The following comes from a January 5 Fox LA story by Gina Silva:
He’s known as “Father Erwin Mena”. Since the mid 1990’s he’s been celebrating mass at Catholic churches throughout California. He’s held prayer meetings, paid counseling sessions and nights of confession in the dioceses of San Bernardino, Stockton, Orange, and Fresno.
But he’s not really a priest. His real name is Erwin Arnaldo Menacastro, 49 years old. Detectives say he’s a fake wanted by the LAPD for swindling thousands of dollars from believers. His latest ploy was selling tickets for a pilgrimage to New York and Philadelphia to visit with Pope Francis during his last U.S. tour.
Detectives say the Pope-Tour scam netted Mena more than $15,000 from unsuspecting victims, many from low income families.
Does anyone know the Church Position on receiving ‘Sacraments’ (Confession, Communion…) from a Fraud?
Does the Good Faith Belief of the recipient that the ‘priest’ was indeed a Catholic Priest – make up for the deception of the Fraudster – or does everything (like a Marriage) need to be done over?
Good Intent and a Good Heart count for much – but how much (if at all) this will make up for the Fraud is something I would like to learn more about.
Unfortunately… It is Invalid and illicit. Its like the old saying: “From nothing, nothing comes.”
*An actual priest.
The fake priest in this article, gave NO SACRAMENTS AT ALL, and committed a GRAVE MORTAL SIN!! NO SACRAMENTS, and NO GRACE!!
NOTHING!! ZERO!! Perhaps a few of the Catholic parishioners who felt close to God in their hearts, remained very close to God, no matter what happened– while thinking they were receiving a Sacrament; but sadly– they received NOTHING AT ALL!! SANCTIFYING GRACE is a LIVING THING, straight from Heaven, given to us, in the holy Sacraments!
The faith and beliefs of a recipient do not make up for the deception. You will need to confess again. You did not receive Jesus in communion.
What if you are from out of town, on vacation, and happen to be visiting that parish. Unless you saw this article, how would you even know that you confessed to a fraudulent priest? If you are ignorant through no fault of your own, I would think that God would take that into account. I’d be curious to know what the official answer is to that, but I would think the pastor would have a lot of explaining to do as to how he allowed this priest to hear confessions without proper identification from the ordinary.
Another thought: If people can receive the “baptism of desire” should they die before receiving the desired actual sacrament, wouldn’t a penitent receive ‘absolution by desire” if he confessed to someone he believed to be an ordained priest? I’m talking here about someone who sincerely confesses with a repentent heart and never learns that the “confessor” was not an ordained priest. God is just and, it seems to me, would not condemn someone who did all that was expected. If anything, the pastor who allowed the fraud would be the one to answer for it, not the ignorant penitent. Just raising the question.
We must hope that if a person confessed a mortal sin and did not receive sacramental absolution, that God will make the person aware of a need to confess this sin again. Pray for this.
To reply to the post of Michael McDermott– The Sacraments are actually a living participation in the Divine Life of Christ, straight from Heaven! The Sacraments always flow AUTOMATICALLY, lifelong, through the holy hands, of a validly ordained priest! After Ordination, the priest has an indelible mark on his soul, and this is forever! Regardless of whether or not the priest or Catholic parishioner is in a state of grace, or understands the Sacrament fully– Divine Grace flows AUTOMATICALLY, and the parishioner receives the gift of Sanctifying Grace!! The Catechism can tell you more, about the Sacraments!
ICALLY, regardless, straight from Heaven!
Linda Maria’s post contains a theological mis-statement. If a Catholic is not in the state of grace when receiving a Sacrament, no sanctifying grace is thereby imparted to that recipient.
BEWARE, Caritas! The Sacraments, and Sanctifying Grace– are an OBJECTIVE REALITY!! NOT a ritual to help a believer to have a subjective religious experience!! ALL Sacraments of a validly- ordained Catholic priest, are the same, no matter what!! ALL are of Heaven, and are of the LIVING CHRIST, transmitting His LIVING REALITY, Sanctifying Grace, to al!! It is VERY IMPORTANT, Catholics to be in a state of grace, when receiving a Sacrament!! Otherwise, to commit a hideous SACRIKEGE, will have DISASTROUS consequences!! RUN TO CONFESSION!!
I repeat, Linda Maria, that you go directly against Church teaching by saying one who receives any Sacrament while not in the state of grace,
receives sanctifying grace thereby. Point to me where I ever said that a Catholic does NOT need to be in the state of grace to receive any Sacrament (except Baptism). It was YOU who wrote that sacraments impart sanctifying grace even if the priest OR THE RECIPIENT is not in a state of grace. [Go back and read it.] You are correct as to the priest; but not as to the recipient. That’s all I said.
You might try reading what others write before criticizing them viciously. I don’t need any of your “BEWARE!!!!s”. I know that I need confession. Given your extraordinary judgmentalism and lack…
confession is a Sacrament!
WE can all participate in the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) when not in the state of Grace…that’s what it is for!
Sorry, Caritas, but in my post, above, I typed too fast– I misspelled the word “SACRILEGE!” Well– it is VERY IMPORTANT, for all Catholics to remain in a state of grace, lifelong, and to receive the Sacraments correctly! A good Catholic must immediately RUN TO CONFESSION, if they commit a Mortal Sin!
You go to confession BECAUSE you may not be in a state of grace, so that you can be RESTORED to grace through absolution.
Caritas, this is in reply to BOTH of your posts. A Sacrament is an OBJECTIVE REALITY! For example— Christ does not “disappear” from the consecrated Sacred Host at Mass, given to a communicant who is not in a state of grace! That Communion Host is TOTALLY the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity, of Our Lord Jesus Christ!! Read the Catechism, and you will see! A person NOT in a state of grace, receiving a Sacrament wrongfully, commits a Sacrilege, and there are consequences, for that sin!
Point to anything in my posts which questions any of these things! Red herrings. Stick to what I wrote. And remember, you have no license to preach and no right to condemn.
Caritas, the problem with unworthy, sacrilegious reception of the Sacraments– particularly, sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion!– is that Our Lord is TRULY PRESENT, with Sanctifying Grace– and one has SINNED PERSONALLY AGAAINST OUR LORD HIMSELF!! You might also want to read what St. Paul has to say on this, in I Corinthians 11:27-29.
Linda Maria, are you REALLY so CERTAIN that you haven’t personally sinned agains himself? I hope you’ve gone to confession since some of your most recent posts!!!! You might want to read some of the entire Gospel!!!!
Anonymous– I am used to reading and hearing things, but then, finding out the TRUTH, never stopping at just blind acceptance of “hearsay!” Why do you think that this FAKE PRIEST was able to wrongfully go into one of our churches, and give FALSE SACRAMENTS?? Someone in authority, was NOT PAYING ATTENTIION!! It is quite dangerous, when those of responsibility, FAIL TO CARE ENOUGH, TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION– and many tragic incidents of CRIME also happen, that way!
Anonymous– read the entire Gospel of St. Matthew, and watch how Christ loudly rebukes those who sin, such as the Pharisees! He was a strong and holy young Son of God, not a big, scared baby, who loves to “go along to get along!” His Gospel is VERY STRONG!! He was captured by all His enemies, and killed, because His gospel is VERY STRONG– and they DID NOT LIKE IT!!
The Pharisees were not the sinners they were the self-righteous.
Sorry, but the computer skipped, so please disregard the final sentence! Big error! Anyway– if you read the Catechism, you will see, that each of our Sacraments has an outward form, with an interior grace– Sanctifying Grace! It is AUTOMATIC, and cannot be changed!! The validly-ordained priest has the power conferred upon him, in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, to give the Sacraments forever, with an indelible mark upon his soul. His powers do not change, if he leaves the Priesthood, or commits a crime with no repentance, or if he renounces completely, the Catholic Faith (like Martin Luther, or the Catholic-turned-Anglican priests, of King Henry VIII did).
Thanks, Linda Maria, for instructing me in theology. You seem to be replying to me. But you instruct me on things about which I never raised a doubt. Since I have two graduate degrees in the subject, I’ll try to navigate on my own. Is that OK with you?
Caritas, I just submitted two additional posts, at 5:44p.m., and 6:17p.m I am not trying to harm anyone! I don’t think you are, either! It is just information, that’s all!
One more thing, Caritas! You can guess the reason I wrote those posts! It has nothing to do with you! Of course not! It has to do with the tragic fact, that so many of our Church leaders, as well as high-profile Catholic laymen — have little respect for the Sacraments, and sacrileges are all too common! Many do not accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist– and also no longer believe in Sanctifying Grace, from Heaven, hidden in all of the external Sacraments!! (the Sacrament– “outward sign, with the inward Grace!”)
Caritas– p.s When I said the word “Beware!” in previous posts– I meant, one must have respect for God! Christ is truly present, in all of the Sacraments, and one must take care, to properly prepare, to receive the Sacraments! Many Catholics (including prominent Church leaders!) do not agree with me! So sad, isn’t it?? That is all I meant! It has nothing to do with you, Caritas!
Caritas– I am certainly NOT YOUR CCD TEACHER! That is RIDICULOUS!! WHY OVER-REACT TO OTHERS’ POSTS?? Posters here, are ONLY submitting their responses and ideas, regarding the NEWS STORIES!! And how about YOUR responses, Caritas, to the news stories? WHERE ARE THEY??
Two of my posts are now out-of-order, and I will explain! I wrote a post at 1:53 a.m., on Jan. 8th, that ended up with some typing errors, on the bottom. So then, I tried to correct this, with my Jan. 8th post, right afterwards, of 2:02 a.m.!
Perfectly OK. But could it be that it’s better to type less and think more?
Oh no, caritas, it couldn’t possibly be a good thing to type less and think more. Or to use the rules of capitalization and punctuation to their proper end. Or to cease pretending that one is the only mature, adult, non-babyish “catholic” on this website or in the world. Oh no, caritas, those things couldn’t possibly be true!!! It couldn’t possibly be true that pride is a capital sin.
“St. John Vianney taught, “Pride makes us hate our equals because they are our equals; our inferiors from the fear that they may equal us; our superiors because they are above us.” https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/what-are-capital-sins.html
Anonymous—- It takes COURAGE to speak the TRUTH! PRIDE is the mark of a COWARD who refuses to speak the TRUTH! Many good people, and their families- can be harmed, if someone is IRRESPONSIBLE and COWARDLY!! In this news story– what if this FAKE PRIEST had also been a CRIMINAL, that harmed many good people, and their families?? Do not KILL THE MESSENGER, with news— or information– that you do not want to hear!!
Linda Maria – I’m all for speaking the truth, but I think a little humility about what constitutes the truth might go a long way. You aren’t infallible in matters of faith and morals, are you? Or are you?
You constantly treat people on here to all kinds of attacks while puffing yourself up. In your mind, you are the only one on here who has the courage to speak the truth, and everyone else is a coward.
But I’m sure you will attack again because you have the infallibility to decide what is true, who is courageous, and who are cowards. Around such perfection, the rest of us are left to tremble in our boots.
Anonymous, it’s an elderly person.
Anonymous– St. John Vianney was VERY STRONG in teaching Christ’s Truths! Many did not like him at first, and considered him a failure! He was a VERY STRONG PRIEST!!
Anonymous– St. John Vianney, who was initially refused ordination due to his academic failures– was assigned to a little village (Ars) that had fallen deeply into sin, due to the persecution of the Church by leaders of the French Revolution. The sinful villagers were quite a big challenge for this priest! St. John Vianney was a VERY STRONG PRIEST— and he eventually won the little village over, for Christ! He had quite a famous battle with the Devil!
God bless you caritas!
Caritas– Better that you IGNORE OTHERS’ POSTS– AND WRITE YOUR OWN!
If a man comes to a parish , says he’s a priest and wants to say Mass , hear confessions, etc., does the pastor welcome him without doing any background check on him? How could this happen?
Most priests have some type of card, I forget it’s actual name, that they present and they can offer Mass. I’m assuming this guy has a fake one?
The pastor should check his papers i f he doesn’t know him to make sure the ordinary has given his permission. Even then, the pastor can refuse. Several years ago, an elderly “priest” showed up at our chapel to celebrate daily Mass. We thought he was a visiting priest filling in for our pastor that day–until our pastor himself showed up. He took the elderly man aside and found out he was confused. Whether he simply went to the wrong church, had dementia or something else, I don’t know, but the pastor sent him away. On other occasions, we’ve had priests visiting relatives in our parish, but none were allowed to celebrate Mass without both th epermission of th eordinary AND the pastor.
The proper protocol in most diocese is to have the letter of good standing from the priest’s diocese forwarded directly to the diocese in which he plan to perform any sacraments or speaking engagements, etc. Then permission is granted by the chancery office for the priest to participate in that particular diocese for a certain event or time period as the Bishop allows.
The scapular “Father” is wearing is a nice touch.
Did anyone note that he took advantage of the low-income families? Perhaps that is due to the fact that they are the ones who give the most in their time, talent, and treasure to our parishes! Deception and corruption happens all the time; many were abused by priests in Pre-Vatican II era. We, as THE CHURCH, need to be more prayerful and continue to stand firm with our brothers and sisters.
This happened in Phoenix Diocese in 2 heavily Spanish-speaking co-parishes(Immaculate Heart & St Anthony’s in 2002: a fake with a criminal record was allowed for some length of time to operate as a priest:
The pastor at the time (based on a very good 1st-hand authority) simply spoke with the false priest, Brito, by phone and then met with him. He found he was a very nice, nice man—and quickly got him faculties for Phoenix Diocese under the very accommodating bishop at that time, Bp. Thomas O’Brien.
Now, at about the same time, Bp. O’Brien quickly suspended the priestly faculties of Fr. Clement Procopio, OFM, a then-82-year-old faithful and outstanding priest, who was fed up with the N.O. liturgy, in Jan. 2003: a copy of his letter follows:
Fr. Procopio was a solid, dedicated priest, who had come to a realization about the New Liturgy, and made a decision based on it. He would henceforth only offer the TLM, at a chapel in Cottonwood.
However, Fr. Procopio was not a nice, very nice man, not at all like the very nice Mr. Brito was, who made such a striking impression on both the pastor and the bishop, who got immediate…
faculties for Mr. Brito.
To reply to Steve Phoenix– It is such a tragedy, that so many older Catholic priests who loved the old Latin Mass– were hunted down and greatly persecuted, by many bishops of the Church, after Vatican II!! HORRIBLE!! It just broke people’s hearts! Meanwhile– a great many sleazy, anti-Catholic, liberal, immoral priests, who loved the Novus Ordo Missae– were highly praised, and publicly rewarded, by their bishops!!
The cowardly liar, Bp. O’Brien, who ran over and killed a man (and then lied about it, asking his secretary to also lie for him); after driving home from a Confirmation Mass very late one night– made everyone SICK!! He also lied about, and tried to cover up, many cases of horrific clergy pedophile crimes! He was a sleazy liberal, and a total liar, who got found out! Hope he is in prison, somewhere! (Can’t recall his final end, right now!)
Well, Linda, Bp. O’Brien is in retirement, and lives in his house near N Central Ave in Phoenix, and does not appear at all in good health—I actually saw him a few years ago one night at the Phoenix Symphony: he tottered when he walked, and probably is using a walker by now; he appeared then to be very gray, weak, and frail. I would recommend prayers for him and to forgive him for his failings. Yes, they were significant failings, but God is probably working with him now.
“See how these Christians love one another!” The hateful tone of your comment is unnecessary and inappropriate.
Steve Phoenix, thanks for your posts! They are always excellent, and contain good, accurate information!
…you are welcome, Linda: poor old O’Brien really looks like a wreck (I hope that isn’t offensive to oxymoronically-named charitable ones) and literally totters when he walks, last I had seen. He was in the company of his sister and family, and (fortunately) didn’t seem to recognize me. He was gray as a wraith and looked like Marley’s ghost.
Bp. Olmsted has very kindly let Bp. O’Brien reside in the bishop’s residence in N. Central Phoenix—a nice area, but the house is hardly a mansion, I have seen it many times—and hopefully he is meditating and preparing for his meeting with Our Lord, as should we all. (BTW, Bp. Olmsted lives in the rectory at SS Simon and Jude Cathedral on N. 27th Ave—hardly a plush, gated…
Caritas, why make such a silly comment? No hateful comments were made, by either Steve Phoenix, or myself! This was just a short, objective discussion, of a very serous crime situation, involving a Bishop! That’s all!!
Silly comment? After you publicly called a Bishop a sleazy liberal and a liar? And don’t lump Steve Phoenix in. I never mentioned his name, much less accused him of being hateful. Those reading your (never-ending) posts can judge for themselves whether your comment are often hateful, judgmental and malicious.
Caritas– again, why make silly comments?? And as a responsible Catholic parishioner– DON’T YOU CARE about CRIMES committed by prominent clergy of our Church?? Aren’t you WORRIED about the POOR VICTIMS?? No one here, is “being hateful, judgmental, vicious, and malicious” simply for bringing up a very serious problem, of CRIME in the Catholic Church!! It is a TRAGIC FACT!! Many families are so scared, they no longer trust the Catholic Church– and they leave, and find another church! Maybe you, too– have considered leaving??
Linda Maria, you just don’t get it. I simply offered a correction to your original post that, contrary to Church teaching, stated that one who receives a sacrament in a state of moral sin still receives sanctifying grace. You offered no on-point reply. Rather, per your custom, you follow with torrents of words on extraneous matters and accuse me of sin [e.g., “BEWARE” and “RUN TO CONFESSION!”] over things I never questioned. Is it impossible for you to stick to the point and be civil?
The moderators need to watch your posts more closely, Linda M.
I can’t imagine why, even if what you say is true, that you would call anyone, especially a bishop,” a cowardly liar, a sleazy liberal, and a total liar”, and wish them ill. Or call a segment of the clergy ” a great many sleazy, anti-Catholic, liberal, immoral priests, who loved the Novus Ordo Missae ” into question. There is nothing wrong with loving the NO mass; many of our younger priests don’t know anything else. That doesn’t make them bad! What’s wrong with you? Pray for our priests and bishops! You are not their judge.
Caritas, my posts have NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH YOU, PERSONALLY!! WHY do you let my FACTUAL posts upset you, Caritas?? You know, the good nuns used to warn us, regarding proper reception of the Sacraments, and proper preparation! BEWARE of things that could harm you, don’t sin, and don’t get into bad situations! Beware of bad behavior, you will get PUNISHED! Beware also of all other dangers— such as criminals and phonies in the clergy!! Can’t you see what I mean??
To reply to the post of Alice– Do you know the criminal case of this Bishop?? He was a liberal, who illegally covered up and lied about many cases of priest pedophilia, and got caught. Also, he ran over and killed a man, in a tragic “hit and run” case, late one night, returning from a Confirmation Mass. He did not stop to try to help the victim! Next, he and his secretary illegally COVERED UP THE CRIME AND THE EVIDENCE– and LIED TO POLICE about it!! This was a BIG SHOCK!! Everyone was OUTRAGED, and DEEPLY HURT, for the POOR VICTIMS, of one of our Bishops!!
Alice– My posts here, have NOTHING AT ALL to do with priests and parishioners, who love the Novus Ordo Mass!! The Novus Ordo Mass is just fine, and TOTALLY LEGITIMATE!! Like many parishioners, I prefer the old Latin Tridentine Mass– which is also TOTALY LEGITIMATE!! At my parish, BOTH Masses are offered! My posts here, have to do with the SHOCK over IMMORAL CLERGY, who COMMIT CRIMES, and HARM PEOPLE!! What if this bad, fake priest– had actually committed a CRIME, and HURT many people??
Linda Maria, if your posts have “NOTHING TO DO WITH” me, why do you address them to me?
Caritas, this is nonsense! You attack people, responding to posts not related to you– and then people try to make a reasonable response to you, and you still attack them! You seem to read posts with the mistaken idea, that posters are somehow “judgmental, vicious, and malicious,” among other things! Leave posters alone– let them express their ideas, on a subject! These posts have nothing to do with you! They have to do only with a response to the news story for the day!
Steve Phoenix– thanks for this information! I am so sorry, for the poor, elderly priest, who loved the old Tridentine Mass! “Nice men,” may sometimes appear to be “nice,”— but some of them actually are dangerous CON ARTISTS!! That is also the case, for many of the clergy child sex predators– they “groom” a child, pretending to be “nice,” before severely harming the child, committing evil, criminal acts of child sex molestation!
Steve Phoenix– was poor old Fr. Procopio treated with greater respect, by Bishop Olmsted, when he replaced Bp. O’Brien?? Sad to say– but I bet Fr. Procopio is now in his grave, bless him!
I agree with you caritas. You are correct!
Sadly it is the loss of money that triggered a response, not the loss of faith.
“nights of confession in the dioceses of San Bernardino, Stockton, Orange, and Fresno.” = Ezechiel (Ezeckiel) 34:5 “And my sheep were scattered, because there was no shepherd: and they became the prey of all the beasts of the field, and were scattered.”
Who is NOT properly teaching, protecting or guarding Christ’s sheep? What vigilant parent let’s a complete stranger come in and take over critically important responsibilities without thoroughly checking out his background? The answer is: An extremely negligent parent who fails in their duty to protect their vulnerable children.
This is also a wake-up call that highly showcases how serious a problem there is with shepherds being joyfully available to hear the confessions of sinners. “Oh, let that new guy (any stranger) hear confessions. I’m only available for confessions by appointment.” IOW ….”I really do not care about being joyfully available to absolve the sins of men.” (especially if I’m doing the same thing that those sinners are repenting of) While running hither, thither, and yon feigning great concern for politically advantageous social justice causes, our shepherds have left their PRIMARY duty of caring about the salvation of souls. This very egregious form of spiritual neglect allows evil to sprout up and take root in the…
Wow. This is crazy. God have mercy!
Thank God for our loving and caring shepherd, Pope Francis, who has called ALL his priests and Bishops to be with the sheep, smell like the sheep, eat like the sheep and generally, be who they have been called to be by Jesus Himself.
In this day of electronics there is no excuse for this.
Each Bishop should have been notified via email about this man.
Then each Bishop should have emailed their own Priests within their own Diocese.
Be careful to jump to conclusions that no sacramental grace is received . From the CCC:
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
See also 1258.
This speaks of Baptism, but what can be said of one sacrament can be said of the others (mostly). My brother – who suffered from a traumatic brain injury was unable to physically receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist – received them of desire.
I do not know what you mean about your brother but I am sorry to hear of his injury.
Alice and Caritas– please do not think anyone here, is trying to hurt you! No one here is being vicious, malicious or judgmental! No one wants to hurt you! No one even knows who you are! Best not to take these posts too seriously! It is a big worry, and deeply upsetting— to see so many news stories, constantly, regarding all the evils that occur right inside the holy doors of our Church!
Thank you for your concern, Linda Maria. Be assured that not only don’t I take your posts “too seriously”, my good sense has taught me not to take them seriously at all.
Caritas– You do not know me. You are upset over nothing! I think that you are actually angry with these news stories, of the Church- NOT ME!!