El Paso bishop reassigns anti-gay Priest Michael Rodriguez for illegally intervening in politics

The Catholic bishop in El Paso has reassigned a priest who recently took out a series of anti-gay ads (right) in the city’s daily newspaper. Father Michael Rodriguez of  San Juan Bautista Parish has been transferred to another church in West Texas. In addition to taking out the ads in The El Paso Times — which were paid for by an unidentified Plano couple — Rodriguez recently challenged three city officials to a public debate over their decision to vote in favor of domestic partner benefits for employees. The three officials are currently the target of recall election petitions sponsored by an anti-gay group.

ABC Channel 7 reports that El Paso Bishop Armando X. Ochoa reassigned Rodriguez because his involvement in the DP benefits issue “raised serious issues regarding whether his participation could be attributed to the Diocese of El Paso.”

“(Father) Rodriguez has recently challenged certain city officials to participate with him in a partisan debate on issues related to an upcoming election,” said Ochoa. “This type of intervention in the political process by religious organizations such as the Diocese of El Paso and San Juan Bautista Church is not permitted under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

On a related note, we mentioned last week that GLAAD has been working with The EL Paso Times to improve the newspaper’s handling of LGBT issues. Despite GLAAD’s efforts, it’s kind of sad that the newspaper can’t seem to bring itself to use the word “gay.” Check out the lede on today’s story: “The Rev. Michael Rodriguez, of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, who has been in the spotlight for his anti-homosexuality beliefs, has been reassigned to another church, he said Wednesday.” Anti-homosexuality? Sounds like “love the sinner, hate the sin” — and a sad excuse for journalism.

—  John Wright

Why is a Plano couple paying to run hateful anti-gay ads in The El Paso Times?

Earlier this week we told you about a hateful anti-gay advertisement that appeared recently in the El Paso Times. Turns out the disgusting ad in question was only one of four that ran on consecutive days, with each featuring another homophobic screed from the Rev. Michael Rodriguez of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church. In an article about the ads published Thursday, the El Paso Times reported that they don’t reflect the views of the local Catholic diocese — at least not officially. The EPT also notes that even though he wrote the copy, Rodriguez didn’t pay for the ads. Rather, they were paid for by “a couple from Plano, Texas.” We contacted Rodriguez’s church, where a woman who answered the phone denied that a Plano couple had paid for the ad. She said she would have Rodriguez get back to us, but so far he hasn’t. We also contacted the reporter, Aaron Bracamontes, who said he found out that a Plano couple had paid for the ad from the newspaper’s sales department. Bracamontes declined to give us the name of the couple, saying the newspaper will only identify them if they agree to talk.

—  John Wright

El Paso bishop counters priest’s anti-gay rant

Bishop Armando X. Ochoa

The Most Rev. Armando X. Ochoa, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, penned an op-ed for Sunday’s El Paso Times that appeared to be a direct response to a homophobic rant by the Rev. Michael Rodriguez that was published in the same newspaper earlier this month.

Rodriguez, parish priest at San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in El Paso, compared gays to rapists and condemned LGBT allies to hell.

“First of all, I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Ochoa writes.

Ochoa went on to say that while the church opposes same-sex marriage, he advocates love and compassion for all — even us “homosexuals”:

“As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives. We believe that Christ offers this meaning. The use of harsh words of condemnation is not the approach Christ invites us to have toward one another. Intolerance closes the door to learning and deeper understanding of each other,” he writes. “Furthermore, it leads to divisiveness within the body of Christ. It is time for us to learn how to work with each other, even when and if we disagree. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.”

—  John Wright

El Paso priest likens gays to rapists, condemns allies to hell — and the newspaper publishes it

And you thought The Dallas Morning News was bad!

Actually, ever since resident bigot Rod Dreher left, The DMN’s Sunday opinion pages have been largely devoid of any discussion of gay rights, pro or con.

Not so for The El Paso Times, which on Sunday printed this op/ed piece from the Rev. Michael Rodriguez, parish priest at San Juan Bautista Catholic Church.

Going a step further than even the Texas Republican Party platform, Rodriguez begins by suggesting that not only gays — but also those who fail to actively oppose them — are damned to hell:

Any Catholic who supports homosexual acts is, by definition, committing a mortal sin, and placing himself/herself outside of communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Furthermore, a Catholic would be guilty of a most grievous sin of omission if he/she neglected to actively oppose the homosexual agenda, which thrives on deception and conceals its wicked horns under the guises of “equal rights,” “tolerance,” “who am I to judge?,” etc.

Father Rodriguez goes on to say that all “homosexuals” should be treated with “love, understanding, and respect.” But he adds, “At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls.”

Interestingly, Rodriguez concludes by making an argument similar to one we frequently hear from supporters of same-sex marriage — who note that just because a majority of voters support a law, this doesn’t make it constitutional. But Rodriguez makes the argument from the opposite perspective, saying that just because a majority of voters support gay rights, this doesn’t make them morally right. This is a relatively new twist — usually we hear anti-gay voices espousing the virtues of the popular vote — but it’s one we’ll probably see more often as public opinion shifts in our favor:

To simplify: One would have to be ghastly morally decrepit to think that if 51 percent of Americans opine that rape is OK, then rape becomes, in effect, all right. Sure, the majority is politically capable of such a vote, but this could never make rape morally right.

There is such a thing as a corrupt democracy, you know!

Abortion and homosexual acts are unequivocally intrinsic moral evils. And friends, this objective truth doesn’t depend on the opinion of the majority. Frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous consequences.

Bigots are a dime a dozen, so it’s hardly surprising that a Catholic priest in El Paso believes this stuff (insert pedophilia joke here). The  surprising thing is that The El Paso Times would print such garbage.

We’re all for the First Amendment and an open exchange of ideas, but to borrow an analogy from Rodriguez, that doesn’t mean you let rapists write op-ed pieces from prison explaining that, “She was asking for it.”

—  John Wright