Friday, May 15, 2009

Farewell to Bishop Peña

Received this some time back.


As Bishop Peña turned 75 and is now up for retirement, there have been many published accolades of his accomplishments in the Brownsville Diocese since becoming our bishop in 1995. Before we turn the page of his administration, however, it is important to read the full page.

When he arrived in August of 1995, he asked for the resignation of all lay diocesan employees and told them that they would each know if they still had their position within the diocese by the end of the year, five months in the waiting. This was all based on information that he had received about some of the staff from misinformed laity, not fellow clergy. At a clergy conference, it quickly became apparent that he was going to accept the resignations of these employees without so much as meeting or talking with them.

He kicked the Oblate fathers out of the Shrine. The Oblates are a religious community of men who had decades of presence and leadership in the Valley. He then incorporated and formed a board whose members were all sworn to confidentiality about any and all matters that the board discussed, even when they were not in executive session.

He spent thousands of dollars remodeling the building that housed diocesan offices in Alamo, turning it into a residence for himself. The house plans show that it even has an indoor sauna.

He terminated the pension fund for all diocesan and parish lay employees without consulting the board of the pension fund. The fund was nearly $12 MILLION over-funded. While a very small portion of this over funded money was returned to the parishes, there was little or no accounting for where the rest of this money went and although he terminated the employee pension fund, he DID NOT terminate the same pension fund for the priests.

On August 2nd, 1999, a check from the diocesan insurance carrier, Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., was paid out in the amount of $350,000 to his mother, Elisa Peña, to settle a claim made against the diocese on her behalf after a December 24th 1996 accident that involved a diocesan vehicle in which she was a passenger.

He employed his own CPA from El Paso for the Brownsville Diocese rather than employing a CPA firm from the Valley. This CPA has had to fly into the Valley every time he is needed. Few in the diocese feel that the Bishop has been transparent in the finances of the diocese and this area was a constant cause for contention at clergy gatherings.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Bishop Peña asked Fr. Onyia, a priest from Nigeria, to leave the country as soon as possible after allegations that Fr. Onyia had sexually molested a mentally disabled minor while at the Shrine. He also accosted two teenage girls in Harlingen, after the Bishop had transferred him there.

The Brownsville diocese has paid out MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in secret settlements of sexual abuse cases involving clergy. Is it possible that this is where the almost $12 MILLION in proceeds from the termination of the employee pension fund went?

While other US Bishops, including some fellow Texas bishops, have released the names of their pedophile priests, Bishop Peña has refused to go public with the names of those priests within the Brownsville diocese who have been asked to leave public ministry because of their KNOWN (not alleged) sexual abuse of minors. This decision on his part has left these guilty priests free to live and work within our community, putting our children at great risk.

He also demoted a pastor to “parish administrator” for participating in a Labor Day press conference and march supporting justice for all workers.

He was also responsible for the destruction of a progressive parish in north McAllen and thereafter awarded some priests the title of “monsignor”, presumably for their assistance in this action.

And perhaps the saddest of all, according to the late Bishop Fitzpatrick, while Bishop Peña called for particular care to the elderly, he never once went to visit Bishop Fitzpatrick during his retirement, let alone, as he was dying of cancer. Bishop Fitzpatrick lived in a parish within close proximity of the Chancery.

This is a short list. Much more could be added. But, suffice it to say, we look forward to the retirement of Bishop Raymundo Peña and hope and pray that it comes quickly.

Concerned Catholics of the Rio Grande Valley


Anonymous said...

We have all missed being kept up to date on all the happings. Please continue your good work!

Anonymous said...

What a sad indictment of the corruption of power when the Gospel message is set aside in order to manage and administrate. What pain he has inflicted. Does he ever see the injustice, the cruelty, the inhumanity that he, a supposed follower of Christ, has committed. Who can forgive you Bishop? Do you even care? Or is it all worth it to you when you sit in your luxurious house, surrounded and isolated by your fawning courtiers.

Anonymous said...

Who decided, on behalf of the diocese, the amount of the settlement that was paid to Bishop Pena's mother? The Bishop?

As with many of the actions of this bishop, they may have been perfectly legal, but were they moral? Same with the cashing-in of the lay retirement fund, the firing of the staff at Holy spirit, giving "Monsignor" status to those priests who aided with his dirty work, etc.

What a prime example he has been as the spiritual leader of our diocese!

Anonymous said...

All Valley catholics owe the lay diocesan employees of the Valley a big debt of gratitude! Bishop Pena used all of our hard earned retirement funds to pay off his pedophile priest settlements. Had he not confiscated our $14 million dollar retirement fund, all of you Valley Catholics would have had to dig deep into your pockets to cover it!
Sad thing is, just look at what we ended up with under his "substitute retirement fund". You remember, that's the one that he told us was going to be "much more valuable" in the long run because it would be tied to the STOCK MARKET, not to CASH! Last time I looked, it was down below 40% of it's original value. Thank you so much Bishop Pena, I so much look forward to living out my retirement “has todo con amor!” What a joke!

Anonymous said...

The lay employees of the Brownsville diocese are really the ones that paid the price for all the bishop's settlements for the pedophile priests. They are STILL PAYING because of their diminished retirement fund. What a shame.
My question remains, why doesn't our bishop release the names of all of his pedophile priests so we can protect our children from them?

Anonymous said...

Two things:

First, the lay employees have at one time or another received anonymous mailings from someone in McAllen, containing copies of letters indicting Bishop Pena for a host of immoral crimes. These letters are being sent to the wrong people because most of the employees are sheep awaiting a new shepherd. These are the realists. A small minority have their heads up their asses so deep that you have to unbutton their shirts to say hello. These are the loyalists. Either way, letters to them won't help whoever is sending them.

Second, if your homely, pimple faced kid is an altar server, he is safe. If your athletic, handsome and all around good natured kid is an altar server and Father takes an interest in him, be a good parent and pull your kid away from that ministry!!! It IS that simple, stupid parents.