Archbishop of Quito reminds faithful parish is not NGO

In a letter published Wednesday, Archbishop Raul Vela of Quito, Ecuador, explained to the faithful that the decision to send two priests back to Spain conforms to Canon Law and that “a parish is not a political party, a union or an NGO.  Its essence and its methods are different.”

Just a few days after the two Spanish priests—who were engaged in political and social activity at the expense of the parish’s sacramental life—organized parishioners to unite in defying the archbishop’s request for their return to Spain, Archbishop Vela and the Presbyteral council of Quito said the actions by the priests had “deeply wounded the communion of our Church.”

The two priests, Father Miguel Olmedo and Father Jose Luis Molina, both originally from the Diocese of Jerez in Spain, were working at the parish of Santa Maria del Inti.

“We had preferred to remain respectfully silent, limiting ourselves to clarifications requested by some of the media.  Today we feel it is necessary to inform the Catholic faithful of what has occurred and to ask them that in truth, fraternity and prayer, we might strengthen unity as Jesus commanded us: ‘That they may all be one’,” the archbishop’s letter noted.

The statement clarifies that the archbishop has named a new pastor for the parish, “in accord with the dispositions of the Code of Canon Law,” and the Bishop of Jerez asked Molina and Olmedo to return to their diocese.

The Spanish priests were renowned for their adherence to liberation theology and had stopped offering Sunday Mass at the parish.  In his letter the archbishop noted, “The parish is first of all at the service of the Word of God, which is its fundamental dimension, and from of the Eucharist, source and summit of the life of the faithful, it carries out its missionary and social activity in the world.  This spiritual dimension is central and fundamental and without it, the Church and her structures cease to be the community of disciples desired by Jesus.”

He also underscored that “a theology based on liberation from all spiritual and material slavery, liberation that comes from Christ the Redeemer, is not only allowable, it is necessary and it demands that all Catholics work for a world that is more humane, more just and united.”

Lastly the archbishop prayed that “the painful events we have suffered will motivate all disciples of Jesus so that with renewed enthusiasm, in full communion with the Pope and the bishops, we might work together in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of holiness, of justice, of love and of peace, with special preference, as the Lord Jesus had, for the poor.”

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