Via Media

Via Media

San Diego Dust Up

Tale of a diocese, a chapel and a determined community

Hours before Mass begins, every seat is taken in the little red-roofed chapel that opens its doors each Sunday in proud defiance of the Catholic Church.

Families, many of them Mexican migrant workers, have come to this renegade church for 90 minutes of religious study led by a charismatic Peruvian missionary. Inside an aging brick building with dented wood floors, they crowd into creaking pews and pray.

Minutes before Mass, as more families arrive, the men pair off and lift the wooden pews, carrying them to the veranda already crowded with benches and folding chairs. So popular is El Centro Guadalupano – named for Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe – that Mass must be celebrated outdoors.


In any place but Pauma Valley, such a congregation would seem heaven-sent.

But to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, this congregation is a problem that won’t go away.

For two years, Bishop Robert Brom has been trying to stop Mass from being celebrated at the chapel, on state Route 76 about 15 miles east of Interstate 15, and move the congregants to a nearby church. For two years, Mass has continued, as relations between the bishop and his rebellious flock have grown increasingly bitter.

The dispute is now headed to court, where a judge will be asked to decide who controls the chapel and its grounds – the church or the churchgoers.

Comments read comments(16)
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Jimmy Mac

posted March 6, 2004 at 1:08 pm

A perfect example of rules getting in the way of faith. The diocese needs to take a long and patient approach with these folks and be damned happy that they all haven’t leaped into any number of fundy sects which will be happy to have them.

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Christopher H.

posted March 6, 2004 at 2:24 pm

It sounds to me like they have effectively “leapt into” a sect of their own and they wish to claim squatters rights on a piece of property that belongs to the church.

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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted March 6, 2004 at 2:31 pm

Interesting. No mention of the priest who is celebrating the Mass for this renegade community. Hmmmmmm.

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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted March 6, 2004 at 2:33 pm

Hmmmm. What I meant to say is that the priest is not the focus, but the community is. Fr. Quispe. Doesn’t he make submarine sandwiches?

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posted March 6, 2004 at 4:53 pm

I think it’s very sad that these people won’t obey the Church, yet claim to be Catholic. Why is that so common these days?

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Jimmy Mac

posted March 6, 2004 at 7:06 pm

Christopher: if the proprerty belongs to “the church”, what is and who are “the church?” Oh, silly me, of course it isn’t the 99% of people who make up the laity. Silly, silly me. Back to go and don’t collect those 200 days’ indulgences.

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posted March 6, 2004 at 7:15 pm

It’s too bad that civil authorities must be brought in to resolve internal church disputes. Can they not go to some private arbitrator or some other forum than Ceasar’s?

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John Hetman

posted March 6, 2004 at 7:43 pm

From the article, I really don’t know how to judge this situation. Yet, it would seem prudent and humble of the bishop to bend over backwards to accomodate these Mexican Catholics.
As we now know, too many North American bishops are neither prudent nor humble. Amy, if you find out more on this situation, please do post it.

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posted March 6, 2004 at 8:06 pm

I just read the entire article. It seemed to me that these rebellious congregants are fixated on a BUILDING. The article quotes one as saying they aren’t “comfortable” attending Mass on the neighboring Indian Reservations.
I don’t particularly find the insistance on Mass in a particular building as righteous, imho.

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Rod Dreher

posted March 6, 2004 at 10:07 pm

I’m not sure what to think from reading this article. My sympathies are naturally with the congregation, but that’s only because I know Brom to be a very liberal, very pro-lavender AmChurch bishie. Nevertheless, he is the validly ordained and installed Roman Catholic bishop of San Diego. So I’m not sure what to think about this. I’d like to know more.

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posted March 7, 2004 at 12:06 am

Yes, before you jump to conclusions, keep in mind that traditional Catholics, which hispanics tend to be, have been treated like trash in many dioceses. You’d better really check this one out before you pass judgment on these people. If they have a validly ordained priest and are not disobeying laws of the church, ehhhhh, I’m not so sure they’re in that much trouble RE attending a wishy-washy place with no tradition….

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posted March 7, 2004 at 12:10 am

Obviously in the tug of war we’re in inside the church, it doesn’t behoove us to vacate the premises and give up like this. Better to stand our ground and let the progressives die out of old age, or get disgusted and go be episcopalians……
In an attrition situation, trads outlast everyone else every time. In an all out scramble, trads will win every time. It’s happened over and over in the Church–it’s just the nature of the thing. We need to remember that and hold our ground.
But there’s a lot of people who aren’t seeing that so clearly because they personally hurt so much just now…..

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posted March 8, 2004 at 4:36 pm

It makes no difference what sympathies we have with the parishoners or whether the bishop is a liberal. The fact is, he has authority from Almighty God as bishop of San Diego. Not you, not me. He’s not asking them to do anything immoral. Maybe he should handle the situation differently. But he hasn’t, and he’s got the authority.

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posted March 8, 2004 at 11:02 pm

Yes, SF, and like Christ said of the pharisees, obey them but don’t do as they do.
AND, my point remains. It will not do for the traditional wing to opt out. In the toughest of tough spots, the Trads always win out. We need to stick around and be patient. The forces of craziness will exhaust themselves sooner or later.

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posted March 8, 2004 at 11:06 pm

And, we need to relax when people malign us. It really will be okay. God sees the antics of the bishop just as clearly as he sees everything else.

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posted February 10, 2005 at 12:44 am

it seems to me that these hispanic people need to defend what they believe and stand up for what belongs to them. The diocese is all interested is the MONEY

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