Ex-Seminarian: Accused Priest Would 'Dedicate' Virgins

By Matt C. Abbott
Renew America [Arizona]
April 4, 2006

Former seminarian and alleged abuse victim-survivor Philip Hower of Tucson, Ariz., whose 2004 RICO suit against the Church was settled in 2005, remembers some bizarre practices of Father Jorge Washington Cordova Hernandez, who "is accused of abusing a minor during his assignment to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma from 1988 to 1991," according to an April 3, 2006 Associated Press story.

Recounts Hower:

"Father Richard E. Troutman, currently pastor of St. Odilia's Parish in Tucson, was then-pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma. Father Joe Baker, currently pastor of Holy Family Parish in Tucson, was the assistant with me. Joe and I knew [about Cordova's activities] and told Troutman, who just laughed. Troutman had 'hired' Jorge and Jorge's blood brother, Gus, into the parish.

"Jorge used to 'dedicate' virgins and would say the words of consecration: 'This is My Body, This is My Blood.' Jorge would take his right hand during the pronouncement of the words of Institution and point directly to himself, as if to suggest 'Jorge's body, Jorge's blood.'

"He had women and minor girls in his rectory room frequently and at all hours. When ill, he had a specific woman stay in his room to 'minister' to him. In addition to Troutman, Bishop Manuel Moreno was aware of the situation, as was the vicar for Yuma, Monsignor Richard O'Keeffe. Yet, despite Father Joe and me continuing to alert the three men in leadership positions, they did nothing."

Hower says he did not alert police because he wasn't aware of any specific allegation made against Cordova at that time.

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic journalist and commentator. He is a columnist for and/or contributor to,,,,, and He can be reached at


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.