While the bickering about Fr. Pavone and his bishop still lingers in the media air, the most clear-cut, unambiguous act of injustice to a priest in America took place last week in the Diocese of El Paso: Bishop Armando Ochoa stripped Father Michael Rodriguez of the parish of which he was the pastor, San Juan Bautista, and sent him packing to the border town of Presidio, Texas where he will be assistant pastor at Santa Teresa de Jesus parish.
His crime? He spoke the truth.
His source of "offensive" teaching? The Catechism of the Catholic Church and The Bible.
And the real reasons for Fr. Rodriguez' quick departure?
• Bishop Ochoa admitted it himself: He feared that Rodriguez' statements might jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the diocese.
• Fr. Rodriguez had a regularly-scheduled Tridentine Latin Mass that drew Catholics from outlying areas and other parishes, hungry for the tradition that is rightfully theirs and has been unjustly denied for years.
And, if the comments hitting the blogosphere have any veracity, El Paso has a large number of priests, many of them in powerful positions, who are themselves homosexual and will not tolerate Father Rodriguez or any other priest denouncing their secret lifestyle as unnatural or sinful.
How far away is Presidio from El Paso? According to Google Maps, it is 255 miles. That translates into a 4 hour and 19 minute drive through barren, un-scenic desert in West Texas, some of the harshest terrain in the United States.
Attempting to save face on social issues, Bishop Ochoa has, to his credit, issued a press release promoting Respect Life Month In his message, Bishop Ochoa writes:
When the Church teaches on Reverence for life Issues, it speaks consistently on abortion, contraception, the death penalty, embryo Researchy, end of life issues, reproductive technology, persons with disabilities, Euthanasia, racism and discrimination, and sexual morality.
Really Bishop Ochoa? REALLY?
How can Bishop Ochoa possibly expect us to take him seriously as a "consistent" voice when people like Archbishop Dolan speak out against homosexual marriage while bishops like Ochoa punish their priests for doing the same thing in a respectful, intelligent manner?
How can Bishop Ochoa say that his diocese respects life, when he undermines a priest with the courage to speak out against one of the most life-threatening sources of fatally sexually-transmitted disease in society today?
How Bishop Ochoa claim to care about families, when he insists his priest remain silent about a growing trend to undermine families?
This is a scandal and a grave one. It reeks straight from the pit of hell and it cries out to high heaven for justice. The Catholic Church has always been the one, lone institution that spoke out when civilization was destroying itself. The Church has always been the one voice that teaches what is right, not what is popular. When a bishop, an apostle of the Church, silences that voice because he's afraid of losing his tax-exempt status, it begs the question: What master does he serve?
Here's a sample of Fr. Rodriguez' "dangerous" speech. Watch it now, before Youtube pulls the video.
Below is a picture of Fr. Rodriguez' new home, Santa Teresa de Jesus in Presidio. El Paso's loss is their gain.