Priest Sorry for Role in R-Rated Film

By Kelly Ettenborough
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
August 21, 2000

The Rev. Saul Madrid apologized to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church parishioners Sunday for playing a role in an R-rated movie and for allowing ascene to be filmed at another Phoenix Catholic church.

In a letter he read after Masses in English and in Spanish, Madrid expressed his "deep sorrow over poor judgment."

In the scene at St. Anthony Catholic Church, men use explicit language in front of a statue of Christ. In another scene, Madrid plays a brief speaking role of a priest giving counsel.

The 1999 release of the independent 14 Ways to Wear Lipstick has been one point of contention with a group called the Christian Faithful, whose members have been protesting and asking for Madrid and Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien to resign and for Valley Catholics to withhold donations.

Madrid, 43, acknowledged the "incredibly challenging and difficult" year he has had since being named pastor to both parishes, a move that was opposed by some from the start.

Madrid did not get permission from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for St. Anthony to be used in the film, he said.

"I also today ask for your forgiveness ... for all the pain this has caused you. ... I, like you, stand in need of God's grace and mercy," a solemn Madrid read.

After he finished reading the letter, there was a brief moment of silence before the more than 200 parishioners at the English Mass gave Madrid a standing ovation. They shook his hand, smiled and embraced him as they walkedout the door.

"I think it took a lot of guts to do that," said San Young, a parishioner at Immaculate Heart for 33 years and the first parishioner to stand on Sunday."It's done and over and it's in the hands of the Diocese. We practice forgiveness."

According to the movie's director, Daniel Pace, Madrid did not accept moneyfor his role.

Madrid was not present while the scene was being filmed at St. Anthony and Pace improvised in the scene from the original script to have the men talking in front of the statue, Pace said. The movie focuses on the relationship between a loan shark and his wife.

Last Sunday, Madrid read the same letter at St. Anthony, and parishioners there, too, received him with a standing ovation, according to Stella Paolini, a St. Anthony parishioner and supporter of Madrid.

But Madrid's detractors say the apology isn't enough. They want the Diocese to investigate numerous allegations. If Madrid won't offer a resignation, they want his suspension during the investigation, said Dr. Manuel Seda, one of theChristian Faithful who no longer attends St. Anthony.

The group's allegations against Madrid include financial improprieties, sexual improprieties, a lack of communication, a lack of leadership, and a lack of respect for parishioners and their traditional ways of worship.

Immaculate Heart is the Mexican national parish of the Diocese. Some Christian Faithful members also question whether Madrid may be indirectly responsible for the fire that destroyed the interior of Immaculate Heart before Easter.

The Diocese will not comment on the allegations. Madrid declined comment as did Sister Mary Ann Winters, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, who attended the Masses at Immaculate Heart on Sunday.


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