MOBILE, Ala. (ChurchMilitant.com) - While public Masses were unavailable nationwide during Holy Week, an Alabama prelate held a ceremony on Holy Thursday for the signing of a contract in the second stage of a multi-phased capital development plan.
Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile led a group in prayer and gave a blessing before a contract to begin construction of the St. Michael Catholic High School Field House was signed.
An athletic campaign raised $5.1 million, making possible a multi-phased capital development plan of which the field house is the second phase.
Rodi sprinkled holy water and prayed: "May this building be a blessing to all those who use it, and may God's protection and grace be with those involved in its construction."
With public Masses closed to fight the spread of the Wuhan virus, some Catholics are puzzled that Rodi held this ceremony with more than 10 people present, technically violating current Alabama regulations.
"Essential businesses and operations" — which include "Religious entities, including religious and faith-based facilities, entities and groups" — "shall take all reasonable steps, for employees and customers, to (a) avoid gatherings of 10 persons or more and (b) maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons," according to the regulations.
Rodi has a pattern of questionable practices.
In 2019, he turned a deaf ear to Catholics trying to save the historic St. Joseph in Mobile from being sold. Rodi reportedly violated canon law and sold the church for $650 thousand and obtained a $2.4 million endowment.
Before coming to Mobile, Rodi was the bishop of Biloxi, Mississippi. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he collected money from local Catholics, allegedly to repair a badly damaged church. Rodi merged the parish church with another, but when the time came to spend the collected money on repairing the church, he closed it instead.
Unable to obtain answers from Rodi, donors sued, but the case was dismissed since the judge said he lacked jurisdiction.
In addition to his financial dealings, Rodi was reported to be involved in a cover-up, exonerating a priest who allegedly sexually assaulted an adult male.
In an official statement on clergy sex abuse in 2018, Rodi expressed his outrage:
Sadness, shock, shame, outrage. I am at a loss for the words to describe my feelings at the scandals which have affected the Church these past few weeks. I have read only some of the report from Pennsylvania but it fills me with revulsion. The harm done to victims is unspeakable.
In May 2018, young Catholics were disgusted when Rodi refused to disassociate himself with the commencement address of pro-gay Fr. James Martin at Springhill College in Mobile. Rodi even sat on the dais with Martin and applauded some of his comments, according to one report.
Future phases of the capital development plan will include a football/soccer stadium, baseball field, concessions, restrooms and additional parking.