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SAN ANTONIO (ChurchMilitant.com) - First, the archbishop of San Antonio fired the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church (OLA). Next, he banished a group of nuns attached to the parish for almost a decade. Now, it appears he's turning on children from his own diocese.
Inside sources tell Church Militant that as part of an ongoing campaign of persecution directed against the parish, Abp. Gustavo Garcia-Siller is refusing to allow some students attending its school to be confirmed along with their classmates.
The Atonement Academy has been awarded a National Blue Ribbon of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education and earned a spot on the Cardinal Newman Society's Catholic Education Honor Roll. It is ranked San Antonio's top Catholic school — and one of the 50 best in the United States.
Owing to the academy's spiritual and academic excellence, parents from across San Antonio sacrifice to send their children there. Many students, registered members of OLA, are part of the Houston-based, Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, under the care of Bp. Steven J. Lopes. Students who worship at other parishes on Sunday, meanwhile, fall under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese of San Antonio, under archbishop Garcia-Siller.
Bishop Lopes will be at Our Lady of the Atonement on Sunday, April 15 to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on academy students.
But Abp. Garcia-Siller is reportedly refusing to allow those who are not OLA members — any student who attends a parish under his jurisdiction — to be confirmed with their Atonement Academy classmates.
The ban is highly unusual. Bishops almost always give permission for students to receive sacraments in a parish or from a bishop not their own.
Sources in San Antonio describe Garcia-Siller's refusal as the latest in a string of retaliatory acts against OLA — his way of penalizing the parish for transferring to the Personal Ordinariate last year without surrendering its property to the archdiocese.
In January, the archbishop expelled a group of traditional sisters, members of Mother Angelica's Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, from OLA, ordering them back to their motherhouse in Alabama. OLA members noted that even as he tore their parish family apart, Garcia-Siller was tweeting statements like "Anything or anyone who divides families is not from God," and "Families should be together. We know it; We believe it! God wants it! Everything else is from the devil."
By tossing out the sisters, Garcia-Siller destroyed their plans to build a new monastery in San Antonio, robbing his city and all of Texas of a tremendous wellspring of grace.
A year earlier, he dismissed pastor Fr. Christopher Phillips from OLA's pulpit, in a move parishioners blasted as "illegal and abusive." Father Phillips' dismissal, they noted, came just months after Garcia-Siller welcomed disgraced gay priest Fr. Marco Mercado (an old colleague from his days in the archdiocese of Chicago) into ministry in San Antonio.
All this, inside sources allege, is not enough for the archbishop. In his zeal to retaliate against Our Lady of the Atonement, Garcia-Siller has now decided to punish the children of his own archdiocese, using a sacrament of the Church.
Church Militant reached out to the archdiocese of San Antonio for comment on Wednesday and Thursday, but the apostolate's calls were not returned.