Sexual and financial disasters linked

Sexual and financial disasters linked

The Dallas Morning News has a two-part story on a priest in the diocese who runs a local charity as if it were his personal money-tree, charging illegal immigrants millions of dollars for services provided by the Catholic “charity” and then spreading the wealth around to himself and other employees. That was in the first part of the story published yesterday. Here’s a key point linking the two stories:

    [The charity] owns a house in DeSoto that it rents for $10 a month to Father Lucio, 59, and the maintenance man, Mr. Villatoro, 28. The two men originally     bought the house themselves in October 2001—with the charity’s cash, Ms. Granados said—then transferred the title to Casita two months later.

    Ms. Granados said Father Lucio called her and her husband that October while they were in San Antonio, saying he wanted to borrow funds to pay off his house. She said they gave their proxy votes by phone, thinking he was referring to a duplex he owned in East Dallas. … Father Lucio still owns the East Dallas duplex, which is valued on the tax rolls at nearly $190,000. Asked why Father Lucio might need to quit living at the duplex, Mr. Granados said: “It’s ugly.”

Okay, it’s not a sign of something sinister for a priest to live with another man. If he’s not living in a rectory, perhaps he just doesn’t want to live alone. But why would a 58-year-old priest and a 28-year-old maintenance man buy a house jointly? That does seem odd. But then we have this from today’s article:

    Dallas Catholic Diocese leaders insist that they have no priest on duty who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing anyone, child or adult. How, then, do they explain the case of the Rev. Justin Lucio, who has long been assigned to run his own ministry for undocumented immigrants?   

    In the early 1990s, two immigrants testified that Father Lucio had used threats and promises to pressure them into intercourse. The priest admitted in a 1991 deposition that he had told people the young men were his nephews, although he is unrelated to them. And he acknowledged that     he sometimes handled Latino parishioners’ genitals—to help them, he said, with health concerns.   

    Bishop Charles Grahmann didn’t know about Father Lucio’s testimony until The Dallas Morning News asked about it, spokesman Bronson Havard said. “The documents will have to be studied,” he said.

This is the same bishop, by the way, who refused to act for so long after it was revealed that one of his priests was a member of “St. Sebastian’s Angels,” a web site and mailing list for openly gay priests that was pretty close to outright pornograpy. And the same bishop who has openly feuded with his coadjutor over the assignment of controversial priests.

And, by the way, why was Fr. Lucio available to head up the charity he used as his own personal piggy bank?

    Dallas Bishop Charles Grahmann assigned the Rev. Justin Lucio to the     unsupervised ministry after deeming him unfit for parish work a decade ago. Father Lucio lost his last pastor’s job in 1989 after accusations of sexual and financial misconduct, which he denied and the bishop says were unsubstantiated. …

    Casita Maria was born in 1989, the year Father Lucio was forced from St. James Catholic Church and began a protracted pressure campaign against diocesan leaders. His supporters picketed and accused the hierarchy of racism; the priest went on a hunger strike.   

    Later, he filed a slander suit against a lay leader who had told the Dallas Diocese about the sexual and financial misconduct accusations. Ultimately, Father Lucio dropped the lawsuit and agreed never to refile it.

So here you have a priest accused over a decade ago of sexual and financial misconduct, who shows so little regard for his bishop that he engages in a hunger strike and doesn’t dissuade his supporters from picketing the chancery, a priest deemed unfit for ministry, a priest who was later accused of more sexual misconduct, and the bishop assigned him to a charity where he had access to millions of dollars? Why was this guy still in the priesthood? Why was he still allowed to walk around with a collar and call himself Father? Why did Bishop Grahmann tolerate this or allow himself to become powerless to act?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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