Editor Clarifies ‘Catholic Bishop’ News Item

Valley News
January 14, 2010

A 16-paragraph story that was written by a regional news service and published in the Jan. 8 edition of the Valley News requires clarification on its use of the words "Catholic bishop."

The story and headline described 51-year-old Anthony Martinez Garduno, who recently pleaded guilty to four drug-related charges, as a Catholic bishop. The story also alleged other wrongdoings at his church, Our Lady of Tepeyac, at 13462 Magnolia Ave. in the unincorporated Home Gardens area west of the city of Riverside.

Garduno made headlines at the same church in September when he was shot there during a robbery attempt.

At least four people telephoned or sent e-mails to the Valley News, and one person sent a typed letter, to correctly note that the story had omitted key information. The anonymous letter writer concluded that the omission was intentional and stated: "You probably assume that your readers are non-intelligent and completely stupid and will believe anything and all that you print."

That certainly is not true.

One reader forwarded a story published by a Palm Springs television station that provided key details about Garduno. That story stated "the sheriff’s department has been referring to Garduno as a bishop, however, according to the Diocese of San Bernardino, he is not a member of the Roman Catholic Church."

That report, which quoted diocesan spokesman John Andrews, went on to say that Garduno started his own church in 1993 after he was "defrocked" as a Roman Catholic priest. Andrews said Garduno appointed himself a bishop and calls his church "Catholic," but it is not Roman Catholic and is not recognized by the Vatican.

Andrews confirmed that report in a Wednesday telephone interview with the Valley News. He said the news service story had been picked up by other papers as well.

"There was some definite clean-up work to be done on that story," he said. He said a previous round of media clarifications occurred after the September shooting. He said it is encouraging that numerous Catholics were quick to defend their faith.

Our Lady of Tepeyac is not one of the 94 parishes within the San Bernardino Diocese, which serves about 1.2 million Catholics, according to its Internet site.


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