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Dec. 26 2009 - 11:09 am | 72 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

A page out of the Middle Ages: Selling sacraments

Painting, 14th century, Flanders. Rogier van d...

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I’ve been meaning to post about this recent article in the Los Angeles Times for a while, because I had not read about a priest selling sacraments since studying the Reformation.

Father Raymundo Figueroa at  Santisimo Sacramento church is accused of selling  First Communions, Confirmations, Baptisms, in order to support his parish in Mexico.

According to the article, Father Figueroa or other clergy directed by him, cross the border and charge up to $180 for a quick sacrament. Allegedly that money has been used to build up Figueroa’s church to the point that it now holds thousands of people and 14 Masses each Sunday.

While some view Figueroa as a sort of modern day Robin Hood, others — like Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz — are debating whether the priest should be allowed to continue to lead his parish.  Figueroa defends his actions, noting that he is not a pedophile or one of those priests who secretly runs around with women. He, however, stops short of admitting any wrongdoing…

After Mass one Sunday afternoon, Figueroa made what seemed to be a startling admission about simony. “I wish I was the only one doing it. There’s too much competition out there,” Figueroa said during an interview in his cluttered sacristy.

A clutch of aides and parishioners burst into laughter. Moments later, he appeared to back away from his statement, saying his cross-border activity ended years ago.

So is this guy a hero or a charlatan? And just how many other priests are doing the same thing?


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    About Me

    I'm a journalist living in Los Angeles. I work at the national radio business show Marketplace while freelancing for a number of places. My work has appeared in the Washington Post, Salon, Slate, among other papers across the country. I write about religion a lot.

    Fish tacos, comic books and a combination of punk and psychedelic music just about round out my existence. If you've got a story idea for me, e-mail me at lillyfowler@yahoo.com

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