SAN ANTONIO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A beloved Texas priest has been officially stripped of his faculties after his defense of Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality landed him in hot water with his bishop.
Father Clay Hunt was notified the day before Thanksgiving that his faculties were being removed immediately. The move came five months after the San Antonio Family Association (SAFA) had warned, "Fr. Clay has been and is being targeted and attacked. There is an attempt by certain people in the hierarchy of the archdiocese of San Antonio who seem set to remove him [from] the priesthood."
Father Hunt initially came under fire in 2018 for his denouncement of homosexual acts. Hunt was simply reinforcing the Church's longstanding teaching on homosexuality when he confronted newly elected mayor of Del Rio, Texas, Bruno Lozano.
In June 2018, Commissioners in neighboring Bexar County approved a proclamation recognizing June 29, 2019 as "Pride Bigger than Texas Day."
"You're in contradiction to the Lord, and the Lord was the one who said, 'If you are opposed to my precepts and decrees, there is no truth within you and I do not know you,'" Fr. Hunt told the commissioners at the time. "So, the five of you are very responsible to God for that."
That year Hunt was removed from his parish of eight years, St. Joseph's Parish in Del Rio, Texas. During his time as pastor at St. Joseph's, Hunt saw great success. Local Catholics say his community initiatives and leadership fostered an atmosphere where the Catholic faith thrived.
Under his pastorship, the three-parish community of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart gained eight new deacons in a single year — a record number for such an area. Hunt was responsible for the onboarding of these deacons and was assisted by retired priest, Fr. Antonio Moreno. Moreno taught the ordination courses.
Local Catholics observed the community's thriving Catholic culture has since come to a halt following his removal.
At that time, San Antonio's Abp. Gustavo García-Siller assured parishioners that Fr. Hunt was only being placed on sabbatical. But in reality, he sent Hunt away to Houston for psychological evaluation.
Months later, Hunt was made chaplain for the archdiocese's prison ministries. What was intended as a punishment resulted in flourishing success for several prisons, according to laity.
One parishioner recalled watching a local news story on the success of the ministry. He was pleasantly surprised to see Fr. Hunt was the priest saying Mass in the video report. Speaking to the priest's ability to spread the gospel no matter where he is placed, the parishioner remarked, "We have seen God not only show up, but show off like only He can."
García-Siller has a long history of liberal doings, which Church Militant has reported on in the past.
Less reported are the actions of his auxiliary bishop, Michael Boulette. Shortly after Boulette's installation, he reportedly made the claim that there is no room for conservative priests in San Antonio.
A source in the archdiocese informed Church Militant that Boulette had a significant role in the handling of Hunt. In line with the bishop's anti-orthodoxy remark, Del Rio was soon emptied of many other faithful Catholic figures who supported Hunt.
After Hunt left, two priests soon followed: Fr. Martin Alonso Bustos González and Fr. Carlos Oscar Velasquez Lazaro. The duo was on loan from Mexico. Their parish in Texas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is known for its orthodoxy, offering many Spanish Masses as well as a weekly Latin Mass.
The priests were sent back to Mexico due to allegations that they held second collections without involving the archdiocese. Sources close to the events claim the accusations were false. The two priests were very vocal in their support of Fr. Hunt.
Archbishop García-Siller and his companions' ruthlessness is not reserved only for immigrant priests. Sister Maria Esther Cardenas, a nun in her 70s, was terminated from her position at St. Joseph's as director of religious education. Her removal was attributed to lack of funds following the initial Wuhan virus lockdowns.
After her termination, Sr. Esther taught an additional two weeks without pay to make it easier for the students.
Members of the church's finance council objected to her removal, claiming there were other areas in the budget that could be sacrificed. Sister Esther now lives out her retirement thanks to the generosity of Catholics from St. Joseph's as well as social security. She was also very vocal in her support of Fr. Hunt.
Retired priest, Fr. Moreno — who volunteered his time in multiple capacities — was also removed. Moreno too was very vocal in his support for Hunt.
Parishioners have faced backlash from the archdiocese for asking about Hunt's status. In a town hall meeting between former parishioners and García-Siller, sources say he screamed at two women for asking why the archbishop had lied about where he was sending Hunt back in 2018.
Church Militant's San Antonio Resistance chapter is organizing a rally outside the San Antonio chancery on Saturday, Dec. 19 from noon until sunset. The group is demanding justice for Fr. Hunt and wants the archbishop to restore the priest to full faculties.
For information about the event, contact San Antonio Resistance leader, Ian, at firstname.lastname@example.org.