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A renegade priest who has refused to give up his Rosarito Beach parish says he has filed a criminal complaint of robbery against the archbishop of Tijuana, the Tijuana daily Frontera reports.

Father Raymundo Figueroa told the newspaper that personnel from the archdiocese — with the help of Rosarito Beach police officers — entered the grounds of Santísimo Sacramento parish sometime last week and removed computers, documents, and, “presumptively,” cash. The Frontera report did not mention exactly when the police raid occurred, but a press release from the archdiocese said the encounter occurred on June 18.

The incident is the latest confrontation in a battle between Tijuana archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz and Figueroa, identified by the newspaper as “the disobedient father.” In November 2009, Romo and a group of priests were turned away by parishioners when they tried to reclaim the parish after the archbishop had transferred Figueroa. The priest has refused to leave the parish, even though Romo has assigned Fr. Carlos Santillán Ortega as the new pastor.

The archdiocesan news release noted that police officers and representatives of the archdiocese presented Figueroa with a civil court order telling him to turn over the parish to the archdiocese, “the legitimate owner” of the property. “The surrender of the property was not successful,” according to the archdiocesan statement. Figueroa, has been suspended from priestly ministry since April 30, and the archbishop has begun the process to return the priest to lay status. “Nevertheless, he continues to usurp the role of parish priest and continues the illegitimate possession of the property,” read the release.

Figueroa told Frontera he would not abandon the parish and that, when police and archdiocesan officials showed up, he began ringing the church’s bells to call parishioners. “A hundred faithful gathered on the parish patio to express their concern for what they considered an aggression against the Catholic community of Colonia Constitución and the priest,” the newspaper reported.

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Comments

David Dodd June 22, 2010 @ 2:29 p.m.

Wow, Bob, this story begs for a mountain of backstory. First, the collusion of cops and the church, which is questionable in accordance with the Mexican Constitution. But especiually as to exactly what Figueroa did to warrant the intervention of Romo. Comment here, or blog it. I'm not likely to get more from media sources in Tijuana or Rosarito.

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nan shartel June 22, 2010 @ 5 p.m.

wow...i'd like to hear more about this 2...as Refried said back story etc...if the parish is loyal to Father Figueroa i don't understand the reason he should be moved

please tell us more...anyone

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Grasca June 22, 2010 @ 5:31 p.m.

"Crossing into the US to perform priestly duties for a fee." Some priests, if the allegation is true, have done far worse.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/21/local/la-me-priest21-2009dec21

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 6:10 p.m.

Really interesting reading, thanks Grasca.

This is how the revolution begins.

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Grasca June 22, 2010 @ 6:24 p.m.

Another charge against the Padre was holding Mass during swine flu season which violated orders from above.

http://secretummeummihi.blogspot.com/2009/05/la-influencia-influenza-porcina-cuando.html

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 7:17 p.m.

Well, Father Figueroa is clearly in the wrong anyway you look at it. But he's got the support of 8000 parishioners. Who's going to win that fight, and at what cost?

Really interesting, thanks for posting this story, Bob, and thanks Grasca for your research.

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David Dodd June 22, 2010 @ 7:35 p.m.

No, there is something else. All Mexican Catholic churches charge fees for all ceremonies. All of them. Wedding, 1st Communion, Confirmation, everything. No idea about the U.S. (I was charged a hefty fee for the priest's wedding services there, otherwise no idea), but I know how the church operates here. My wife is Catholic, all of the children have been baptised/1st communion-ized/conformation-ized. Her sister was wed here. I was a part of all of those ceremonies and personally paid the Catholic church for the privilege. I would love for BOB to find out what the real reason is, everything that's being linked is nothing but speculative nonsense, dogma, or propaganda.

What's really going on is that the priest used the money he made in the U.S. for his own parish rather than to GIVE it to the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese are thieves and hypocrites. BOB, interview some of the parishioners. Bet me this isn't what's really going on.

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Grasca June 22, 2010 @ 7:54 p.m.

The only official charge for the RCC in the US involves Pre Cana training. I assume that things are not that different in TJ where a person can donate something to the RCC or priest for performing a ceremony. Now that the RCC have mass baptisms in US I am sure no can be nicked for a donation for this rite of passage. Do the TJ RCCs have mass baptisms ?

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 8 p.m.

I did not pay for my child to be baptized. I gave a donation. When I have arranged for funeral Masses for members of my family, I gave a donation. No one demanded money. As I recall, when my children's grandmother was dying, I specifically asked the priest who came how much should be given and he emphatically denied there was a fee; we put money in an envelope and he took it, as a donation.

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David Dodd June 22, 2010 @ 10:16 p.m.

"I assume that things are not that different in TJ..."

You assume incorrectly. "Donations" for services by the Catholic church are mandatory here, )and at weddings in the U.S. as well, including my own). Mass ceremonies in Tijuana still require a "mandatory donation". This is how the Catholic church has done things for a hundred years here. I am not a Catholic, yet, if I wanted to marry my wife in a Catholic Church in Mexico, I could pay the church money and they would look the other way at my lack of ever having been baptised, never having taken communion, never having confessed to a priest, and so on.

The Archdiosese does not want this priest tossed out of his church for doing what all priests in Mexico do, which is to gather as much money as they can in order to better their own churches. The Archdiosese simply want their cut, probably much more than the priest wanted to offer because he felt obligated to his own parish. I would rather hear from BOB, who actually lives near Rosarito, and has for quite some time. I would very much be interested in BOB interviewing some of the parish with my opinion about what is really going on in mind. BOB very much understands how Mexico and Baja are.

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Grasca June 22, 2010 @ 11:16 p.m.

I guess all of the articles which were written by legitimate journalists are easy to dismiss. In the Middle Ages dispensations were sold so if these customs in TJ are factual, the RCC is only continuing ancient traditions. Again do we have a video to prove that RCC priests demand money for performing their priestly duties ? There must be a hungry reporter somewhere who will go undercover, crash a wedding, First Communion, or funeral and come back with the evidence in exchange for a paid article in some publication.

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David Dodd June 22, 2010 @ 11:56 p.m.

It never bothers me when people do not believe what is said about how Mexico runs. Most are completely ignorant, yet enjoy commenting and telling others that know better how wrong these people are about Mexico. When one who knows explains that priests and judges are easily paid to perform certain services, these people demand proof; and demand that for fifty dollars, one would risk imprisonment or worse to provide that proof. It is a sense of entitlement by many who are often entitled by their own corrupt lives, or their misplaced alliances. It is the epic definition of irony. Sometimes it is the same people that act this way who would disrespect a soldier in order to qualify their own political ideology, another irony since the soldiers give their lives for such freedom of expression.

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David Dodd June 23, 2010 @ midnight

Bringing a camera or video recorder into a church is against the law in Mexico. Without permission, the minimum is a fine and the maximum is imprisonment. It is also illegal to film the scene of a crime in Mexico without express permission of the authorities. It is also illegal to "go undercover". Judges can be bribed but the bribe will certainly cost much more than the story would pay.

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 7:22 a.m.

Too bad the video rule was not applicable in certain instances here in the US especially for uninvited guests at private events. Strange and hard to believe if the everything else is negotiable and subject to a mordita in Mexico.

Has the rule also been lifted that a previously married person in RCC ceremony cannot remarry in the RCC unless the first marriage has been RCC officially annulled via the RCC ? Or can anyone bribe a priest to overlook any rules if the price is right ?

Strange if all of this is true in terms of the RCC rules in Mexico and the US. I thought we were talking about "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" if I recall the prayer correctly ? Rules are rules in any country if the Apostles Creed still holds.

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 7:49 a.m.

No rules in Mexico, apparently.

It's a fascinating situation, Grasca, don't you think. A priest in Mexico sells Sacraments in the US to take money back to his church and build it up, therefore gaining a huge following. (BTW, taking Holy Communion or Confirmation without the lessons make the Sacraments essentially worthless.) He is encouraging Catholics to break faith with the Church by selling Sacraments, breaks his vow of obedience, turns his parishioners against the Church. I mean, this is sacrilege of the highest order.

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 8:07 a.m.

My question is what constitutes an "expert" in these matters ? Do you need to live in Mexico, be a Mexican, and a member of RCC or can anyone have an opinion or information and share it ? The continuing efforts on the part of some to curtail discussion on the thread is humorous. I gather that 2 Americans who live in Mexico (Bob and the other person) are the only experts on a situation which has been exposed and written about in the American press ?

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 8:08 a.m.

In a way the padre is as insubordinate as General McCrystal.

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 8:26 a.m.

I like General McChrystal!!! Or at least I like the aide that called Biden "Bite Me!" :)

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 8:31 a.m.

McCrystal has a big problem when it comes to authority just as Generals MacArthur and Patton did. Some retired generals are calling for him resignation or firing which amazes me. The White House meeting (all 20 mintues) is over and no news has been released as to McCrystal's fate. The RCC and the military are similar in their structure. I am betting that a lowly padre will not prevail when it comes to a contest of wills between him and the Archbishop no matter now many parishioners support the padre. Just for the record I am not in the military so maybe I should not comment ?

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 9:15 a.m.

Obama is weak; McChrystal is a dead duck; this is bad news.

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 9:43 a.m.

General McChrystal's background before The Maybe Fall.

Gen. McChrystal held a covert position as the head of Joint Special Operations Command, one of the most secretive forces in the U.S. military. Rumor has it that he was never photographed as JSOP Commander and even had his name and phone number deleted from most Pentagon directories. Now the General has made the cover of Rolling Stone and probably wishes that he was back in the shadows.

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nan shartel June 23, 2010 @ 9:50 a.m.

thx so much Grasca...ur the best!!!

maybe i'll go down and support Father Figueroa who seems to me a true protector and keeper of his flock

i will read more later

and right on Refried!!!

this is a story that deserves some REAL journalistic investigation

may we all learn more soon

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nan shartel June 23, 2010 @ 9:53 a.m.

i bet he only asks for offerings...that's a lot different then selling sacraments

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nan shartel June 23, 2010 @ 9:56 a.m.

don't get me started on the Roman Catholic Church....yikes!!!!!!!

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 9:59 a.m.

$180 and what it might buy you from an RCC padre. It sures seems like chump change compared to the large RCC settlements in the news to compensate victims of priestly pedophiles.

http://trueslant.com/lillyfowler/2009/12/26/a-page-out-of-the-middle-ages-selling-sacraments/

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 10:04 a.m.

Why not start on the RCC ? It could occupy a life time of commentary. But only RCs can contribute to the thread. My rules. Ha Ha Ha.

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 10:07 a.m.

He only asked for offerings? Odd that the "offering" asked for was the same price in each case, then. And again, the point is that "fast-track" Sacraments void the purpose of the Sacrament, not to mention holding certain ceremonies outside of the Church voids the Sacrament itself. That is the wrong deed, ultimately.

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 10:11 a.m.

Wouldn't the sacrament still be valid even if a price was set for performing it ? I thought only a priest removed from his Holy Orders could not perform a valid sacrament. Where is Bob with the juicy details ?

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 10:21 a.m.

There is some contradictory information in your posted links. One said that the Sacraments would be valid, another said that the locations might invalidate the Sacrament, and my guess is that a third mitigating factor would be if it can be proven that the Sacrament was sold. I suspect it will be a case by case situation with many of these ceremonies, but that most, if not all, of the Sacraments will be held valid in the end.

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 10:26 a.m.

McChrystal is out, Petraeus is taking over in Afghanistan.

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 10:28 a.m.

If the priest has not been removed from Holy Orders, the sacraments would be valid as far I understand.

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 10:36 a.m.

See section in link about leaving the priesthood. It would seem to be a matter of Canon Law. We might be confusing a reprimand/suspension with something more serious. Still a priest is supposed to be obedient to his archbishop. This padre has crossed the line in more than one way assuming the reported behaviors are accurate.

http://www.paulturner.org/priesthood.htm

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nan shartel June 23, 2010 @ 11:44 a.m.

in spite of all the barrage ballooning here...and i didn't realize it was in fact a set fee of $180...i still have mixed feelings about this priest...who he is as a soul who had the best interest of the growth of his church involved

what he was doing according to canon laws was unacceptable...even tho i doubt any arm twisting of those who received those fast tracked sacraments was involved

such a strange crime...if it could be considered one....it wasn't robbery...and only obscure 11th century Catholicism has any written accounts of the view of such practices

and what kind of sanctions should be taken against this priest...i find it very hard to take sides on this one...a no harm no foul crime that only exist in the eyes of the Catholic Church

by the way...i'm an ex Catholic

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 11:49 a.m.

There are priests who have done far worse things that are still dispensing the sacraments. Unless there is a lot more to this story, the Archbishop's actions seems extreme but then you have to keep the troops in line.

Legal to post under my rules RCs only ex or otherwise.

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nan shartel June 23, 2010 @ 12:32 p.m.

thx Grasca...exes usually don't get treated quite so well;-)

here's a tidbit for u to sharpen ur teeth on

someone i know (catholic)after a few years of being divorced (with 3 kids) fast tracked a Catholic annulment in order to NOT be written out of her fathers will

money was involved...but the pope got that....hahahahahahahahaha

and i don't think he could be replaced quite so easily

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Grasca June 23, 2010 @ 1:27 p.m.

I have an RC friend who was married and divorced 2x but none of the weddings were in the RCC. So we laugh and know that in the eyes of the RCC she is still a virgin. Lots of hanky panky always occurred with those pesky RCC annulments starting with Jackie O's baby sister, Lee Radziwill. Strings were pulled and maybe money changed hands to make this annulment happen. Same old, same old RCC. The nuns from OLP would be shocked.

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jerome June 23, 2010 @ 2:11 p.m.

i am not a priest but would gladly help ya get a ticket to heaven tis an easy thing just ask jesus for forgiveness from the depth of your heart

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Visduh June 23, 2010 @ 8:26 p.m.

All this commentary reminds me of why I stopped paying any attention to the church when I was a young teenager, and then never looked back.

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nan shartel June 24, 2010 @ 11:10 a.m.

OLP...Grasca...i went to High School there for a year...i was a boarder..

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Grasca June 24, 2010 @ 11:50 a.m.

Villa Montemar. Beautiful grounds and buildings back in the day when I was there. The North Terrace had its own special charm with the Grecian style pool and the mysterious parlors located in the estate's two story former home. I recall a tower in the music building and jacarandas gracing a front patio. Rose gardens too. The pink marble chapel was over the top even for an RCC girls' school. Such innocent times for the students and the world.

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