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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Betting Window Is Open

Just three months after Bishop Ochoa, formerly of El Paso, publicly rebuked one of his own priests for daring to promulgate the Church's teaching on homosexuality, he finds himself moved to Fresno.

What a coincidence!

Those outside the Church and/or those not familiar with Church politics might say this move is a reward to Ochoa for his years of service. After all, Bishop Ochoa has old ties to California, having been consecrated by Cardinal Mahoney and serving as one of his auxiliaries for nearly a decade prior to his elevation to El Paso. Fresno is also a larger diocese than El Paso, so an argument can be made that Bishop Ochoa is finally being allowed to return to where his heart lies.

But is that really what is going on?

A bishop is generally moved to a new diocese because he is seen as having a set of skills which match the difficulties of the diocese to which he is being moved. That is, a bishop is generally placed in a diocese in such a way that he can make a difference.

Now, making a difference takes time. Bishop Ochoa, for instance, is replacing a man who reigned as Fresno's bishop for over twenty years. Ochoa himself reigned in El Paso from June 1996 to Dec 1, 2011,  a period of over 15 years.

But Bishop Ochoa is now 68 years old, just a few months shy of his 69th birthday (April 3, 1943). If a bishop doesn't make any changes in his first year in a new diocese (and most don't), that leaves Ochoa with roughly five years to work before he has to hand in his resignation. That's not a lot of time to accomplish anything.

And it's not like he accomplished that much in El Paso:
During the eleven year span between 1999 and 2009, there were only two ordinations to the priesthood for the Diocese of El Paso.
A bishop whose lived example and teaching is such that he manages to lead only two men to the priesthood in a decade isn't typically rewarded with a larger see. So, why would Rome move what would appear to be a barely competent bishop to a see like Fresno?

There's a question, eh?

Typically, an incompetent bishop is allowed to quietly die in his own diocese so that, at least, he doesn't harm anyone else. Bishop Ochoa was not granted that grace.

And the good Bishop himself seems rather deeply ticked off about the move. After all, when was the last time you heard a departing bishop speak dismissively of the diocese he himself has headed for the last decade? Yet that's exactly what Bishop Ochoa did on his way out of El Paso:
Bishop Ochoa likes to snow ski, and cycle. On his days off he'll ride 40 miles a week. In addition, he's happy to leave some of the west Texas ways behind. 
Bishop Ochoa: "After fifteen years, with all do (sic) respect, even though I have my Tony Lama boots and my Stetson hat, I'm never getting into country western or whatever they call it."

Hmmm... That's a little peevish from someone who is getting his heart's desire, isn't it?
Again we ask, is this a reward or a punishment and public disgrace?

Before you answer, notice how the chips fell - for there has been at least some (self-inflicted) collateral damage among other American bishops.

Fr. Michael Rodriguez, a diocesan priest of El Paso, had long fought against El Paso's City Council's attempt to impose homosexual "marriage" on the city against the express will of the voters. It is to be noted that many members of the City Council, including the mayor, claim to be "Catholic." An example of Father Michael's work can be seen here:

Of course, orthodox teaching could not be allowed to interfere with the City Council's work.
By August 2011, Bishop Ochoa publicly repudiated Magisterial Church teaching as a peculiar personal opinion of an outcast priest:
“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,” 
Worse (at least from Bishop Ochoa's point of view), the Magisterium was not in conformance with the bishop's expert interpretation of IRS regulations (while the bishop has no formal training in the tax code, he is a very quick study).

2011's summer discussion of homosexual marriage in El Paso became nationally known. As Catholic blogs quickly lined up to opine on the situation, RealCatholicTV stepped in to produce not one, but two videos highlighting the wonders of Catholic teaching under Bishop Ochoa's reign in El Paso.

Now, those two videos came out in late October.

Which was just in time for another amazing coincidence.

Just over a month after Voris' twin videos highlighted the barely credible competence of Bishop Ochoa in regards not just to Fr. Michael Rodriguez but also in regards to the gross heresy permitted at the Tepeyac Institute of El Paso, RealCatholicTV got its reward.

On December 23, 2011 the Archdiocese of Detroit decided to give a special Christmas present to RealCatholicTV - Archbishop Vigneron decreed that Voris' organization be stripped of the word "Catholic" for having failed to teach in a way Vigneron considered to be in conformance with Catholic Faith.

The problem, of course, is that RealCatholicTV is not Voris' organization. Although Voris lives in Detroit, the organization is actually based in South Bend diocese. Which means Archbishop Vigneron is not competent to make such a decree. And Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who is competent to make such a decree, has remained conspicuously silent.

So, it looks for all the world as if Bishop Ochoa were being moved out of El Paso for lack of competency in general and for failing to take a stand against homosexual marriage in particular. He would appear to be the laughingstock of the American episcopacy.

Archbishop Vigneron then attempted to punish some of the people responsible for highlighting Ochoa's incompetence, but instead apparently made himself look even more foolish than Ochoa, which at this point, took some real work.

In the combat between the bishops and the Holy Spirit, we make the score God 2, Bishops 0.

Hello America's bishops!
Would anyone else like to take sides on this one?
The betting window is open...

Now, as a final aside, what lesson can the lay faithful take away from this?
The lesson, ladies and gentlemen, is this.
Keep your smart phones at hand.
Record homilies, liturgies, teachings - visual or just audio, whatever suits you.
Record everything.
Make copies of the good and of the bad and send those copies, with appropriate remarks, up the chain of command.

First, send a copy to the priest, thanking him for good teaching, asking him to explain less than good teaching.
If the teaching is good, copy the bishop - he should know who his good men are.

But if the teaching is confusing, and the priest does not respond appropriately within an appropriate time frame (say a month or so), then take copies of his (non) response and send both the original communications and the priest's response to the bishop, asking for the bishop to explain the confusing teaching.

If the bishop doesn't respond within a couple of months, or responds inappropriately, take it to the papal nuncio.
After that, take it to the appropriate congregation in Rome.

Record everything.
Did I mention you should record everything?
We want good priests, good teaching and good liturgy highlighted and properly rewarded.
We want confusing priests, teaching and liturgy highlighted and properly rewarded.
Record everything.
Hold fast to those recordings.

And pray for El Paso's new bishop, that he may have 
the steely spine of the Spirit, 
the loving heart of Christ, and 
the mind of God the Father.


Rick DeLano said...

Bravo. Well said. Spot on.

Merry Christmas!

Editor: Jay Boyd, Ph.D. said...

Ditto Rick's comment: BRAVO. And while you're at it, please pray for the Diocese of Baker. While we are not in the limelight like El Paso and Michael Voris, we are in a crisis situation here which has been brought on by our Apostolic Administrator - plenty of details on my blog. I think the time is ripe for the laity to ACT, to SPEAK OUT. We simply cannot afford to remain silent any longer. But prayer is foremost: pray and fast, that good holy bishops may be appointed, for the spiritual good of the people.

Hildebrand said...

Good advice.. Record everything, it worked for us in the Australian Diocese of Toowoomba.

Joseph K. said...

This makes my commentary on the issue look juvenile.

I wanted to make the El Paso - Detroit connection and just couldn't. Maybe it is collegial ecclesiastics, maybe there is something we cant quite see. Either way you can tell this move has a deeper purpose.

It is very unfortunate that these Bishops are trying to battle these things out in the court of public opinion. The faithful are slowly moving towards orthodoxy, and the Bishops should embrace this move and stop trying to be the Church of the 70s and 80s.

Dad29 said...

Abp Vigneron, from all accounts I've heard from reliable friends, is a good guy who knows Catholicism.

Looks more like a "circle the wagons" deal--sorta like doctors defend doctors, lawyers defend lawyers, (etc.)

This isn't tiddlywinks, however.

Jordanes551 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordanes551 said...

Not sure if there's any connection between the Vigneron/Voris thing and Ochoa's improper actions against Fr. Rodriguez, but I think you're right that Ochoa's transfer to Fresno is related to his silencing of Fr. Rodriguez.

Ochoa's attack on Fr. Rodriguez reminds me of how USCCB staffer Daniel Avila was made to apologise for mentioning that the Devil, as the source of sin, is ultimately responsible for disorders that afflict Creation -- followed a few days later by Avila's resignation from his USCCB post. Both cases involve retribution against someone who explained or defended what the Church teaches about the homosexual disorder, with said retribution accompanied by statements that suggest that the Church doesn't really believe what the Church believes. One must contemplate the probability that the "Lavender Mafia" still operates within the American hierarchy . . . .

Nilk said...

Hildebrand we are currently having fun in Melbourne with Father Bob Maguire.

I personally consider him a bit of a heretic, but he's very popular in his parish of St. Kilda. His blog is here.

Someone's started a petition and of course he's on twitter. Aren't we all?

For a wonderful experience, check out his latest podcast. It's got it all. He bags the Archbishop, his imminent retirement is presented as his 'execution' and there are two churches, actually. The real church and the corporation.

It's truly appalling stuff.

Jordanes551 said...

BTW, is Plano in the Diocese of El Paso? If so, congratulations.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Sadly, no.
We are in the diocese of Dallas.
We've got our own problems here.

Aged parent said...

I don't wish to rain on anyone's parade but I do not think we can come to the conclusion that Rome acted thus due to Bishop Ochoa's disgraceful treatment of Fr Rodriguez. It is a nice theory, even an interesting one, but no more than a theory at this point. There just isn't enough concrete evidence as yet to support this view.

By all means let us cheer on any moves that Rome might make that are meant to restore order, but let us also keep our heads as level as possible.