"Rest assured that contrary to Fr. Nix's claims, he has been paid the full salary due to him, which of course is a documented fact," Aquila said. "We have tried to speak with Fr. Nix, but he fails to show up for scheduled meetings, is hard to get ahold of, and even just yesterday he rebuked [Denver auxiliary] Bishop Rodriguez."
"We will continue to try to help Fr. Nix, if he will let us."
Nix was ordained eight years ago for the Archdiocese of Denver. In the first four years of his ministry he had four parochial assignments in what he refers to on his website as "novus ordo parishes." According both to his own blog and to the Archdiocese of Denver, Nix found it difficult to settle in any of these parishes.
Aquila's letter explained that "It reached a point where, after four failed parish assignments, it became very difficult to find a pastor who would receive Fr. Nix as a parochial vicar. In the face of this difficulty, my staff and I have continued to work hard to find an assignment for him, including with various groups outside of the Archdiocese."
In 2014, Nix was permitted to seek ministry in other dioceses and with religious orders, often asking to celebrate the sacraments according to the extraordinary form of the liturgy. In each case, he was eventually asked by the other dioceses to return to Denver, the archdiocese said. More recently, Nix said he had asked the Archdiocese of Denver to allow him live as a hermit in the archdiocese.
Nix's website contains numerous postings on his travels, reflections on liturgy, and other Church related matters. In some posts, he writes about what he sees as the infiltration of the priesthood by "communists, gays, and freemasons."
Several priests in the archdiocese told CNA that they remembered Nix from his time in parish ministry, but did not wish to have their names made public.
One such priest told CNA that the behavior detailed in Aquila's letter was familiar.
"When I read Archbishop's letter, I was not surprised to hear Fr. Nix had threatened him in that way. Years ago, Fr. David made a similar threat to undermine me in my ministry if I didn't accede to demands he made," the priest told CNA.
Another priest told CNA that Nix had told him he was initially held back from ordination because of "psychological issues."
For his part, Nix insists that he is a priest "in good standing" and noted in his post online that the archdiocese have not restricted his faculties in any way. The Archdiocese of Denver also stressed that no disciplinary action had been taken against him.
(Story continues below)
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CNA attempted to reach Fr. Nix for comment, but calls to his phone went unanswered.
Aqulia stressed to the priests of Denver that he had not wished for the situation to become either public or acrimonious, telling them that in priest personnel matters "it is the Archdiocese's and my practice to honor confidentiality."
In this situation, he said, "because Fr. Nix is attacking the Church, my staff, and me, and is speaking about these things in a very public way, it is necessary to be clear with you about this matter."
The letter concluded with the archbishop asking the priests of Denver "not to be mad or upset with Fr. Nix, but instead we must always act with compassion and caring."
J.D. Flynn, editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency, worked for the Denver archdiocese from 2007-2013. Flynn has recused himself from coverage of this story to avoid a conflict-of-interest. He was not involved in the assigning, reporting, editing or oversight of this story.