Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finally... "Hand Of God" on KMBH-TV

Are They Showing It? YES!
Time and Date are Correct.

Decan Alvin Gerbermann

Deacon relieved of some duties
Kaitlin Bell
February 27, 2007

McALLEN — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville has temporarily barred the deacon of Holy Spirit church from delivering homilies during Mass, after complaints that he blamed parents for not keeping their children away from predatory priests.

Diocese spokeswoman Brenda Riojas said Tuesday that Bishop Raymundo Peña has asked Deacon Alvin Gerbermann to undergo additional training before he gives any more homilies, the remarks made during Mass that explain a selection of Bible passages.

The training will include a program about preventing sexual abuse called “Protecting God’s Children,” which the diocese created after revelations of child molestation within the Catholic Church. In addition, Gerbermann will be required to retake a course taught by the diocese on how to give homilies, Riojas said.

The remarks that prompted the outcry from some parishioners and local members of the church reform group Call to Action occurred during Sunday Mass on Feb. 18. News of the controversy also attracted statements from national groups calling for reform in the church.

Gerbermann published a short apology in Holy Spirit’s Sunday bulletin for words that “may have caused misunderstanding.”

He added: “I’m truly sorry if I offended anyone.”

Gerbermann, reached on his cell phone Tuesday afternoon, said he did not have time to respond to questions, as he was occupied at the time. He did not respond to a message left on his cell phone Tuesday night.

Neither Gerbermann nor the church has made clear whether a written copy of the homily exists, nor have they provided the text of those remarks.

The Rev. Louis Brum, the priest at Holy Spirit, also said Tuesday afternoon he did not have time to talk. He did not respond to a message left on his phone Tuesday night.

Gerald Brazier, the president of Call to Action’s local chapter, reacted with surprise to news of Gerbermann’s required training.

“So he has to go through some retraining? Oh my heavens,” Brazier said.

“They did a lot more than I ever thought they would,” he added, referring to the diocese.
But Call to Action members and some parishioners said they were still not satisfied by Gerbermann’s mea culpa.

Call to Action issued a statement saying, in part, “The Deacon claims that his remarks were ‘misunderstood’ and that he apologizes ‘if he offended anyone.’ There is no hypothetical at play here, people were offended.”

The statement also criticized Brum, who was present at the Mass when Gerbermann delivered his homily, for his remarks last week that parishioners taking umbrage at the statements were misinterpreting Gerbermann’s intent.

Parishioner Harold Mosher, who had been an outspoken and early critic of the remarks, also called the apology insufficient.

“The deacon's apology consisted of three sentences placed in the parish bulletin,” Mosher wrote in an e-mail.~“He did not even show up for the 12:30 mass on Sunday.”

Brum had said last week that Gerbermann would be away over the weekend because of other commitments.

Kaitlin Bell covers Mission, western Hidalgo County and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4446.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hand Of God on KMBH-TV?

I have received underground notice that KMBH-TV, our Catholic Diocses controlled Public Broadcasting Station, will be showing the previously censored "Hand Of God" documentary film on Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 7:30 pm.

I applaud KMBH-TV for answering the demands of their local viewers and for correcting their censorship actions of this previously scheduled documentary film.

I have not, to date, seen any announcement or publication of this showing. Maybe someone should tell KMBH-TV management that their corrective actions could all be in vain if they do not properly promote the showing! None of their schedules have been updated to show this planned showing and I have seen no promotional announcements. What good is showing this film if you keep it a secret and don't make a public announcement of when it will be shown?

Having previously viewed this film at the local screening provided by the Call To Action group, I strongly suggest that you not only view this great film but that you also RECORD IT. I have seen it twice and there were lots of things that I missed on my first viewing. I know many folks that are planning to watch the film as a group so that they can discuss it within their group after viewing. Anybody wanna come to my "Hand Of God" Viewing Party?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

More on Deacon Gerbermann


February 25, 2007

We are encouraged by the fact that Bishop Peña will be taking “some action against Deacon Gerbermann” for his remarks during a homily at Holy Spirit Parish last weekend and were pleased that the Deacon was to make a personal apology this Sunday. We look forward to hearing what the Bishop’s action will be, but are very disappointed at the form and content of the Deacon’s statement today, February 25th.

Deacon Gerbermann did not make a personal apology, as the pastor of the parish indicated that he would, but instead he had a statement inserted in the Sunday Bulletin. In this statement, the Deacon claims that his remarks were “misunderstood” and that he apologizes “if he offended anyone.” There is no hypothetical at play here, people were offended. The Deacon’s characterization of his remarks of the previous Sunday does not match how those remarks were described by parishioners present at that Mass. It is difficult to see how this statement, which does not accept responsibility for what was said and does not include an unconditional apology, is an action which sets the scales right.

We are also very disturbed by the remarks of Monsignor Brum, the pastor of Holy Spirit, that are quoted in the February 23rd edition of the McAllen Monitor.

The Monsignor was the celebrant of the Mass on February 18th at which the Deacon spoke and so heard first hand what was said. He, based on his remarks to the Monitor, does not seem to think the Deacon said anything requiring an apology, since he did not ask the Deacon to provide one.

The Monsignor goes on to say that the offended people misunderstood the Deacon’s remarks. On the contrary, they understood them in exactly the same way that the Monsignor did, namely, that parents share responsibility when their children have been sexually abused by a priest. The question is, why wasn’t the Monsignor offended?

If a principal of a local valley school would have publicly stated that parents share responsibility when their children have been sexually abused by a teacher, that principal would have been clearing out his or her office before the end of business that day. It is difficult to understand why Monsignor Brum did not demand an apology from the Deacon, why he does not share his parishioners’ outrage at the remarks, and ultimately why he does not take responsibility, as pastor, for what is preached from the pulpit by his own employee.

We hope that the Bishop, who is ultimately responsible, will take steps very soon to not only discipline both the Deacon and the Monsignor for their remarks, but to take whatever actions are necessary to insure that there is proper oversight of the administration of Holy Spirit Parish.

Gerald Brazier

for Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley
February 25, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gerbermann Apology?

Parishioners saddened by lack of a personal apology from Deacon Alvin Gerbermann

February 24, 2007

According to The Monitor newspaper, the deacon from Holy Spirit Catholic Parish was going to issue a public apology at each mass this weekend for comments made in his homily about how parents were responsible for the sexual abuse of their children by Catholic clergy, as well as, for his statements that the laity of the Catholic Church should not criticize their bishop, priests or deacons because they are "anointed by God".

Well, it seems this "anointed one" was a no-show, opting instead to publish a small blurt in the Sunday Bulletin claiming: "I realize now that my words and examples may have caused some misunderstanding. I am truly sorry if I offended anyone and I apologize."

When asked by one of the parishioners at the Saturday, 5:30 pm Mass why the deacon would not be making his personal apology, a church worker said, "Oh, he had other more important things already scheduled for this week-end!" More important things than calming your highly disgruntled parishioners? Go figure..

And so the saga continues at Holy Spirit...

Friday, February 23, 2007

More on Deacon Alvin Gerbermann

Holy Spirit deacon to apologize for homily

Kaitlin Bell
February 22, 2007 - 11:39PM

McALLEN — The deacon from Holy Spirit Church plans to issue a public apology this weekend for comments he made Sunday about priests and the sexual abuse of children.

Additionally, the Diocese of Brownsville plans to take “some action” against Gerbermann, although spokeswoman Brenda Riojas would not disclose Thursday what that would be.

Some parishioners had complained that a homily Deacon Alvin Gerbermann gave during Sunday Mass blamed parents for not keeping their children away from predatory priests.

Their complaints were followed by a small protest held against the deacon during Ash Wednesday evening services.

Gerbermann, who is a “permanent deacon” and therefore not a member of the clergy, referred questions about his apology to Rev. Louis Brum, Holy Spirit’s pastor.

“I have spoken through my pastor,” Gerbermann said. On Monday, he had declined any type of comment.

Brum said the decision to give the apology came out of two discussions he had with Gerbermann. But he stressed he did not insist Gerbermann apologize.

Brum also said he believed some parishioners had misunderstood Gerbermann’s message.

“I have met with the deacon and I understood he spoke from his heart,” Brum said. “My understanding, being a priest, was that he was calling for our awareness to be responsible, that the responsibility comes both on the families, as it comes on the priests.”

Riojas said Thursday evening she could not comment on the nature of the action the diocese was planning regarding Gerbermann, saying Bishop Raymundo Peña wanted to inform the deacon himself before publicly disclosing his decision.

Harold Mosher, one of the Holy Spirit parishioners who originally spoke out against Gerbermann’s remarks, said he was pleasantly surprised by news of Gerbermann’s planned apology and possible action from the diocese, because the diocese usually tries to keep such matters quiet in hopes they will go away.

Holy Spirit previously attracted some controversy when it fired several unionized lay workers, who were later reinstated as part of a legal settlement.

“Believe me, for this diocese, it’s a step forward. It really is,” Mosher said. “And I’m glad something’s being done.”

He added, “We just felt so bad for the parents of the victims. The comments he made were just so insensitive.”

Gerald Brazier, who heads the local chapter of the Church reform group Call to Action and participated in the group’s protest Wednesday evening, said Thursday he was not yet prepared to comment on the decision for Gerbermann to apologize. Brazier did not hear the homily, but spoke out about its general themes Monday.

About 10 people had participated in the protest, in bumper-to-bumper Ash Wednesday traffic near Holy Sprit in North McAllen.

Several of the protestors called for the deacon's firing or resignation.

“The homily is a time for teaching the word of the church,” said Bridget Cook, a Holy Spirit parishioner and member of Call to Action. “And to speak those words is harmful to those who were in the audience who may have been abused.”

The protestors stood on the corner of 23rd Street and Martin Avenue — public property just beyond church grounds. Some held signs saying “Deacon must resign,” while others used the occasion to call on the diocese to release the names of priests accused of abuse.

Most passersby didn't register a reaction, although some did honk their horns in approval.

Monitor staff writer Michael Barnett contributed to this report.
Kaitlin Bell covers Mission, western Hidalgo County and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4446.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Harold Mosher's letter to The Monitor

Woe To All The Parents
of Sex Abused Children

February 18, 2007
McAllen, TX

On February 18, 2007, Alvin Gerbermann, a deacon at Holy Spirit Catholic Parish in McAllen, delivered a homily that centered on the sexual abuse issue that has plagued the Church for a number of years.

He instructed the congregation to stop criticizing the bishop, priests and deacons for what happened to these young people. He said that the real fault rested with the parents of the victims. They should have warned their children not to enter rectories or convents alone. You, the parents of the victims, and the victims, are the cause of these profound indecencies leveled against your children. He stated that the priests are the anointed ones and are the representatives of Christ on earth.

Was that the case for each of them? Once again the Diocese has chosen to defer the responsibility of these actions onto anyone but itself. You, the parents of these victims, have now become the culprits.

When will the blame ever be accepted by the Church? When will the Church ever accept responsibility? Will the victims be the next to be blamed?

Woe to the Diocese and its leaders. Your justice shall arrive.

"Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep" (Luke 6:25)

Harold Mosher
Holy Spirit Parishioner

Barbara Dorris - SNAP

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis
SNAP Outreach Director (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
(314) 862 7688

Brownsville Catholic officials should discipline Deacon Alvin Gerbermann.

Remarks like his intimidate victims and witnesses into staying silent and ignoring or tolerating those hurt.

Gerbermann apparently doesn’t understand that blaming the parents if their child is abused is the same as blaming the victim of a sexual assault.

Gerbermann, an ordained member of the clergy, also seems to hold the Church and the molester blameless in these crimes. He failed to mention that Church officials recruited, trained, employed and supervised (or failed to supervise) the predators. He failed to mention that the predators not only committed a grievous sin, they committed a felony in civil law.

In neither situation is the victim blamed, the perpetrator is supposed to be held accountable for the crimes.

It's also sad that the Brownsville Diocese's public relations staffer refused to condemn Gerbermann's hurtful, insensitive and intimidating remarks.

Once again the Catholic hierarchy is choosing to defend a clergyman rather than helping the victims and kids.

Newsletter of 02/18/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—February 18, 2007

More Gumby
“…[the furor over Bishop Tom Gumbleton being refused permission to speak anywhere in the dioceses of Phoenix or Tucson] dramatizes the futility of insisting that Catholics not think, discuss or entertain ‘dissenting notions’ about teachings such as women in the church and homosexuality.

“…We bet that any number of Gumbleton talks, by the way, might be digitally transferred, e-mailed, uplinked, downloaded—the possibilities are many—for those who might like to hear what he has to say on any number of subjects.

“Attempting to put up borders to interrupt the flow of information and keep unwanted thinkers at bay is an act of monarchy as futile and outdated as a castle moat.

“It is an authoritarian act that, in the doing, only further dissipates the already tattered authority of the Catholic hierarchy.

“Men and women today will not stop thinking or gathering information on topics they find compelling because some ecclesiastical figure insists that they must do so. Nor will they refrain from asking questions that derive from their own experience. One might as well insist, upon religious principles, that the earth is the center of the universe.”
from National Catholic Reporter, February 16, 2007

In the February 5th issue of America, the Jesuit-published magazine, there is an interesting article by Daniel S. Mulhall, who works for the USCCB Office of Catechesis. It is entitled “Building Inclusive Communities” and contains a set of suggestions for unifying a diverse parish:
1. Know your people
2. Set up a multicultural advisory committee
3. Work for the complementarity of cultures
4. Develop structures to deal with cultural tensions
5. Encourage conversation and interaction
6. Listen

Now, the target of Mulhall’s advice is those parishes that are culturally diverse in the ethnic sense, but we should realize that in our Church today there are cultures that are just as different, one from another, as that of newly arrived immigrants is from that of an established American parish.

This is the culture gap between, put in an over-simplified way, those who watch EWTN and those who read the NCR. As the last issue of this newsletter talked about, we Catholics are in a big tent and it is the obligation of those directing a diocese or a parish to build an inclusive community for everyone—it’s a six-step program!

From the Mouth of Babes
The season of Lent is upon us. There is something about this season that I have always found comforting. I like the simplicity and the time to refocus. Life has been hectic (in a good way) lately and I have been wondering how to find a way to calm the storm. Leave it to my youngest to provide me with the answer. He reminded me, in church no less, that we are all children of God. Lent is a time to become that child again, to embrace faith with the totality that a child does—unconditional, nothing held back. Children have a capacity to love fully and see things with a clarity that we adults sometimes lose. My youngest, who is all of four and a half, managed to sum up in a few short words Eucharist and Jesus’ message of love. He is ready to jump in and celebrate resurrection. I think I want to grow up and be like him during this Lent.

Here is what he said. He has been asking me why I can’t share my communion bread with him and why he can’t go to communion like everyone else. I have been answering him as best I can, and in my best gentle adult voice tell him that our communion bread is special because it is Jesus. And his big blue eyes looked up at me with absolute acceptance of this fact. Then the look changed to one of slight frustration and he tells me, “But Mom, Jesus would share with me.” In my heart, all I can say is “Amen.”
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $23,605.16 (last year same date: $23,716.56)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $58,565.84
Projected yearly shortfall: $169,190.20

This entry in the newsletter has been a feature since October 2005, the last time there was a financial report made to the Parish. That’s almost a year and half ago, and that report was for FY 2005, which ended in June 2005.

No matter whether a person watches EWTN or reads the NCR, he or she has to be appalled at this lack of financial responsibility to the Parish by both the Monsignor and the Finance Committee. The Monsignor’s slipshod management is well documented, but Canon Law provides for oversight, of at least of the financial matters of the Parish, by responsible lay people through the mechanism of the Finance Committee. Each member of that committee needs to be called to task and asked that an accounting be made to the Parish.

More than the home of the ‘Zags, that gritty bunch of boys from Gonzaga University who shake up the NCAA basketball tournament periodically, Spokane (WA) is the diocese of Bishop William Skylstad, who is the current president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

As part of the Spokane diocese’s settlement of clergy sex abuse claims, Skylstad will visit every parish where abuse took place and read a letter from the pulpit identifying the pedophile priests who served there. Skylstad has also pledged support to the removal of criminal statutes of limitations in child sexual abuse cases, and has promised to write a letter of apology to any victim who wants one.

This is an example that our own Bishop Peña would be well advised to follow.

“Bishops, priests and deacons cannot be criticized because they are anointed by God.” Deacon Alvin Gerbermann, from the pulpit at Holy Spirit, 2/18/07. (not his only sage comment that day)

“I am different, a person set apart.” Father Anthony Laurano, the last pastor of St. Mary’s Italian in Salem (MA), January 2003.

“Anthony Laurano, a suspended priest awaiting trial in connection with an alleged rape of an 8-year-old boy was charged yesterday with four counts of sexually molesting a 30-year-old mentally retarded man who lives near him in Hull (MA).”
from the Boston Globe, 4/27/06
Apparently you are different, Father Anthony.

“Former Cleveland Catholic Bishop Anthony Pilla received $177,000 in money and furniture over a decade from an off-the-books church account set up to hide the transactions, a former diocesan official said.” from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/19/07

Apparently, Bishop Anthony is different, also. These two anointed Anthonys are probably looking at being set apart—this time by the criminal justice system.

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on to fellow parishioners, either by e-mail or paper. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at

More On Our Deacon

Parishioners say Deacon's comments blame parents for sex abuses

Kaitlin Bell
February 20, 2007 - 12:27AM

McALLEN — Some members of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish are decrying a deacon’s comments on priests’ sexual abuse of children that he made during Sunday Mass.

The parishioners say church deacon Alvin Gerbermann told them parents — not the Roman Catholic Church — are to blame for any abuse their children suffer at the hands of priests.

They said they are angry and hurt by what they described as a yet another example of the Church failing to take responsibility for its role in the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the institution in recent years.

“I think what we’ve been experiencing is that the diocese — and not only the Diocese of Brownsville, but other dioceses as well — seem to be projecting the reason for this on the people [who suffered the abuse], rather than on those who committed the abuse. And this homily seemed like just another attempt to do this,” said Harold Mosher, a longtime parishioner who heard the homily at Sunday’s Mass.

When reached by phone, Gerbermann refused to comment before he could even hear questions on the subject. “In that case there’s no comment. Bye,” he said, abruptly hanging up.

The homily, a portion of Mass explaining a selection of Bible readings, came the same day that members of a local Catholic lay group screened a documentary about the Church’s sex abuse scandals at Cine el Rey in McAllen. The Diocese of Brownsville, which controls the local PBS affiliate, had caught flak over its decision not to air the documentary during the station’s regular programming several weeks earlier.

Parishioners said they weren’t sure if Gerbermann’s timing was coincidental or intentional — but either way, he expressed opinions they said they did not care to hear.

Roland Quintanilla, who, like Mosher, has belonged to Holy Parish since its inception in the early 1980s, said he felt physically revolted by the deacon’s words.

Quintanilla said he has a close childhood friend who was sexually abused as a girl by their parish priest in Corpus Christi. He said the homily seemed just another case to him of blaming the victim — the last thing his friend or other abuse survivors need, he said.

“It wasn’t her fault and it wasn’t her parents’ fault,” Quintanilla said. “When I was hearing this, I just really — I started feeling sick to my stomach.”

Gerald Brazier, the president of a local Catholic reform group calling for more transparency in the Church, agreed. His group, the Rio Grande Valley chapter of Call to Action, helped arrange the Sunday screening of the PBS documentary. “Parents end up being just as much a victim as the young person was. So really when you step back, this is just blaming the victim,” Brazier said.

For his part, Mosher said he felt Gerbermann, who held his own parents up as exemplars because they never let him alone with a priest or nun, had painted the risk of sexual abuse by priests in overly broad strokes. Mosher said he counts several priests as his close friends and would never have considered telling his teenage daughter not to spend time with them.

Diocese spokeswoman Brenda Riojas took a different view of the problem of child sex abuse, saying that anyone could molest children and that both parents and the Church have a responsibility to protect them.

“The diocese believes strongly in the safety of a child,” she said. But she added, “It’s not just one group that we have to worry about.” Riojas declined to specifically comment on the homily, as she had neither seen nor read it. But she pointed to a program the diocese implemented several years back that trains all its employees and volunteers — not just priests — to ensure children’s wellbeing and safety.

Rev. Louis Brum, Holy Spirit’s pastor, did not return messages on Monday seeking comment.

This is not the first time controversy has brewed at Holy Spirit in recent years. The parish made local and national news when lay employees there and at three other Valley parishes unionized in 2002. Three of Holy Spirit’s employees later sued the Diocese, claiming they were fired in retaliation for their unionization. As part of a settlement, the Diocese reinstated the employees in 2003, but three of the employees left their jobs last fall, saying a bitter environment was too much to handle.

Quintanilla, who weathered that controversy, too, said he is still hoping Gerbermann will recant. “I would hope that he would apologize,” he said. “Because there might have been people in there that have been affected, too, and I was wondering how they felt, how they felt when they heard that statement.”
Kaitlin Bell covers Mission, western Hidalgo County and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4446. For this and other local stories visit

There was also an interesting comment in the Letters To The Editor section of the same newspaper:

To the editor:
There is an old adage that says, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one is entitled to their own facts.”

In a letter to the editors of local newspapers, Mr. Scott Walsh said “Hallman says the (clergy sex abuse) scandal was a pedophilia problem, when in fact most cases involved teenage victims and only a minute percentage involved pedophilia.”

Consider the following:

1) The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a research study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice entitled, The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States. On page 70 of this study, in table 4.3.2, it is reported that 60.07 percent of those abused indicated that the first instance of abuse occurred at age 13 or younger.

2) On the Web site the following appears as the definition of pedophilia: “People with pedophilia have fantasies, urges or behaviors that involve illegal sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).”

Apparently Mr. Walsh is either ignorant of these two facts, considers 60 percent a “minute percentage,” or has come to the conclusion that his opinion carries more weight than facts.

Gerald Brazier
Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley

Monday, February 19, 2007

Time Magazine

Interesting Article in TIME Magazine!

For our Deacon.

This One is for Our Deacon.

The Rights of Catholics
According to Canon Law

All Catholics have the right to express publicly their dissent in regard to decisions made by Church authorities. (C.212.3, C.218, C.753)

All Catholics have the right to a voice in all decisions that affect them, including the choosing of their leaders. (C.212.3)

All Catholics have the right to have their leaders accountable to them. (C.492, C.1287.2)

No one delights in criticizing their Bishop, Pastor or Deacon. Sometimes, however, we are left with no alternative and contrary to your statement from the pulpit last Sunday (8:30 Mass), our Church gives us every right to do so.

It’s Time Bishop Peña

It’s Time Bishop Peña

A Statement by Bishop Joseph Delaney of Fort Worth
June 10, 2005

Acting on behalf of Bishop Joseph Delaney, bishop of Fort Worth, Father Robert Wilson, chancellor and moderator of the curia of the diocese, read the following statement Friday, June 10, at a press conference at the central offices of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Delaney was unable to read the statement himself due to illness:

"Today I am releasing the names of the priests who were accused of sexual misconduct with minors since the founding of the Diocese of Fort Worth…

After continuing reflection and prayer, I have concluded that the interests of those who have been hurt in the past, who are my primary concern, will be best served by the release of the names of the accused…

I am grateful to those who have asked me to take this step. One positive effect this action will have is to exonerate the overwhelming majority of priests who have served faithfully throughout their priesthood…

Finally, I ask again that anyone who has been hurt by someone who serves the church, (clergy, church or school employee or volunteer) to come forward so that we can help with the healing process…"

Attachment: Assignment location history, dates and names of all priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors within the diocese of Fort Worth.

+Bishop Joseph Delaney
Fort Worth, TX

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Don't Miss This!

SUNDAY, Feb. 18th, 4:30 PM

Letter from Frontline

January 26, 2007

FRONTLINE deeply regrets the decision of KMBH not to run 'Hand of God,' a powerful and moving story of one man's encounter with abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest and the reaction of the victim's family when he comes forward 30 years later.

The broadcast is being streamed on our web site and we would encourage those who are able to view the film there. We also support the decision of independent filmmaker, Joe Cultrera, whose brother is the subject of the film, to make his film available to community groups and other interested parties who wish to see the story for themselves and make their own decision about its merits.

Louis Wiley

Executive Editor

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hand of God - The Paper

Director of censored documentary plans RGV appearance, with brother whose story of Catholic-clergy molestation is causing waves.

February 07, 2007
By David Robledo

No one is exactly sure how many children from the Rio Grande Valley have been molested by clergy from the Roman Catholic Church. That’s in large part to the refusal of the Brownsville diocese to open up confidential files that would show the public exactly how many local clergy have had complaints filed against them for child molestation, an act of public responsibility that has already been performed by many Catholic diocese throughout the country.

But a New York filmmaker and his brother who was molested in the Catholic Church are heading to the Rio Grande Valley next week to throw open the curtains on that hard-hitting issue, one that continues to haunt Rio Grande Valley residents who wish the Brownsville Diocese would be more open about the known problem of clergy-initiated child molestation.

On January 16, the Brownsville Diocese, which runs the local KMBH public television station, yanked a documentary film titled Hand of God from the regularly scheduled time slot, a showing that successfully took place at more than 340 public television stations throughout the United States.

The documentary, however, was not shown at three stations that are owned by religious entities, including the Harlingen-headquartered KMBH.

Brownsville Diocese Monsignor Pedro Briseño, who serves as general manager for KMBH, offered a public explanation two days after the censorship, blaming newspaper schedules and the right of the station to decide “daily relevance” of programming for the station’s failure to show the documentary at the nationally-scheduled time.

But, precisely because this censorship took place, Hand of God’s filmmaker Joe Cultrera has planned a showing of the documentary at McAllen’s Cine el Rey on Sunday, 2.18. With him will be his brother Paul, who, as a child, was molested by a Catholic clergyman in Salem, Massachusetts. Now 57 years old, Paul’s story, documented by his own filmmaker brother, is causing a stir throughout the country for being the first Catholic church molestation film recorded by a family who suffered through the problem.

Hand of God’s filmmaker Joe Cultrera spoke with The Paper last week by phone from his New York residence. He said that he’s still sorting through email, letters and phone calls resulting from the PBS airing of his documentary just two weeks ago. The film was picked up by Frontline, a PBS series that explores social and political issues. Though Frontline has a reputation for hard-hitting coverage, Hand of God seemed an especially poignant production for Frontline, giving the documentary a 90-minute time slot when the usual Frontline productions run only an hour.

Cultrera, who runs a small three-person film production company, said that he wasn’t necessarily surprised or disappointed that the Brownsville Diocese censored his documentary. “As a matter of fact you have to sort of expect something like that,” Cultrera said, pointing out that the Catholic Church has a history of keeping information related to child molestation in the shadows.

Cultrera was contacted last week by the Rio Grande Valley chapter of Call to Action, a Catholic Church reform group with about 50 members locally.

In fact it was Call to Action that sparked the awareness that the Diocese had censored Hand of God, when two of its RGV members wrote a letter to local media pointing out that the film failed to show in the Rio Valley in the time slot that it aired nationwide.

Cultrera grounds the story of his brother Paul in the details of their Sicilian-American Catholic upbringing. From baptism to abuse and resignation to action, the film follows Paul’s journey from potential priest to scathing critic, while chronicling the way that the abuse affected the inner workings of their close-knit family.

Hand of God, which was a self-funded project that first started in production in 2002, has received strong acclaim from some of the country’s most respected critics and journalists.
Alessandra Stanley from The New York Times called it “an affidavit against the Catholic archdiocese and a novena to the Cultrera son’s elderly parents, who revered the church, but loved their children more.”

Michael Moore, an acclaimed hard news journalist, describes Hand of God as “a symphony that builds through a leisurely first movement, quietly foreshadows a coming tempest, then unleashes itself. And when that tempest comes, it is a fine and glorious example of speaking truth to power.”

But despite the high praise, Cultrera keeps his feet on the ground. It’s more important for the average person to see his film, he said, especially those affected by child molestation in the Catholic Church.

And though the film is finding a market, he doesn’t expect to make any money off it. He produced it for other reasons.

“It’s a self-financed piece because I didn’t want any opinions to change. It’s a personal story, and I wanted it to be purely what we went through, to show how the abuse affects the people who lived it.”

The storyline begins in Salem, Massachusetts with Paul Cultrera’s baptism into the Catholic faith. By 1964, at the age of 14, Paul is an altar boy at St. James Parish in Salem under the guidance of a bright young priest, Father Joseph E. Birmingham. Paul becomes entrapped in a twisted sacramental cycle of abuse taking him from confession, to rectory “counseling” sessions, to nighttime rides in Birmingham’s Ford Galaxy, Joe explained.

In 1992, ten years before the Boston Globe makes clergy abuse public knowledge, Paul speaks of his abuse for the first time. Eventually, in search of therapy, he approaches the Archdiocese of Boston. Ironically, the person in charge of these complaints is Father John B. McCormack — a seminary classmate of Joseph Birmingham and a fellow priest with him at St. James.

Over time Paul becomes suspicious of McCormack’s statements and intentions. Sensing that McCormack is withholding information, he begins his own investigation, tracking Birmingham’s assignments from Sudbury to Salem, Lowell, Brighton, Gloucester and Lexington. He uncovers first-hand evidence that he is just one of probably a hundred Birmingham survivors, and it becomes obvious that McCormack — in his role as Director of Ministerial Personnel — has had a direct hand in at least one of Birmingham’s assignments and the dismissing of parishioner concerns. McCormack is elevated to Bishop, and Paul develops some harsh conclusions about blind faith, Joe explained.

Joe Cultrera said that both he and his brother will make the journey to McAllen for the Cine El Rey screening on their own dime, with Joe trekking in from New York and Paul making his way from California. The two will be available for questions and comment.

It’s a free show, but donations will be used to pay for the expenses of Joe and Paul, and any extra money will be used in promoting this film that is slowly but surely chiseling away at what was once an impermeable wall of subterfuge and silence that surrounded the Catholic Church’s darkest secret. •

Cine El Rey will screen Hand of God at 4:30 pm, Sunday, Feb.18th at 311 S. 17th, McAllen.

Links: and

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Readers Forum - Letters

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Column needs more facts

To the editor:
I found Fr. Nicolau’s article on pedophiles very interesting. Some of his information is correct, although it is lacking. He needs to talk about the high recidivism rate, particularly among perpetrators who are gay. And, there is a difference between the perpetrators receiving therapy and getting treatment. They need treatment.
He sizes up the consequences of the ‘immoral’ and ‘illegal” behavior, but doesn’t talk enough about the impact on those who are abused.
It is even more interesting that he did not talk at all about the problem of clergy who are pedophiles. With his knowledge, he needs to persuade Bishop Peña to do as the Bishop of Ft. Worth recently did: Release the names of the priests who have left active ministry after evidence indicated that they indeed are pedophiles. Without releasing the names, we cannot protect our children. These perpetrators live in our neighborhoods, teach in our schools, and counsel people. They have no criminal record. They have not gone to prison for their crimes.
I would also like to have Fr. Nicolau discuss another problem in our churches that is also immoral and illegal: Sexual exploitation and sexual harassment by clergy to other adults.

Ann Williams Cass,

Is CTA truly Catholic?

To the editor:
I love Guy Hallman’s weekly column!
I investigated Call to Action (CTA). Among other things, I read the text of speeches from their conferences. They are not faithful Catholics according to the Vatican (Hallman’s interpretation is flat misleading), and some of what I read does not pass any Christian denominational standard.
Ray Thomas questioned why CTA is constantly quoted in your paper, which hurts the credibility of your stories. Imagine a story on Catholic belief in sacraments, and quoting atheists! The Monitor is to investigative reporting like Dr. Seuss books are to theology~
The story about PBS programming raised valid questions. However, did the program accurately and fairly depict the scandal? Did it balance the scandal with the steps taken by the church to remedy the situation? Or was the program another attack job? The Monitor addressed none of those questions, and CTA’s interest certainly made me believe the latter. Case in point: Hallman says the scandal was a pedophilia problem, when in fact most cases involved teenage victims and only a minute percentage involved pedophilia. Hallman chose pedophilia because it sounded sensational, and like a self-righteous Pharisee he then attacked Mr. Thomas with his vicious misstatement. How ironic that a truthful Thomas is attacked by a leader of St. Doubting Thomas Church!
CTA hides behind a crusade that no one argues with — the sex abuse scandal. But no institution has gone so far as the Catholic Church to weed out the predators.
We should poll CTA nationally to see how many of them have been to confession lately. Oh, wait a minute. If I’m not mistaken, CTA doesn’t believe in sacramental confession because it requires resort to the male-dominated power structure that faithful Catholics call the “priesthood”?!

Scott Walsh,

Bishop Peña does a fine job

To the editor
The constant bishop bashing going on by the Valley’s so-called concerned Catholics irritates me. I especially take issue with the letter written by Pio Silvano in the Feb. 7 issue of The Monitor. It seems this individual and the many other critics think being a Catholic strictly relies on every word and action that Bishop Peña takes.
Bishop Pena is a representative of the Pope and is responsible for making sure we are aware of what being Catholic is all about. As Catholics, we are bound by our choice to truly understand all Church doctrine and carry them out without question. The main reason why so many Catholics are leaving the Church is not because of Bishop Peña, but the lack of will and good sense to truly abide by the directions sent to us through Jesus and his representatives on earth. For many of these so called Pentecostals and other breakaway religions, making religion a once-a-week happening is much easier than to truly live the life Jesus wants us to live. Being Catholic is difficult. It involves doing things that are contrary to the so-called norm. Instead of standing up for true Catholic doctrine, many choose to rationalize and try to mold it to their way of thinking. There is nothing wrong with how Bishop Peña is running the Diocese of Brownsville. The fault lies in all those wishy-washy Catholics that truly need to learn what their church is about.

Charles S. Zaremba,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Yep,... More 'Hand Of God'

'Hand of God' subject
to attend Valley screening.

Screening will be offered at no charge


Paul Cultrera, the subject of the controversial documentary "Hand of God," will attend a screening of the film on Feb. 18 at the Cine El Rey in McAllen.

"Hand of God" tells the story of Cultrera's sexual abuse at the hands of a parish priest in the Boston area, its long-term effects on his life and the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to cover it all up.

"Hand of God" is directed by Paul's brother Joe Cultrera, who will also attend the screening.

Both will be available for questions and discussion after the film.

The 4:30 p.m. screening is being offered at no charge by Call to Action Rio Grande Valley, the local branch of a nationwide organization seeking accountability - financial and otherwise - within the Catholic Church.

"This is a very personal story about Paul and what happened to him and the impact of that on the whole family," said CTARGV member Gerald Brazier.

"To have the subject of the documentary be able to reflect on the experience with people face to face could be a very powerful experience for the audience.

"It gives an immediacy to the story that just watching the film wouldn't give you."

Brazier said only 450 seats are available in the downtown McAllen theater.

"Hand of God" aired nationally Jan. 16 as part of the PBS series Frontline.

Controversy erupted when the local PBS affiliate KMBH did not air it during Frontline's normal prime time slot.

Founded under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, KMBH has its board of directors and general manager appointed by Bishop Reymundo Peña.

Frontline had originally planned to air another documentary, "News War" on Jan. 16.

When "News War" ran into production problems, "Hand of God" was chosen as a replacement.

Monsignor Pedro Briseño, president, CEO and general manager of KMBH, said the station was not informed in time to make the schedule change when the station's newsletter went to press in late December.

However, Frontline series manager Jim Bracciale confirmed Friday that stations were informed on Dec. 1 of the "Hand of God" schedule change.

After a Feb. 1 meeting of the KMBH board of directors, chairman Bill Elliott said those wishing to see "Hand of God" can call the station about receiving a free copy of the documentary.

In a Jan. 18 press release, the station said those requests are limited to current KMBH contributors and may take several weeks to fill.

Posted on the PBS Ombudsman's page
Feb. 9, 2007:

Censoring the ‘Hand of God’?
Two previous columns in January dealt in part with a Frontline documentary called the “Hand of God.” The second of those columns dealt with the circumstances surrounding the decision by a station in Texas (KMBH), managed by the local Roman Catholic diocese, not to air the documentary at its normal time but rather at 1 o’clock in the morning. The film dealt with child sexual molestation by priests in the Boston area.

Here is one more letter on the subject that I thought summed up the situation:

Monsignor Briseno’s explanation of the scheduling mix-up would appear on its face to be believable, but it wilts in light of the true facts. The Frontline program listed in the KMBH program guide, “News War,” was not available on Jan. 16 so KMBH did not air it in place of “Hand of God.” Instead, it is my understanding that the station elected to rerun the previous week’s edition of Frontline on Jan. 16, when the “Hand of God” episode was readily available that evening and already on the station’s on-line program schedule. It smells like censorship to me.

Edwin J. Cook
McAllen, TX

Vally Morning Star
8 Feb

KMBH story over; let's move on

What is all the commotion about? The "Hand of God," yet another documentary about the priest sex scandal, did not air on KMBH at the exact moment of its release by other stations.

Bruce Lee Smith saw an opportunity to report the station's failure to show it and to cast aspersions upon Monsignor Briseño and the Catholic-owned KMBH's decision not to air it. Mr. Smith demanded that Monsignor Briseño answer questions. Monsignor Briseño responded to the questions, asking only that responses be printed in their entirety. This should be the end of the story.

Instead, we have people crying for further investigations? Of what? Will every decision an executive director makes be subjected to the same ridiculous scrutiny? We have the Perezes whining about going off the air because they were treated like children. Still others write that Monsignor Briseño's responses read like a diatribe and that he should be fired. I did not read any bitterness in his responses, and this lynch mob mentality stuns me.

This story never should have made headlines. It was not the kind of "hard" news that I was taught in Journalism 101 should be run on the front page of a newspaper. I think we should move on.

Bertha Zuniga Campos

Valley Morning Star
Feb. 10

Call to Action part of attack on Christianity

It seems that KMBH opponents are showing their true colors. They are mostly a group named Call to Action. This organization is truly following in the footsteps of JUDAS - Just Undermine Doctrine and Spirituality.

While they claim to be Catholic, they promote a manmade religion of unfettered pro-sin "choice" by the individual answerable to no one but himself, while promoting the spirituality of pagans. One could call them the "mother of all dissenting groups."

CTA promotes dissent against church teachings on a broad front, including women's ordination, homosexuality, creation spirituality, married priesthood and liturgical reforms, while incorporating new age and Wiccan spirituality. Many members have been ex-communicated by the church up north. Many members belong to local groups called "small faith communities." The local CTA is out of Edinburg, with its contact having a University of Texas-Pan American e-mail.

We all have freedom of speech, but I believe the Valley Morning Star readers need to know who is leading the fight against KMBH. This is not just a Catholic issue; it's an attack on Christianity.

What's next? Will the city of Harlingen have to do away with its Christmas at the park tradition? Will McAllen have to end its posadas in the park tradition? We cannot allow the minority to silence the majority.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

Danny Villarreal

Monday, February 05, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter of 02/04/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—February 4, 2007

Texas Wins?
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Thirty-eight people have been put to death in the United States since May:

Six states executed one man each: Alabama executed Larry Hutch-erson, 37, Oct. 26. Mississippi executed Bobby Glen Wilcher, 43, Oct. 18. Montana executed David Dawson, 49, Aug. 11. North Carolina executed Samuel Flippen, 37, Aug. 18. South Carolina executed William Downs, 39, July 14. Tennessee executed Sedley Alley, 51, June 28.

Virginia executed three men: Brandon Hedrick, 27, July 20; Michael Lenz, 42, July 27; and John Yancey Schmitt, 33, Nov. 9.

Ohio executed three men: Darrell Ferguson, 28, Aug. 8; Rocky Barton, 49, July 12; and Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, Oct. 24.

Oklahoma executed four men: Eric Allen Patton, 49, Aug. 29; James Malicoat, 31, Aug. 31; John Boltz, 74, June 1; and Corey Hamilton, 38, Jan. 9.

Florida executed four men: Angel Diaz, 55, Dec. 13; Arthur Rutherford, 57, Oct. 18; Danny Rolling, 52, Oct. 25; and Clarence Hill, 48, Sept. 20.

Texas executed 18 men: Jermaine Herron, 27, May 17; Jesus Aguilar, 42, May 24; Timothy Titsworth, 34, June 6; Lamont Reese, 28, June 20; Angel Maturino Resendiz, 46, June 27; Derrick O’Brien, 31, July 11; Mauriceo Brown, 31, July 19; Robert Anderson, 40, July 20; William Wyatt Jr., 41, Aug. 3; Richard Hinojosa, 45, Aug. 17; Justin Chaz Fuller, 27, Aug. 24; Derrick Frazier , 29, Aug. 31; Farley Matchett, 43, Sept. 12; Gregory Summers, 48, Oct. 25; Donell Jackson, 33, Nov. 1; Willie Shannon, 33, Nov. 8; Carlos Granados, 36, Jan. 10; and Jonathan Moore, 33, Jan. 17.

Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 1,060 prisoners have been executed in the United States.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:

Lent and the Big Tent
Well, I try my best to be just like I am,
But everybody wants you to be just like them.
Bob Dylan

Last Lent a visiting homilist talked to the Parish about the “big, inclusive tent” that is the Church: from Joan Chittister to Mother Angelica; from Tom Gumbleton to Fabian Bruskewitz. There is a vast spectrum of opinion and practice in the Body of Christ and like Gary Coleman used to say, “different strokes for different folks.”

The spirituality and piety of some folks might strike others as strange and not for them, but those who talk about and practice the Gospel differently are not necessarily outside the tent. What we would not choose is not, by that fact alone, something that no one should be allowed to choose.

Consider, for example, the interesting history of retreat movements in the Church. They begin with the best of intentions and have great success in bringing people into a heightened spiritual life—prayer, becoming more aware of God in their lives, etc. Very frequently they have led to an inward turning, cult-like confraternity of the “elect” which can very easily view anyone with a different take on the spiritual life as in error and even the enemy of those in the movement. This has happened over and over again over the centuries in the Church and it’s too bad. It seems a very big price to pay for reconnecting folks with Christ and the Church. Think about the readings from Corinthians a few Sundays ago in which Paul spoke about the diversity of the Body of Christ and take them to heart.

The Center
We used to hear the phrase “The Eucharist: the center of our lives” so much during Mass that it almost became a game. How many times this Sunday? The phrase came back to me when thinking about a recently shared observation: As Catholics our history has more than its fair share of scandals, but the faithful keep coming because we are rooted in the Sacraments—even when they are presented badly.

I know just enough about liturgy to cringe most Sundays at the way we celebrate Mass. Last Sunday’s baptism celebration was particularly painful for me. But I keep coming because I am rooted in the Sacraments. I need Eucharist and to hear The Word and the living homily given to me by the community. I guess the phrase “the Eucharist: the center of our lives” became a game because so many of us were aware that we are surrounded by people who live that phrase. We come together each Sunday because we know deep within ourselves—in our center—that we need Eucharist to sustain and nurture us. I suspect a good amount of healing could happen in our parish family if all members of the community were seen, and could see each other, as revelations of that reality. The Eucharist is our center, we come to celebrate our center and we are the Body of Christ. Please don’t tell us what we already know, especially if you cannot see us for who we are. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Notes on the Media
First there was Monsignor Briseño and his ham-handed actions at KMBH, followed by his embarrassing remarks to the media in the aftermath. An official at PBS has pointed out, just a few days ago, that the Monsignor’s claim of not being informed at least 26 days in advance of the change in programming for January 16th is simply false. All affiliates were informed on December 1st (47 days prior, for the math challenged) of the change which put “Hand of God” on the schedule.

In the middle of all this questioning of the involvement of the Church in public broadcasting, we have the Bishop announcing a Lenten sacramental preparation program that will be broadcast in primetime over KMBH during the first four weeks of Lent. Does this really allay the fears of the general public about a too cozy relationship of local PBS with Catholicism?

Finally we have Monsignor Nicolau’s column about the sexual abuse of children which rails against the people who commit these crimes—they need to be prosecuted, victims need justice, etc. Odd that he fails to mention the responsibility that the Church has towards the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and the responsibility that the Church has to resolve this scandal in a full, just and open manner. Why did he not call for the Bishop to release the names of the sexually abusive priests of the Diocese of Brownsville?

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $22,223.00 (last year same date: $24,077.14)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $53,299.16
Projected yearly shortfall: $173,222.27

Babies and Bottles
Abortion counseling is a powerful and important ministry. It is one of several tools that will decrease the number of abortions. Please know that the ministry that is supported by the “Baby Bottle” campaign in the Parish is part of the work of the fundamentalist Faith Pleases God church. You would think we would be able to muster a Catholic witness in this work and not partner with a church that attacks Catholicism as part of its proselytizing efforts.

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on to fellow parishioners, either by e-mail or paper. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Letters Re: Hand Of God


The Monitor
February 4, 2007

‘Hand of God’ should have been aired

To the editor:
Censorship has reared its ugly head again. Why did our local PBS affiliate refuse to air the documentary Hand of God?

Oh, sure, the owner, Diocese of Brownsville, gave an explanation (even going as far as to take out space in the paper for it).

They said this, they said that. They can say whatever they want, but come on. Who do they think they’re fooling? Not I, not the parents of the kids who have been molested, not the adults who have been damaged because of what was done to them, and most importantly, not the kids who are suffering now because of some priest’s inappropriate behavior.

If the local station refused to air the special because it was “inappropriate,” I’ll tell them what’s inappropriate.

It’s inappropriate to take advantage of kids who look up to them for guidance.
It’s inappropriate to lie about it. It’s inappropriate for officials to look the other way when one of their own has misbehaved.

It’s inappropriate to knowingly transfer pedophile priests to other churches, thereby giving them a batch of new victims.

The above-mentioned behavior is called enabling. By refusing to air this documentary, KMBH is guilty of exactly that.

Veronica Anzaldua,

please remember that KMBH has offered a free DVD of Hand of God to anyone who requests it. I suggest that we all take them up on it.

Call: (800) 433-2522, or click the following link to request yours:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Even More 'Hand Of God'

'Hand of God' might make KMBH appearance in March.


HARLINGEN - The board of directors for RGV Educational Broadcasting, which oversees KMBH-TV, said Thursday night that management would attempt to find an appropriate time in March to air the documentary "Hand of God."

The program on the child molestation scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston caused local controversy when KMBH, the local Public Broadcasting System affiliate, did not air it at the usual "Frontline" prime-time slot on Jan. 16.

At a board of directors meeting Thursday, board chairman Bill Elliott allowed the public to speak.

"I would have been very interested to hear the real answers to these questions" about the program not airing, said Rio Hondo resident Ann Hope.

When asked if there would be any response to questions about why the station did not air the program, Elliott said, "This is not a debate."

Lisa Brodyaga of San Juan said she had been disappointed in the station's programming for some time, saying it "turned into Catholicism rather than education."

"Not showing 'Hand of God' was the last straw," she said. "That's what motivated me to come to this meeting ... I feel a duty to speak out."

Students at Texas State Technical College also were concerned, according to their instructor, Sally Bishop Merrill.

"I live for this station, but my students are asking, 'Why did the station not broadcast 'Hand of God?'" Merrill said. "What was the reason? I'm not particularly interested in the program, but my students in ethics and world religion are asking."

After the viewers spoke, Elliott addressed the issue of diverse programming. He said the station is working on raising funds to get more programming, but did not address "Hand of God."

At the end of the meeting, the last issue the directors addressed was the concerns from viewers about "Hand of God." Elliott asked the station's president and CEO, Monsignor Pedro Briseño, if it was possible to air the program at an "appropriate," prime-time slot.

Because the schedule for February already has been completed, nothing could be done, Briseño explained.

"I will look into the possibility during the month of March," Briseño said.

Briseño and Elliott said the possibility of airing the documentary in prime time would be discussed at their next meeting, which is officially March 19, but they anticipate holding the meeting earlier.

"In March, staff has time to find a slot so people can see it," Elliott said in an interview after the meeting.

Elliott said viewers who wish to see the documentary can call the station about receiving a free DVD.

"I think a great deal of the discussion has been some significant misunderstanding," he said. "I know that 'Hand of God' was important to some individuals and I appreciate that."

Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley, the local chapter of a national group seeking accountability in the Roman Catholic Church, requested that the program be aired in prime time and also requested that management make a public statement about the show not airing, calling it an "error in judgment."

When asked to respond to the request for a public statement, Elliott said, "I saw the request."

CTA-RGV member Edwin J. Cook of McAllen said directors still dismissed the issue of responding to the public's concerns.

"They were obviously standing behind Monsignor Briseño's statements, which doesn't make sense to me," Cook said. "It's a half-hearted attempt to rectify the situation ... It's a lame attempt to address the issue."

"Hand of God" will be shown for free at Cine El Rey in McAllen on Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.