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By Rev. Michael X., J.C.L.
Two priests in active ministry of the archdiocese of Chicago were arrested on Labor Day by police as they were caught engaged in gay sex in a car parked "in full view of the public passing by" along the most popular tourist avenue in Miami Beach, Florida. One of the priests, 39-year-old Rev. Diego Berrío Barrera, S.T.L., J.C.L. was just confirmed in his office as a judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal of the archdiocese of Chicago by Cdl. Blase Cupich.
Both men were charged with misdemeanor counts of lewd conduct, while Rev. Edwin Cortez, an extern priest of the diocese of Soacha in Columbia, with whom Berrío was cavorting, was also charged with one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure.
Berrío held the high canonical office of judge in addition to those of pastor of the Misión San Juan Diego of Arlington Heights, Illinois, spiritual director and coordinator of the Office for Externs and International Priests ad interim for the archdiocese of Chicago. That is a total of four canonical offices, with each customarily providing a separate salary to the office holder.
Hailing from Columbia, Berrío came to Chicago via the scandal-ridden Casa Jesus, shut down in 2016 over multiple incidents of homosexual misconduct, including its own longtime rector, Octavio Munoz, busted for male teen porn found on his laptop. Church Militant reported that Casa Jesus was set up in 1987 under Cdl. Joseph Bernardin with the specific aim of funneling gay seminarians from Latin America to the United States.
Berrío studied philosophy at the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellín, obtained a Master of Divinity and a licentiate in sacramental theology and liturgy from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary of Chicago, followed by a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome.
The fact that Cdl. Cupich appointed a homosexual just this past July as a judge of his Metropolitan Tribunal, not to mention appointed one as pastor of Misión San Juan Diego and spiritual director to Hispanic youth, corroborates the claims of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò set forth in his testimony. The former Vatican ambassador to the United States asserted that Cdl. Cupich of Chicago is "blinded by his pro-gay ideology." Blinded indeed, for would Cdl. Cupich state that he knowingly had a sodomite among his priests judging marriage nullity cases?
The additional circumstances, according to Miami Beach Police, of Berrío engaging in oral sex in "broad daylight" with "no tints on the window," "in full view of the public passing by on Ocean Drive and the sidewalk," with police officers having "had to tap on the window to get their attention," embarrassingly destroys Cupich's claim that "the main problem in the crisis of sexual abuse by clergy is not homosexuality, and that affirming this is only a way of diverting attention from the real problem which is clericalism."
Even worse, according to Miami Beach Police, "Our trouble with this is that this is in broad daylight, for anyone to see including children." A children's playground was located at the nearest intersection of where the homosexual activity of the priests was taking place.
While news of deviant clerics being apprehended in flagrante delicto is shockingly becoming more and more common, these two news items highlight, however, just how many dangerous perverts in the priesthood have been appointed by bishops to judge the most confidential and delicate of all Church matters: the marriage nullity cases of laity.
Berrío's arrest is hot on the heels of news that Rev. Robert J. DeLand, J.C.L., 71, a priest of the diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, pleaded no contest to six felony counts, including criminal sexual misconduct, one day before he was set to begin trial for sexual abuse crimes involving three male teenagers.
Until his arrest, DeLand was judicial vicar, or chief judge, of the diocesan tribunal of the diocese of Saginaw, principally deciding marriage nullity cases on behalf of Bp. Joseph Cistone. DeLand will be jailed for one year and will be registered as a sex offender.
Canon 1421, § 3 of the Code of Canon Law states: "Judges are to be of unimpaired reputation and doctors or at least licensed in canon law."
Sodomy is and always has been a canonical crime in the 2,000-year history of canon law. It has always been a disqualifying factor, not only in the selection and appointment of canonical judges, but equally to the office of pastor and any other exercise of public ministry for that matter.
Canonists have long known that American tribunals have become a "dumping ground" for bishops to place "problem" priests whom they are obliged to care for, but cannot place elsewhere in full-time public ministry in parishes. Worse, however, is the choice of a bishop, like Cdl. Cupich of Chicago, to appoint, knowingly or even unwittingly a deviant and disordered priest to the canonical office of judge in a diocesan tribunal to decide marriage nullity cases.
The time has come for America's bishops to see the writing on the wall — the clear and present threat of homosexuals among the clergy under their official responsibility — and act against it.
Cardinal Cupich has spectacularly failed in protecting adult and minor faithful of his archdiocese and that of Miami from the likes of Berrío and Cortez. He owes both Abp. Viganò and the faithful of his archdiocese an apology.