Fr. Michael Rodriguez Responds to Bishop Ochoa

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The following is a press release from Fr. Michael Rodriguez concerning the unprecedented legal action taken by (his) Bishop Armando Ochoa against him (I formatted the press release to eliminate spaces, content has not been touched or changed):

On January 12, 2012, Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso, filed a lawsuit against me.  Once again, I want to reiterate that his action is dishonest and unjust.  I pose the simple question:  over the course of the past 9 ½ years, who is the one who has been laboring, struggling, sacrificing day and night, and caring for the spiritual and material well-being of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church?  Has it been Fr. Michael Rodríguez or Most Rev. Armando Ochoa?  Based on the factual record, which of the two has greater credibility when it comes to protecting and furthering the spiritual and material patrimony of San Juan Bautista?


Over the course of my 9 ½ years as parish administrator of San Juan Bautista, by the grace and mercy of God, the following spiritual goods were “achieved”:

1) Restoration of the glorious Traditional Latin Mass

2) Gradual restoration of the Catholic Church’s sacred language, Latin

3) Gradual restoration of Gregorian Chant and sacred music

4) Devout and worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist on the tongue and kneeling, accompanied by preparatory and thanksgiving prayers

5) Silence at Holy Mass and a real catholic sense of the sacred

6) Modest dress and reverent behavior at Holy Mass and inside church

7) Two daily Masses at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

8. Holy Hours with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at least four times per week

9) Regularly-scheduled Confessions at least five times per week;  Confession available at any time, day or night, by appointment

10) Stations of the Cross every Friday in both english (12:30 p.m.) and spanish (6:45 p.m.)

11) Parish Lenten Missions in both english and spanish

12) Numerous vocations to the priesthood and religious life

13) Christ the King, Corpus Christi, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Processions through the neighborhood

14) In addition to the standard Catechism and Sacramental Preparation classes which most parishes have (at San Juan, these classes took place on Saturdays and Sundays), there were Classes in the Faith  for the entire parish (in both english and spanish) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  I personally taught one class every Tuesday evening, and two on Thursday evenings

15) Promotion of many Marian devotions, e.g. parish novenas to Our Lady of Sorrows and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, First Saturday prayers to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

16) Promotion of the Message of Our Lady of Fatima

17) Daily recitation of the Holy Rosary

18) First Friday devotions

19) First Saturday devotions.  I personally led these every First Saturday of the month from 6:30-7:30 a.m.

20) I gave a monthly “mini-retreat” (in spanish) on First Saturdays for the Guadalupanas and other interested parishioners from 8:45-11:30 a.m, consisting of the Holy Rosary and a workshop on prayer.

21) Special First Saturday of the month Mass at 1:00 a.m. to help the faithful fulfill the requirements of the First Five Saturdays.

22) Holy Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. prior to Holy Mass

23) Holy Rosary every Saturday evening at 4:30 p.m. prior to Holy Mass

24) Different devotions and chaplets prayed after every weekend Mass

25) All-day Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on First Fridays

26) All-night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on First Fridays

27) Devotion to the Precious Blood on Thursday nights at 11:00 p.m.

28) At least weekly, I personally took Holy Communion to the sick & homebound of the parish

29) A daily Procession through the neighborhood on the Rogation Days (the three days prior to Ascension Thursday)

30) Promotion of abstinence of meat on every Friday of the year and promotion of the penitencial aspect of every Friday of the year

Tragically, since my removal from San Juan Bautista on Sept. 20, 2011, it is not an exaggeration to say that none of the above exists anymore at San Juan Bautista.  It is absolutely shocking!  Masses have been cancelled.  Confessions and Holy Hours have been cancelled, etc.  Can anyone, anyone, seriously think that the diocese is carrying out its “sacred duty” to safeguard the spiritual goods of San Juan Bautista anywhere close to what Fr. Michael Rodríguez was doing?


San Juan Bautista is a poor parish, and the weekly Sunday collection before my arrival in May 2002, was usually less than $1,000.00.  Over the course of my 9 ½ years as parish administrator, by the grace and mercy of God, the following building projects were achieved:

1) A beautiful, new tabernacle

2) An initial renovation of the sanctuary including a new addition for the tabernacle, new statues, a new communion rail, and a new marble floor

3) The installation of two magnificent, new Church bells

4) Complete renovation of the parish kitchen, including a brand new tile floor and new cabinets

5) Renovation of the parish hall storage garage with new cabinets

6) A completely new tile floor for the parish hall

7) A new porch for the parish hall

8. A brand new roof for the Church

9) All the Church and parish hall air-conditioning units were replaced with new ones

10) Exterior renovation of the Church:  two new side entry ramps to the Church with railing

11) Exterior renovation of the Church:  a new side-porch to the Church

12) Completely new asphalt for the entire Church parking lot

13) New exterior lighting for the Church and parking lot

14) An entirely new storage building-complex behind the rectory

15) A beautiful new GROTTO to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe with multiple shrines, a fountain, an altar, plaques, gardens

[still in the process of being completed when I was transferred]

16) The renovation of the sanctuary and a new high altar according to the norms of the ancient form of the Roman Rite

[still in its intial stages when I was transferred]

Can anyone, anyone, seriously think that the diocese is carrying out its “sacred duty” to safeguard the temporal goods of San Juan Bautista anywhere close to what Fr. Michael Rodríguez was doing?

Please continue to entrust me to loving protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother.

Fr. Michael Rodríguez

Parochial Vicar, Santa Teresa de Jesús Catholic Church

Presidio, TX

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  1. As Fr. R’s defence reads from here, he may be pushing the Latin Traditional Form too much. and seems to be overruling the desire of the US bishops to make standing the norm and the congregation with the choice for the ancient practice of receiving on the hand or the corrupt medieval practice of the tongue which is how babies are fed and can be quite unsanitary, I know both are the choice of HH BXV1 but that is his preference as bishop, not a demand as Pope. Reference to estoring the church building to the 2ancient foms of the Roman Rite” is open to question it would seem. The papal altar in St Peter’s Basilica which faces the people with a separate Sacrament chapel seems to be accepted. I seem to recall that the reserved Eucharist was removed from Cathedral high altars for epsicopal celebratons back there in the pre-Vat 11 days. The Eastern Church does not have the reserved Eucharist for prayer. That is perfectly legitimate for them but allright for the Latin Church. One may have to examine the definition of “reverence ” and not equate Latin Text w, but ut does highlight different ways of expressing Eucharistc devotion. Proper “reverence” is tricky, too many dismiss the Novus Ordo as intrinsically irreverent, and heretical for the extremsists. Father R is undoubtedly a very zealous and sincere but loyalty to one’s bishop is very important unless there are clear abuses of authority on his part which can be resolved by speciifc means

    IF there are fnancial iregularites as one report had it, one presumes that an audit of the books would solve that instead of being a public matter.

  2. Did Jesus give Pontius Pilate a list of reasons – all the good spiritual and temporal works he had done – for why he shouldn’t be crucified?

    There is little doubt in my mind that Bishop Ochoa is a flaming lavender liberal Democrat, but should Father Rodriguez even defend himself knowing that Christ (who was always right) never did so.

  3. Astute observation, Art Deco. It almost seems as though Fr Rodriguez is saying, “Look how many good things I have done,” and that becomes an excuse to ignore that he did them in the wrong way. I post this as a comment on Colleen Hammond’s web site:

    …there is something essential and primary that we need to look at in all of this. The suggestion that perhaps because Father Rodriguez’s intentions were good, his financial errors can be overlooked is incorrect (no, I am NOT accusing him of fiscal malfeasance – I am using this as an object lesson). I learned this from the industry in which I work: commercial nuclear power. In my job it is not sufficient that I do the right thing, but in the wrong way, nor is it sufficient that I do in the right way the wrong thing. I am required to always and everywhere do the right thing in the right way. If I do the right thing in the wrong way, then my failure calls into question before our Federal regulator, the US NRC, whether I even did the right thing in the first place to begin with. And if I obey all the regulations, codes and standards, but have done the wrong thing, then I call into question the engineering practices, procedures and programs that I used which I had claimed were the right way: are they really the right way when the result that I achieved is wrong?

    Now of course everyone will say, “Hey, Paul, you deal with the fires of Creation in nuclear reactor cores, and what you do can affect hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives, so of course you always have to do the right thing in the right way.” While that statement makes unfairly grandiose what impact my work can actually have (I am really not nearly that important), my response to this is simple, “Why wouldn’t the same be true of the oversight being provided for people’s eternal souls.” Using the excuse that money has nothing to do with that is to ignore what St. Paul wrote in one of his epistles, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” As a nuclear engineer (my actual job title is longer and less comprehensible) I don’t have the luxury of telling a US NRC inspector (or even my own boss at my current job) that “I did the right thing.” The inspector could bring civil or even criminal charges against me regardless of the happy outcome I achieved, and my boss would surely bounce my behind on the pavement outside my place of work. And if I had sequestered 31 thousand dollars outside of my department’s allocated funds, or made my mother a beneficiary of company funds, then you can bet criminal charges would be levied and I would be officially barred by the US NRC from ever working at a commercial nuclear power plant ever again. BTW, that has happened to some now unhappy jokers who thought they could play fast and loose with the regulations – you don’t want your name and photo on the inspection enforcement page at the web site of the US NRC.

    As Catholic Christians we are always and everywhere required to do the right thing in the right way. No excuses. No rationalizations. No “Bill Clinton” waffling.

  4. I haven’t been following this case particularly closely, but my reaction to this statement is the same as Art Deco. This is a very nice non sequiter, but has nothing to do with the actual charges against him.

  5. This is a very nice non sequiter, but has nothing to do with the actual charges against him.

    Exactly… I haven’t been following this either, but, if anything, this response supports rather than refutes the charges.

  6. Consider the lawsuit
    It dimishes the teaching authority and the slavific ability of the Roman Catholic Church

    Why was the lawsuit filed?
    Was there no way to resolve the differences without making the difference public?
    Was it that priest who in his recalcitrance forced the bishop into this action? And if yes, what would the motivation be?
    Was it the bishop who in his pride who fully engaged the act?

    Consider: The renovations took place over a nine and a half year period. Is it possible that the bishop would be unaware for that long? If this was a serious concern of his, is it likely he would have waited until over a month after he stopped being the bishop of El Paso to file the lawsuit? Or is it personal? The bishop will soon be officially installed in Fresno, and will no longer be the administrator of the diocese of El Paso. He needs to inflict as much personal damage as possible before he is no longer able to. And the cost to the diocesan faithful and the universal church be dammned.

    If a string of San Juan Bautista parishoners is led before a judge in open court, what will their testimony be? Will they say they trust the priest with their money? Or will they say they trust the bishop? What would have inspired them to make their checks out to the priest as opposed to the parish? May personal conclusion is that I have stopped giving to my own bishop’s yearly appeal because I don’t trust him to make Catholic decisions. It makes sense to me that other Catholics in other dioceses would reach the same conclusion. Anyone who is truly Catholic prays incessantly to our heavenly father to send us not the bishops we deserve, but those who can take care of our souls, because the great majority of American bishops are possessed with a great poverty of fortitude, and bow lower before the godless laws of the United States than before the eternal Laws institued by Almighty God.

    My prayer: My God grant the vacant See of El Paso a holy bishop soon, that he may resolve the mess for the greater glory of God and the triumph of the Holy Catholic Church.

  7. Father Rodriguez is listing the material and spiritual thing he did for the parrish. Let the lawyers talk now. And father Rodríguez, if you want to really remain catholic, come any time to the Fraternity of St. Pius X. We need priests just like you, to keep the faith and Tradition alive. Modernist Rome is beyond redemption.

  8. $1000 / wk x 52 wks = $52,000 yr
    Less expenses, salaries, utilities, upkeep per yr.

    What a common household budget for a family would likely be.

    How the improvements were made – even with volunteer labor – is a good stmt.

    So many opportunities for worship and Sacraments for the parishioners is also a good stmt. And rare. How are these people now? I just wish this flash of oversight were in place for government spending instead of for a parish feeding souls so well.

  9. I have not been following this closely, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong. It is my understanding that the issue had to do with the money collected for various renovations was kept in a private bank account rather than in the parish account. There is no suggestion that any money was used inappropriately–i.e. for anything other than renovations. However, the Bishop is arguing that the parish was attempting to keep money it had collected from the Diocese–i.e. that the Diocese had not received its ‘cut’ of the money collected by the parish. Now that money has ALL been taken by the Diocese, but the parishioners want it back, since they had not donated to the diocese but to the parish renovation fund.

  10. “Hermit Talker”

    Summorum Pontificum makes it clear that every ‘stable group’ of Catholics who want the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite have that right, irrespective of a Bishop’s wishes. It is Church Law. If Bishop Ochoa wants to deny these people the EF, he is violating the law of the Church. Unfortunately, far too many Bishops have decided simply to ignore Summorum Pontificum, and to act with hostility towards any members of their dioceses who want the EF. We have, in fact, a silent revolution within the Church of modernist Bishops who have nothing but contempt for the Holy Father and tfor Catholic Tradition.

  11. I find it amusing that Fr. Rodriguez accuses Bishop Ochoa of not obeying Summorum Pontificum when he himself arguably does not obey it. As he has stated in an interview with the Remnant, he does not believe as the Holy Father states that there is no contradiction between the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman rite, and does not agree with the Holy Father that it would be wrong to as a matter of prinicple refuse to celebrate Mass using the ordinary form.

    Also, the instruction Universae Ecclesiae states that:

    “19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.”

    Arguably under this, Father Rodriguez could be forbidden to use the extraordinary form.
    Finally, by teaching that the extraordinary form is the ‘true Mass’ and that the ‘novus ordo’ is a corruption, he is going against the ordinary magisterium of the church himself. So much for the ‘faithful’ priest Father Rodriguez. His bragging of his accomplishments, don’t justify his disobedience, seeding of confusion amongst the faithful, and financial misconduct. With Shepherds like these, who needs wolves?

  12. The facts are not known to me. I have absolutely no idea if Fr R. imposed the Latin Extra. Rite on his people, nor about his other theology of Church and whether he in fact is a heretical dissenter from the Bishop of Rome and the Church Catholic. As to finances, there is absolutely no evidence as to that. of which I am aware. So I am off the record on this topic at this ;point

  13. Dearest Father,
    Having lived in a religious community during the 1970’s, being forced to attend a “Mass” using pizza and beer, being judged as “dangerous” for practicing private devotions, and that’s only the beginning, I praise God for your priestly service so full of zeal for souls. I promise my prayers as you endure these present trials and remind you that the devil’s anger against a faithful priest is greatly aroused. This time, the scandal is not because of any immorality but the scandal of a Shepherd who appears to have fallen prey to the devil’s intention to destro the Church from within. A passing thought, may the green eyed monster of jealousy be at work here? Stay vigilant before the Most Blessed Sacrament!

  14. OK, I’ll bite, please explain your meaning in saying that the Catholic Church is “beyond redemption.”

    That’s a pretty 19th century Protestant statement there. My Lutheran, UMC, and Presbyterian friends wouldn’t say anything so bold.

    Is this your view alone or the official stance of the Fraternity of St. Pius X?

    I haven’t followed this story and only now did some reading. Obedience is hard. It is made all the harder when one is a celebrity. Maybe the Bishop is wrong. Maybe he is being unreasonable. Maybe there is a lot more going on than we can see from the outside. Regardless, a priest obeys solong as doing so does not compromise his duty to God. He obeys even when he disagrees, for what is “obedience” if it applies only tothe things we agree with?

    Counseling priest to abandon his duties and follow you into schism can’t be a Christian act.

  15. Alfred Rambit,

    Father Rodriguez does celebrate the OF every day. The FSSP, ICK, and other traditionalist groups of priests never celebrate the OF, but they are not considered to be in violation of that paragraph of SP. Refusing to celebrate one of the rites isn’t a claim about its legitimacy or validity.

    How about the reverse. How many priests refuse to celebrate the EF? Are they in violation of SP? If these two forms of the Roman Rite are equal; if the EF is to be actively promoted…why are bishops acting with such hostility? It seems to me that they are the ones in rebellion against the Holy Father.

  16. Alfred Rambit,

    Just another example: The Eastern Catholics never celebrate ithe Roman Rite. Does that mean that they believe it to be invalid?

  17. Ivan K,

    “Father Rodriguez does celebrate the OF every day. ”

    No, he doesn’t. Read the ‘Remnant’ interview.

    As for FSSP, ICK, and Eastern Catholics, their preists do concelebrate the OF, and they do not speak of the OF as being inferior, and the EF as being the ‘True Mass’.
    Refusing to celebrate the OF is a violation of that paragraph if the reason for this refusal is that the OF is a deficient or inferior rite, is not the ‘true mass’, is not ‘Catholic’, etc.

    “How about the reverse. How many priests refuse to celebrate the EF? Are they in violation of SP? If these two forms of the Roman Rite are equal; if the EF is to be actively promoted…why are bishops acting with such hostility? It seems to me that they are the ones in rebellion against the Holy Father.”

    That’s my whole point. It’s silly for Fr. Rodriguez and others to criticize those who refuse to follow Summorum Pontificum if they themselves refuse to follow it. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

  18. Some bishops and presbyters and the parish councils may consider resources that, given the distribution of presbyters to people today, and the need to provide music and lectors and other liturgical aids for a proper celebration of the Novus Ordo and the Extra’ary form of the Eucharist. There may not be enough of any required elements to provide adequately for all needs. It is also a continuing difficulty that as I read the story around the world, many Latin Mass devotees are in fact not in agreement with the Pope and Catholic Church as orthodox and authentic. I find them getting more evangelical “protestant” in their supposed definition and loyalty to what is orthodox.

  19. Please avoid the silly. One knows who are in union with the Bishop of Rome, who are friendly but not in commmunion on all dogma and of course who are at the sign or get out stage!”

  20. The fact that this bishop took the scandalous step of going outside the church to attack Fr. Rodriguez says ALL any of us need to know. First he destroys everything the good priest created and sends him off to the hinterlands but then he must destroy the man’s reputation – and do it outside the church!

  21. Given Fr Rodriguez disobedience in financial matters, and given the Bishop’s flaming liberal disobedience, perhaps both ought to read today’s Old Testament reading from 1st Samuel 15:16-23. The late Father Al Lauer has an excellent homily on this which is well worth the 14 minutes to listen to. None of us are pristine when it comes to obedience, especially me. Here’s the web link to the audio recording – hope it works!

  22. I read a comment following an earlier article about this controversy. Someone posted a comment that Bishop Ochoa might be the priest, Xavier Ochoa, who fled from Santa Rosa, Calif to Mexico. The Bishop is not that priest. While the internet can be very helpful in researching things, posting such erroneous information without completely verifying such insinuations should be strongly avoided.

  23. Sounds like another example of the “sharing/caring” liberal bishop cracking down on Tradition in defense, no doub, of NO novelties…..bring up the first 1900 yrs of Catholicism, watch the smiling drop……..

  24. Interesting the dislike in some comments of “the Latin Rite”……does this mean the Mass immorial?
    Also, the comments on “democrats” attributed to the Bishop…must we use inadequate and outdated secular, american terms? No real difference we have seen over last decades in principle in either major party…..a fw minor details….no difference at all…… Catholic should be above attributing Madison ave propaganda slogans and sound bites to internal Catholic issues…..would said Bishop be alright if GOP? Libertarian?
    The issue is Catholic vs Modernist……it appears that this priest spoke up for the Catholic Churches teaching and then, magically, this Bishop finds some “financial issues” wrong with him.
    A Church tribunal/trial should wee this out and if said priest has evidence, lets hear it through proper channels……..perhaps said Bishop has a history against him as a man-man or not liking a trad priest……would not be the first time……..again, liberals in the church have a thin veneer unti la trad comes, then it can be rather harsh, oppressive and hateful…….

  25. “Arguably under this, Father Rodriguez could be forbidden to use the extraordinary form.”

    um, no the Moto Proprio was clear that priest no longer have to beg bishops to say it and Pope Pius V (yes, the “bad old days” pre-1962) was clear it was to be said in perp……

  26. “IF there are fnancial iregularites as one report had it, one presumes that an audit of the books would solve that instead of being a public matter.”

    Exactly, so why call in the unCatholic state? and, odd timing, no?
    sounds a lot more going on then on surface……pray, pray…….

  27. Bishops letter was vague, did not spell anything out…….so, to Rome to trial it should go….or UCCB (heaven help the priest there, in that “good ‘ol boys” club)

  28. “too many dismiss the Novus Ordo as intrinsically irreverent”

    well, when one sees who the players are behind said movements for the NO, why it was instituted and how close it parallels the Anglican,etc,etc…..who would not not want to be a part of it… spiritual and pray life has improved since not attending the NO (except, for occ when I go for confessio and stay for NO or, when travelling.Try not to make much of a habit of NO-if I wanted to worship like a Protestant Luthern or Anglican, would be one!)

    2 Churches running on same tracks, one will not get off and leave, like a fungus, it stays and a parasite, it sucks the marrow out…….Luther, at least, left……

  29. “Dearest Father,
    Having lived in a religious community during the 1970?s, being forced to attend a “Mass” using pizza and beer, being judged as “dangerous” for practicing private devotions, and that’s only the beginning, I praise God for your priestly service so full of zeal for souls. I promise my prayers as you endure these present trials and remind you that the devil’s anger against a faithful priest is greatly aroused. This time, the scandal is not because of any immorality but the scandal of a Shepherd who appears to have fallen prey to the devil’s intention to destro the Church from within. A passing thought, may the green eyed monster of jealousy be at work here? Stay vigilant before the Most Blessed Sacrament!”

    Well said, many did not live through this time as you and I, or have rose colored blinders on….Satan happy, Christ suffering….

  30. The wording used by Pius V in Latin did not imply the tridentine Mass would be forever, it was from this point on. He had reformed and united the various texts and rites in his time, which meant he corrected by unifying- not theologically but liturgically his predecessors’ work. Paul V1 had the exact same authority to allow vernacular translations of the official Latin texts and kept the authority to have his Vatican offices approve them. BXV1 following JP11’s initiative followed through with the same process for re-translating the Latin into English. Some try to say falsely and to me stupidly that Apb Bugnini, a Fremason and seven protestant clergy translated the Mass texts. The whole process was as noted, each episcopal conference or at least language group had input. Ther eference to Lutheranism and Aanglicanism is so humourous- their services were translations of the medieval, Reformation Catholic texts and they have always worked with our more recent texts and imitate them. Most mainline Churches in the USA are following our three-year cycle – and their liturgical scholars are seriously dedicated to healing the rift between us. The more Catholic than the Pope Catholics who are heretical sedevacante -ists and loyal Catholics who do not like the revised translations are using wrong arguments to justify fussing at it all. I remenber serving Mass at a very solemn High Mass for Christmas in the 1950’s in a Dominican church and the priest consectrated the bread and wine while the choir was going all-out with a magnificent Sanctus. That shocked me as a teenager, and as a younger Mass server I used see some priests fly through the Latin of the readings and the Canon, there was only one, the Roman with maximum speed and no sense of reverence. I am simply stating that there is no guarantee that a priest or musicians in the latest NO translations can be less reverent than a legitimate Latin Mass celebration. A dissenting SSPX Mass celebration is unworthy of attendance.

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