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Sursum Corda for a New

Bishop of El Paso, Texas

Father Michael Rodriguez POSTED: 12/511

Bishop Armando Ochoa

is leaving El Paso

( In light of the recent momentous events in the Diocese of El Paso, TX, I would like to present a special plea to faithful Roman Catholics from around the nation.  On December 1, 2011, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, appointed Bishop Armando X. Ochoa as the new bishop of Fresno, California.  Sursum corda!  Now is the time to lift up our hearts to almighty God and beg Him to have mercy on us, poor sinners that we are.  In order to protect and promote the precious Catholic religion, outside of which there is no salvation, it is imperative that all of us storm heaven with fervent prayers, especially the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary, begging God to send El Paso a holy, zealous, and fearless new shepherd.

Unfortunately, the Diocese of El Paso continues to be plagued by very serious problems and grave sins against God and the Faith.  We desperately need a spiritual leader who will address these issues with honesty, determination, perseverance, and absolute fidelity to Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church. 

It is of utmost importance to draw attention to three areas in the life of the diocese that are particularly infested with the vermin of modernism:  (1) the Liturgy, or worship of God, (2) Catholic doctrine, or the teaching of the truths of the Faith, and (3) the priesthood.

The Liturgy

 The Diocese of El Paso needs a new bishop who will begin to take the necessary steps to correct the moral and spiritual disorder of liturgical abuses in the celebration of the Holy Sacraments of salvation, especially Mass and Confession.  For example, it is commonplace in our parishes to find priests celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions carelessly and with no apparent faith, love, and devotion.  The reckless and scandalous manner in which many priests and laity handle the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is, objectively, not only sacrilegious, but diabolical. 

In addition, I urge the faithful to implore the powerful aid of Sancta Dei Genetrix, the holy Mother of God, so that El Paso’s new bishop, obedient to the liturgical directives of Pope Benedict XVI, will be supportive of the 1962 Roman Liturgy, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass.  Hundreds of Catholics in El Paso are, at present, petitioning for the establishment of a traditional Catholic parish dedicated exclusively to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite. 

Pope Benedict refers to the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 as “a precious treasure to be preserved” (Universae Ecclesiae 8, April 30, 2011), and declares that it “must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage” (Summorum Pontificum, art.1, July 7, 2007).  The Roman Pontiff instructs us further in regard to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too” (Pope Benedict’s July 7, 2007 letter to the world’s bishops).  As the glorious Ancient Rite spreads its divine aroma and becomes more available throughout our diocese, it will prove to be a heavenly “leaven,” more than capable of restoring beauty, dignity, reverence, sacredness, and truth to the celebration of all the sacraments.

Catholic Doctrine

El Paso needs a new bishop and Successor to the Apostles, who will begin to take the necessary steps to correct the moral and spiritual disorder of watered-down, partial, false, and even heretical presentations of Catholic doctrine at our Catholic schools, Tepeyac Institute, and parish catechetical programs.  Grave sins against the Faith include belittling, ridiculing, or obstinately questioning the salvific teachings of Holy Mother Church, as well as intentionally ignoring or maintaining silence on certain doctrinal or moral truths.  We are in urgent need of a wise bishop who will make it clear that any form of dissent from Church teaching is unacceptable and inexcusable.  It is not “pastoral” or charitable to sidestep or veer away from proclaiming the truth.  If “love and compassion” are not grounded in the one truth taught by Jesus Christ and His Church, then “love” is a lie and “compassion” an illusion.

Given the raging forces unleashed by our three spiritual enemies—the devil, the world, and the flesh—it should come as no surprise that the holy sacrament of Matrimony is under vicious attack.  First, the sin of divorce, and the denial of the indissolubility of marriage.  Next comes the sin of contraception, with its refusal to accept the procreation and education of children as the primary ends of marriage.  Finally, we’re now facing hell’s ultimate assault on marriage:  the detestable sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, where the natural, anthropological foundation of marriage is rejected and destroyed.

As in many other parts of the country, there is an ongoing effort in El Paso, on the part of city officials, to legitimize homosexual unions under the pretext of extending “health-care benefits” to “unmarried partners” of city employees.  This is disgraceful, totally irresponsible (society has a fundamental duty to protect and foster marriage and the family), and gravely immoral.  Rome has made it very clear that every single Catholic has the obligation to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions.  The mayor of El Paso, John Cook, is purportedly “Catholic,” yet he is the driving force behind the city’s attempt to sanction sodomy.  We must pray for a heroic bishop who, strengthened by apostolic grace, will stand tall and defend God’s holy Law.  He will first have to work prudently and patiently to win over the minds and hearts of the city’s many “Catholic” politicians who are on the brink of moral and spiritual ruin.  However, if the mayor and other government officials remain obstinate in their sin and persist in giving public scandal, our new bishop must exercise his apostolic authority for the good of souls and issue the necessary excommunications, always with the hope of the sinner’s eventual repentance and conversion.

The priesthood

The Diocese of El Paso needs a new bishop and spiritual father who will begin to take the necessary steps to correct the moral and spiritual disorder of rampant homosexuality within our presbyterate.  The abomination of actively homosexual priests is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance and is crippling our diocese.  El Paso needs a new shepherd who will demand of us priests what Christ demands:  obedience, celibacy, a profound life of prayer, simplicity of life, a spirit of continual conversion, pastoral charity marked by kenosis (death to self), sacrifice, service, and true holiness in our public and private conduct.  God willing, our new bishop will insist that we priests give priority to the spiritual dimension of our priestly life and ministry:  offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily, administering the sacrament of Confession, guiding the parish’s life of prayer, and instructing the faithful according to the full and authentic doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  Good, pious, holy, and masculine priests are a priceless gift to Mother Church and the surest guarantee of success in fostering future vocations to the priesthood.


In spite of the difficulties, obstacles, and sin which we currently face in El Paso, it is a great joy to be a priest of God.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love the priesthood, and I love Holy Mother Church.  There’s nothing sweeter.  Let us never lose Christian joy and hope.  We cannot allow ourselves to become bitter.  With confidence and trust in God, we must continue laboring and praying, come what may, conscious that it is all done for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Sursum corda!  Let us lift up our hearts to the brilliant mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and entrust our filial petition for a pure and saintly bishop to the sinless Mother of God.  O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Fr. Michael Rodríguez is a priest of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas.  He is currently the parochial vicar of Santa Teresa Catholic Church in Presidio, Texas.  His pastoral duties include caring for the mission Churches in Candelaria, Redford, and Shafter, Texas.

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