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Division in the Guatemalan Catholic Church: Excommunicated Priest to be Ordained a Bishop
Prensa Libre (Spanish-language article) ^ | October 22, 2007 | Gema Palencia & César Pérez

Posted on 10/22/2007 8:58:46 AM PDT by rrstar96

(English-language translation)

The Catholic Church hierarchy in Guatemala is concerned: excommunicated priest Eduardo Aguirre will be ordained a bishop on Saturday in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, by represenatives of the Brazilian Church (non-Roman Catholic).

Guatemalan Bishops' Conference (CEG) President Álvaro Ramazzini described the event as a "very big" division.

"Being appointed bishop will give [Aguirre] more power. It concerns us that he will now ordain other priests before other people, which may create confusion since the faithful might believe that [the priests] are Catholic. There will be a very big division within the Church," warned Ramazzini, who explained that Aguirre cannot call himself a Catholic bishop, because he will not be appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Catholic Church's concern stems from the fact that this group imparts "blessings" and administers "sacraments" without Rome's consent.

Aguirre was excommunicated on August 15, 2006 for having distanced himself "from the communion and the norms of his priesthood" when founding in 2003 the Saint Mary of the New Exodus Community which gathered Catholics, Christians, and representatives of other denominations.

At that time, [Archbishop of Guatemala City] Rodolfo [Cardinal] Quezada Toruño asked [Aguirre] to comply with the Church's norms, and as the latter did not obey, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) ordered as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the group's pastoral activity be suspended.

Aguirre went forward, arguing that he was responding to the call of thousands of brethren "who were abandoned, or, in many cases, deprived of the sacraments, finding themselves as sheep without a shepherd." Three years after the first admonishment, the decree of excommunication was made public.

Disobedience to the Pope

Aguirre will now be ordained a bishop by the representatives of the Brazilian Church who describe themselves as "Catholic" although they do not obey the Pope, and adopt vestments, rites, and public displays of faith traditionally used by the Church of Rome.

They also have images of saints and designations such as "priests", "deacons", "bishops", etc.

At the ceremony - which has caused a great stir - the Primate Bishop of the Community of Christ the Reedemer of the United States, which is separated from the Vatican, will participate. The occasion will be taken to erect San Juan Comalapa Church into a cathedral.

Concern over the Division

The CEG President considered it an offense to declare that church a cathedral and pointed out that a lot of division is being created in that municipality.

Aguirre said he did not want a confrontation with the Catholic Church. He justified his movement on the grounds that "it grants more freedom and participation to the communities, is more inclusive and respectful of different modes of spiritual expression, and is, therefore, less rigid than the Church of Rome."

He also points out to the figure of the priest as servant, and not someone who rules, thus allowing for the community to participate in decision-making.

In a pastoral letter, [Aguirre] argues that his appointment as bishop is legitimate, since it is based on apostolic tradition prior to the fourth century, when prelates were designated by the community. In addition, he defends the local autonomy of the churches.

Aguirre's movement consists of nine priests, one deacon, 35 seminarians, and about 200,000 members, according to the organization's own figures.

Ramazzini said he had no knowledge of other Catholic priests or faithful planning to joint Aguirre's congregation. "I would hope they accept guidance from the Catholic bishops, but there will always be people who disagree with the hierarchy and who think that leaving will be better or that it will provide a solution to their problems," he commented.

A Divided Town

For several years, the Catholics in San Juan Comalapa have been divided. Catholic José García stated that the residents "are being deceived".

Rodrigo Chonay, another Catholic, considers it an offense that Aguirre become a bishop since he is not recognized by the Universal Church.

Aguirre's followers think differently and say that a vacuum is being filled. "For more than 50 years, we have been marginalized and discriminated against by the Diocese of Sololá," Miguel Can complained.

Rigoberto Upum, a priest in Aguirre's movement, affirmed that he is not against the Vatican's norms but [against] the behavior of some of its leaders, and that during the celebration of Mass, they always pray for Benedict XVI.


It implies expulsion from the life of the Church. It impedes the reception of the sacraments and exercising certain ecclesiastical functions.

[Excommunication] may be automatic when falling into apostasy, heresy, or schism, or through a formal process the Pope ratifies. In Guatemala, three priests have been excommunicated:

José María Ruiz Furlán (Father Chemita) was excommunicated in 1990 for preaching messages contrary to Catholic doctrine, among other offenses.

Andrés Girón (August 17, 2000) got involved in politics and led a peasant movement. He later joined the Orthodox faith.

Eduardo Aguirre (August 15, 2006) established a religious movement at odds with the Catholic Church, and does not recognize the authority of the bishops and the Pope.

Aguirre: "I Don't Want a Confrontation"

Eduardo Aguirre Oestmann assured that he does not want to create polemics or a confrontation with the Catholic Church, with whom he wishes to maintain a cordial relationship. He defends his movement based on the autonomy of the local church against Rome's centralism.

Ramazzini: "Great Division"

"It worries us that there is this great division within the Catholic Church, mostly because it can confuse people," CEG President Álvaro Ramazzini explained.

He lamented that the faithful may believe the future priests who join that movement are Catholic.

The Movement's History

In 2003, Eduardo Aguirre Oestmann founded the Saint Mary of the New Exodus movement which accepted members of Evangelical churches and other denominations. He came into conflict with the tenets of the Catholic Church in Rome, thus prompting his excommunication.

[Aguirre] sought a relationship with other churches separated from Rome, with whom - through apostolic succession which allows for appointing bishops who, in turn, ordain priests - the continuity of his group, called the Renewed Catholic Ecumenical Church in Guatemala, will be guaranteed.

He contacted the Union of Old Catholic Churches of Utrecht, which is also separated from Rome, but chose in the end to reach communion with the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church.

Within the movement, which has its own liturgy, a seminary, and a School of Theology, there is a so-called Nazareth Community. Its members are celibate and dedicate their lives to prayer, although they perform pastoral work.

[The movement] also has secular priests who may either marry or remain celibate. It admits priests ordained by churches it is in communion with (Roman, Orthodox, or Evangelical).

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ministry/Outreach; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholicchurch; eduardoaguirre; guatemala; schism

1 posted on 10/22/2007 8:58:47 AM PDT by rrstar96
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To: NYer; Salvation; Nihil Obstat; mileschristi; Teófilo; bornacatholic


2 posted on 10/22/2007 8:59:52 AM PDT by rrstar96 (Strength and Honor!)
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To: rrstar96

Wolf in sheep’s clothing ping!

3 posted on 10/22/2007 9:25:40 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: rrstar96

I can’t figure out what this guy did that was so wrong as compared to what the priest in the San Francisco area have done.

4 posted on 10/22/2007 9:41:26 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: rrstar96; vladimir998
There are quite a few congregations that call themselves Catholic when, in fact, they are not. The best known groups are the Old Catholics
5 posted on 10/22/2007 10:20:11 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: rrstar96

“Andrés Girón (August 17, 2000) got involved in politics and led a peasant movement. He later joined the Orthodox faith.”

Great; just what we need! :(

6 posted on 10/22/2007 3:20:20 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

We decided it was time to share the love, lol.

7 posted on 10/22/2007 3:24:48 PM PDT by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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