EL PASO, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Democrat candidate for Senate in Texas has been accused of anti-Catholic bigotry after an old video surfaced of him chastising a priest.
Democrat Beto O'Rourke is running for U.S. Senate in Texas, challenging pro-life GOP incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.
In June 2011, Catholic priest Fr. Michael Rodriguez spoke during an El Paso City Council meeting and argued against extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples. Then-Councilman O'Rourke lashed back, criticizing the priest for the "moral failings of the Church you represent, especially as you try to take the moral high-ground in this debate."
"Luckily, I don't need your approval to move forward," O'Rourke quipped to the priest. "I want to know why this, for you, has become the burning issue of its day, and how you can stand here with a straight face and say that this is a priority for the Church."
Father Rodriguez is a traditional priest who regularly offered the Traditional Latin Mass — also known as the Tridentine Mass, or the Extraordinary Form.
O'Rourke began lecturing Fr. Rodriguez about some of the problems he has with the Catholic Church:
I can think of two obvious cases where the Church has failed on a global level. For one, I know in the very recent past, the Pope, our current Pope, was in Africa, telling the people in that country [sic] who are suffering a holocaust of HIV and AIDS infection, not to use condoms. I can think of another very significant and serious problem within the Catholic Church, which is the proven widespread abuse of children within the care of the Catholic Church.
O'Rourke received applause as he said, "I wonder where your outspokenness is on those issues."
A week later, a fellow city representative, Rachel Quintana, rebuked O'Rourke during a council meeting. She apparently said that his remarks were "totally out of line."
But then-El Paso Mayor John Cook told Quintana she was out of time at the podium.
For the current Senate race in Texas, incumbent Republican Cruz is beating his Democrat foe in the polls.
In the face of the uphill battle, O'Rourke's campaign recently raised a record-breaking $38.1 million in about three months. The previous record-holder for campaign fundraising in a Senate race was New York's Rick Lazio. Running against Hillary Clinton for a Senate seat in 2000, Lazio raised some $22 million.
O'Rourke is pro-abortion. In April, he received a ringing endorsement from radical abortion lobbying group NARAL.
"Beto O'Rourke has fought tirelessly for women's reproductive rights in Congress and he will do the same in the Senate," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL.
Hogue continued, "NARAL Pro-Choice America is proud to endorse him and to support his campaign."
In contrast, Cruz has a reputation for being very pro-life.
During a recent debate, the issue of abortion came up. Cruz claimed, "I'm pro-life," and he accused O'Rourke of wanting "taxpayer funding for abortions, late-term, even for illegal aliens."
"The people of Texas and especially the Hispanic community, we don't want to see taxpayer-funded ... abortions and late-term abortions. That's extreme," said Cruz.
He added, "He's voted for that — an extreme position. Fewer than nine percent of Texans agree with that."
O'Rourke, meanwhile, reaffirmed his "pro-choice" position, saying, "I will only vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice who believes in a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own body."
President Donald Trump has announced that he will stump for Cruz, his former opponent in the GOP presidential primaries, at a rally scheduled for Oct. 22 in Houston. After losing to Trump in the primaries, Cruz refused to endorse Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) — following months of bitter insults between the two.
In one infamous incident, Trump argued on Twitter that his wife was more attractive than Cruz's. On another occasion, Trump claimed Cruz's father was linked to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
When asked at the time why he didn't endorse Trump at the RNC, Cruz said, "I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father."