly disgusted with himself as we are of him.

    This vindictive move by him does, however, throw some light on things, one of which would be his extreme sympathy with the buggery enthusiasts. Indeed it may indicate that he is more than just sympathetic to them.

    Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath for Rome to do anything about this travesty.

  • Gil says:

    This whole thing could be easily be resolved by Fr. Mike if he would just explain his side of the accusation of money mishandling. Most of us are not qualified accountants but this is not rocket science or corporate stock manuevering. If Fr. Mike can explain the missing $31,000 funds or show he did not receive the missing funds, and if he can show that he did not make his mother a potential beneficiary of $200,000 of parish funds then that should end the argument. It is reasonable to ask these questions since he was in charge ? If he cannot properly answer these “ifs” then there may be something to chew on here. Why don’t we ask Fr. Mike to post his comments and any proof or at least say that he is open to an accounting review to prove his point. Until then we might consider giving him the benefit of the doubt and pray that this ends well for him and the Church that has so many black eyes already. We don’t need this (amen ?).

  • T. Shaw says:

    I’m kind of an accountant.

    Give me three or five years of bank statements and canceled checks, paid bills/receipts, three hours, and a fifth of Dewars. I’ll tell you exactly what happened.

  • Pinky says:

    I can guarantee you that you’re not going to get enough information to fairly judge a fraud case on its first day in the news, even assuming that the newspaper assigned their best reporter / forensic accountant to the story.

  • AgnusDei says:

    There seem to be a lot of Catholic faithful demanding money from the bishop
    Is the bishop the culprit here attempting to re-direct attention by accusing another of his own misdeeds?

  • Art Deco says:

    and the other a money launderer hiding behind the cloak of conservativism and orthodoxy.

    I think the precise charges would be some combination of misapplication of property, fraud, and embezzlement, not money laundering. If he is hiding behind a cloak, it is now. I do not think we have any reason to believe his public advocacy was a pose. He has been the pastor there since 2002. If I understand the complaint correctly, the chancery is contending the misapplication of funds amongst parish accounts began in 2009 and the commingling of parish and personal funds began in June of 2010.

    It looks as if, just based on the evidence in this post, that Bishop Ochoa skipped [step 3] and went straight to [step 5].

    In fairness to Bp. Ochoa, it ought be noted that the Bishop of Kansas City is now under indictment for conducting an internal investigation and then informing authorities, instead of immediately informing authorities. (Yes, I realize the issues are different and that this is a civil suit).

  • Fr. Frank says:

    Regarding the 31K and 200K with Fr. R’s mom as beneficiary: It wouldn’t be the first time a pastor and Parish Finance Board have had a trusted third party hold parish funds to keep them from being confiscated by an angry bishop in retaliation toward a troublesome priest or parish. I’m not saying it’s right, of course. I’m just sayin’.

  • Frank Rega says:

    This is so unfortunate, but to be expected from the Vatican II hierarchy. Perhaps good Fr. Rodriquez will end up thinking along the same lines I have been recently, that the Vatican II “Ecumenical Catholic Church” may longer be the Roman Catholic Church, but is a schismatic entity.

  • Frank,

    If the V-II Church isn’t the RCC, then what is? And what exactly is incorrect in the V-II documents themselves? Please be precise. Yes, I agree that the liberalism that’s crept into the Church like a cancer post V-II is satanic, but does that mean that V-II was wrong, or that liberalism is wrong?

  • Ivan K says:

    Welcome to the world of Catholics who are attached to the traditional Mass. This is pretty much the attitude of most Bishops toward Priests who celebrate the Tridentine Rite. That’s one reason why the FSSP has not made much progress, in spite of the fact that they have more seminarians than most large Archdioceses: the average Bishop would rather see a parish close, for lack of a priest, than to hand it over to the FSSP or any other traditionalist group. Bishop Ochoa reminds me Bishop Nourrichard of Evreux, France.

  • Ivan K,

    I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, but as I pointed out elsewhere, the allegation of 31 thousand dollars in missing funds and the allegation of why Fr. Rodriguez made his mother a beneficiary of parish funds both still need to be explained. Fr. Rodriguez’s most recent statement reprinted here at the American Catholic blog site (http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/01/14/fr-michael-rodriguez-responds-to-bishop-ochoa/) does nothing to answer the questions that the law suit brings forth. Rather, it is a list Fr. Roriguez made of 30 spiritual works and 16 temporal works which he asserts that he did. Personally, I found the list to be just a bit more than self-serving. I am NOT, however, saying that Fr. Rodriguez did not do what he asserts he did. Rather, what I am saying is that when Jesus went before Pontius Pilate, he didn’t deliver a list of all the fine spiritual and temporal works that he had done. Perhaps, however, dealing with Federal nuclear regulators in my day job for 30+ years has made me too cynical and jaded, a character defect to be presented in the Confessional (again!).

  • Ivan K says:

    Actually, I believe the parishioners more than the Bishop here, especially since they are the ones who donated this money. The parish was kept in a private account rather than a parish account precisely because they believed that the money would end up in the Bishop’s hands’ and that they wouldn’t be able to use it for parish repairs. The suggestion that the priest was some sort of high roller stealing from the parish is absurd, given everything that has come out about him. The priest listed the works that he had done primarily in order to explain how the money was spent.

  • Ivan K says:

    Look at paragraphs 16 and 17 of Bp. Ochoa’s legal action. The issues are: raising money for building repair without the bishop’s permission and knowledge; and using raised money to ‘build an altar ‘to comply with the ancient norms of the Roman Rite.’

    The Bishop has not proved that any money was used for anything other than parish purposes. His charge is that the parish hid money from him, and used it on projects that he would have blocked. The issue for the Bishop is that this parish somehow got around him in implementing Summorum Pontificum. In doing so, they may very well not have followed all diocesan rules; but that, to me, is understandable given that the Bishop had intended to use those rules in order to block the ‘traditionalisation’ of the altar and sanctuary.

  • Ivan K says:

    I wasn’t able to find any reference to 31,000 unaccounted for. The amount cited in the legal action is $25,000. And, again, there is no claim that it was used for the priest’s private benefit. There is even a suggestion that some of that was used for a family in need. Some, apparently was given to the priest’s brother (5,000, I believe), for ‘unspecified word, even though the brother wasn’t officially employed by the parish. I don’t know–we’ll see. To me it sounds like a Bishop using anything he can in order to harm this priest, and this parish. Small parish finances are by definition messy, and require a good deal of trust. However, when there is any real corruption going on, it’s usually pretty obvious, especially in a parish with such modest resources. There is no obvious malfeasance here.

  • robert t webb says:

    The fact that Fr. Rodriguez named his mother as beneficiary of privately donated funds only means he trusted her to do the right thing in the event he was unable. One is required to do this when you open an account. If this was money that was taken from the Diocese that would be different. It was for the restoration of the sanctuary and the Bishop was trying to obstruct Fathers efforts to improve the Church. Father Rodriguez was not supposed to succeed at San Juan Bautista. He was sent there to disappear. If you go to the sanjuan.webhop.org website you will see how many classes his brother has taught. $5000.00 is chump change when you compare it to the volume of valuable material on that website; which his brother operated and maintained. You can make innocent things look sinister and I think that is what is happening here. What a shame.

  • Thank you for the clarification, Robert. However, Fr. Rodriguez still disobeyed the established financial rules, however honorable his motives. The ends don’t justice the means.

    That said, I would love to have been in his parish. Indeed, he is a man of God, but like all men of God, he has failings. And yes, Bishop Ochoa’s embrace of liberalism and his focused pursuit of trying to ruin Fr. Rodriguez are wrong on so many levels.

  • CF says:

    Good to see a priest not playing partisan politics, but calling attention to elected officials behavior…..seems in line with ppoints 1 and 2 of the 6 point plan of Fr. Denis Fahey….not sure why this became public in secular media…..

  • CF says:

    “That’s one reason why the FSSP has not made much progress, in spite of the fact that they have more seminarians than most large Archdioceses”

    that and they have to rely on the current hierarchy alone……priests of the SSPX at least have 4 Bishops, with the full Holy Orders, to defend them against the wolves…..

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