|Immigration Letter by Ontario Priest Sparks Questions
By Liset Marquez
September 15, 2010
ONTARIO - An Ontario priest, accused of sexual abuse, did not violate church orders when he sent a letter asking the City Council to reject Arizona's immigration laws, officials with Diocese of San Bernardino said Wednesday.
Father Alex Castillo, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, has been removed from active duty since late June and is not allowed to interact with parishioners.
But a letter dated July 26 written by Castillo which started a local squabble over Arizona's immigration law, raised some questions if he violated the church's orders.
"The letter was written prior to us receiving the allegations and it wasn't sent until July," said John Andrews, spokesman for the diocese.
Andrews said the diocese will not investigate the matter of the letter any further.
Castillo is still a pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe, but has been "told not to be active in the ministry," Andrews said.
Two brothers have accused Father Alex Castillo of Our Lady of Guadalupe of sexual misconduct. The Diocese of San Bernardino was contacted June 24 by the boys' parents and informed of the alleged abuse.
Castillo maintains his innocence and has not been charged with a crime, Andrews said.
By not disclosing the allegations earlier, the Diocese has opened up the possibility for Castillo to not only have interaction with parishioners but other victims, said David Clohessy, St. Louis-based national director and spokesman for the
Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests
Clohessy said that is why the survivor network has urged the church to disclose the priest's whereabouts.
It is most likely, Clohessy said, that Castillo has been set to a church-run treatment facility that is not on lockdown.
"At worse, some church officials told him to keep away from kids," Clohessy said.
It is standard practice in the diocese, Andrews said, to remove the priest from active duty if there has been allegations of sexual abuse.
Castillo sent a letter to Mayor Paul Leon this summer urging the City Council to publicly oppose Arizona Senate Bill 1070. The illegal immigration enforcement law is considered the country's broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in decades.
The letter said it was sent on behalf of Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners and included a request for a public meeting with council members to discuss the law.
Parishioners who supported Castillo's letter did not want to comment.
The request drew the anger of Claremont-based We the People, California's Crusaders, which asked the council to pass a resolution supporting the law. The City Council on Sept. 7 decided to not get involved in the debate.
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