94 thoughts on “Fr. Virgilio Elizondo Takes His Own Life

    • Thank you, Bob, for this excellent report on dear Father Virgil’s passing as well as your accurate and concise explanation of the pending civil suit. I also appreciate your thoughtful responses to many of the comments, a few of which were stunningly ignorant.

      I was really disappointed in the Express-News’ placement of the original news story last May on A1 and surprised there has not been a follow-up story. Anyone can file a civil suit and placement on A1 seemed outrageous to me. Perhaps I missed more in-depth reporting by the Express News, but I felt damage was done and a course was set for the demise of a man’s reputation.

      From what I know personally, Father Virgil was extremely eager to face any charge in court from the very start. And, as you reported, no other accusations before or after this civil suit were ever made. That says a lot if one knows anything about criminals’ behavior.

      Again, thank you for addressing many issues that deserved to be shared.

  1. May God bless his soul! He was a wonderful priest towards my family and I for over three generations. Personally, I cannot believe that someone that I’ve known for so very long, who I have seen interact with children and teenagers numerous times over the last 23 years, would abuse someone. He aided me during the despair I encountered after my grandmother’s death and during my sister’s health problems, and I shall always remember him fondly for that.

  2. It’s quite tragic for both the San Antonio and South Bend communities, where both sides of my family hail from. Whether or not the lawsuit allegations are true, for an accomplished Father to take his own life, it is a deep wound in the Catholic community.

  3. Virgil is in heaven where he belongs. I know he trusted God to take him there. It’s a tragedy he suffered so much this past few months. Kathy and I took him to dinner at Paesano’s, a month ago at his favorite restaurant and he was engaged and happy.

    • It is not prudent to canonize the recently deceased. It can give the erroneous impression that they don’t need our prayers. We should pray for the souls of our departed because they could be in purgatory. God’s Mercy is infinite but it is not something to be presumed. God waits to shower His Mercy on the souls who are repentant. Eternal rest grant unto him I Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, may he through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

  4. So sadden to hear this news. His books, especially the Future is Mestizo, influenced my thinking and view of the world in terms of cultural and theological perspectives. Rest in peace, Fr Virgil.

  5. Thank you for the story and the video. Kathy and I just watched it all the way through and it makes us feel as though Virgil is still with us. For 30 years we had dinner with him about once a month and he filled our hearts and minds with his lovely stories of love and acceptance. I’m sure he trusted God to accept him in heaven as he accepted everyone on earth.

  6. Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, oh Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, amen.

  7. Guadalupe: Mother of the Americas
    The Future Is Mestizo
    Gallilean Journey: The Mexican-American Journey

    Just a small part of Virgil’s formidable body of theological and sociological work which has, at once, illuminated and fostered appreciation of the cultural richness of our community.

    Our world is a little smaller today. Farewell, Virgilio. Vaya con Dios. Rest in Peace.

    • I do not believe you will find any medical or religious professionals experienced with individuals who have taken their lives who will agree with your generalization. People take their lives because they see no alternative. How they reach such a dark moment is complex and often beyond comprehension for those who are closest to the individual, but your certain judgment is surely unsupported by any evidence. –RR

        • Ms. McEwan, please refrain from making blanket statements on subjects of which you clearly have no knowledge.
          Suicide is the last alternative to the desperately depressed. It says nothing of guilt or innocence.
          To be falsely accused at 80, after a lifetime of giving, could well push someone over the edge. And we have no idea what other factors are at play in a person’s heart.
          God is merciful, and expects the same from us.

      • SNAP stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. That word…”survivors”. It means that there are those victims of clergy abuse who have taken their own lives because they…well, I’ll let Mr. Rivard tell it: “…because they see no alternative. How they reach such a dark moment is complex and often beyond comprehension for those who are closest to the individual…”

        Not a word in any of these comments about the victims. Not. One. Word.

        Further, very few of the allegations brought against priests turn out to be false: “Patrick Schiltz, dean of the University of St. Thomas law school in Minnesota, said that over more than a decade he had defended Catholic dioceses against sexual-abuse lawsuits in more than 500 cases, and that he had concluded that ‘fewer than 10’ of those cases were based on false accusations.” (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news5/2002_08_31_Dillon_DoubtIs.htm#schiltz)

        • You are wrong that I didn’t include victims in the article. I included the good work of the Boston Globe and the ‘Spotlght’ film. The article was about Fr. Virgil Elizondo, his life and his death. ‘John Doe’ has yet to offer any evidence to support his allegation. Perhaps you should make this one #11 on your list. –RR

        • Mr. Karaffa’s and other SNAP-prompted posts regarding Father Elizondo seem to indicate:

          In SNAP-World, the meta-narrative is victim-hood. All other narratives must strictly mirror and conform.

          In SNAP-Anthropology, all accused priests are guilty predators; they just have not yet been convicted.

          In SNAP-Jurisprudence, convicting and punishing 10 falsely accused is a small sacrifice to ensure punishment of 490 rightly accused; only accusers have rights; truth is not an affirmative defense; guilt is presumed; innocence must be proven; facts must not be admitted as evidence.

          In SNAP-Judgement, there is no judicial sentence harsh enough, nor eternal torment horrific enough, for accused, even if not convicted, priests.

          • “Innocent until proven guilty.” Even for priests who are accused of child abuse. But just the fact of accusing a priest these days is tantamount to making people believe he’s guilty. What is a bishop to do? Putting a priest on an extended leave from his duties, and later on finding out that he’s innocent of all charges will inevitably change the priest and leave bad memories in people’s minds. Permitting an accused priest to continue functioning “in good standing” and later finding out that he’s truly guilty of the accusation would be horrific in the minds of people toward the good reputation of the bishop and the Church. What a mess in the Church of Jesus.

  8. It sadden me. The unproven and unfounded alleged allegations takes a toll on one’s mind and heart. No matter how much support you have, it shatters your soul and puts you in a deep depression, not being able to do the works that you are so passionate about.

  9. It sadden me. The unproven and unfounded alleged allegations takes a toll on one’s mind and heart. No matter how much support you have, it shatters your soul and puts you in a deep depression, not being able to do the works that you are so passionate about. He and his family are in my prayers. May God rest his soul in the despairing decision he made to end his life. Only God knows what happened.

  10. This is sad and shocking news. I worked extensively with Virgilio in the 1980s when he was Rector of the cathedral and I was working at Univision. He always enjoyed a little conversation in French with me every time we met. It is so sad to hear his life had to end this way. He touched the hearts of many in this community and will be missed by all of us who knew him and appreciated his truly gregarious personality.

  11. Virgilio opened the door for so many young Latino theologians to illuminate the pathway to God. He charted the successful course of authors, writers, creators and TV producers. He embodied our Mexican American spirit, and was a powerful tenor in the choir of Hispanic leaders everywhere leading the heartfelt corridos and baladas of our community. I saw him last month. Once again, he inspired a new mission to serve San Antonio’s education needs. Adios, buen amigo.

  12. Fr. Virgilio Elizondo served the people of San Antonio in parish ministry; he led theological education in the U.S and was a bright light for the Church across the world. May God give him peace. He was my friend.

  13. Forgive me, but he was guilty. There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to children being abused. If he knew, and did nothing, he was guilty. While I do not wish the hopelessness that precedes suicide on a single living soul, I also have to watch, on a daily basis, what it takes to center a child who has been abused by adults.

    • Fr. Virgil Elizondo was not charged with any crime. The allegation in the civil suit remains unproven. That doesn’t mean it is untrue, nor does it mean it has any validity. It is simply that: an unproven allegation, and none of us will ever know more. In death, does he not deserve the presumption of inncocence he would have been accorded in life had there ever been a criminal charge filed against him? –RR

        • Innocent people do kill themselves when they feel hopelessly judged by people who don’t care to know the real them!! Obviously you have been blessed to never lose a friend or loved one to suicide! God bless Fr. Elizondo!

  14. I met Fr. Virgil Elizondo in 1988 after a tragic car accident in which my fiance was killed. I struggled very hard to understand how I survived and he did not. I blamed myself wishing I had been the driver, wishing we had left an hour later, wishing we waited till the rain stopped. I began to doubt my faith, my purpose, my worth. My own parish priest ignored my request for a visit as I worked through the agony I felt. I had heard about Virgil and showed up at his door unannounced. As I poured out my story he reached out in the most paternal helpful way, and my hurt began to heal. He had a heart bigger than anyone. We became friends and over the years I never forgot his generosity of spirit and gentle character. I remain his biggest fan and am heartbroken that he suffered so greatly and none of us could do for him what he did for us.

    • I never met Fr.Virgil Elizondo but I’m hoping that you can share his words of encouragement that he gave to you ,so i can share with my niece who in Jan 2,2016 lost her husband of thirty years in a tragic vehicle accident where she and her 6yr old grandson were ejected from the vehicle ,her husband died instantly after several times their truck rolled landing on passenger side where she and her grandson would have been sitting.Maybe thru you Fr. Virgil can help me help her deal with this trememdous lost i do not wish on anyone.God Bless

  15. Disclaimer: This is not about guilt or innocence.

    When I was a good Catholic boy, we learned that people who took their own lives ended up in a worse place than the Archbishop seems to indicate in his statement.

    • Five seconds’ googling brought me to this:

      Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2282-83: Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

      So I don’t see anything inconsistent there.

    • When you were a boy, the Catholic Church had little appreciation for the medical realities of depression and how it diminishes an individual’s capacity to fully exercise free will.

      • Good grief, what a ridiculous statement. Have you never read ANY of the doctors of the Church? The mystics? The desert fathers? The Baltimore Catechism? All expound some of the most lucid expositions of human psychology ever penned. Medical realities? Right, because no one ever understood the effects of physical or mental anguish before us “enlightened” moderns.

        • I am reminded of a story from the Desert Fathers (from memory so I hope I am close to accurate). A monk passed a man he deemed a sinner and condemned him as he passed by. Later in his monastical cell an angel of Lord came to the monk demanding “Now that you have condemned this man Almighty God wants to know where you plan to house his soul for eternity!” Best we can do his hope and pray.

    • Right. But knowledge of the human mind is much more extensive than it once was. Whereas in the past a Christian burial was denied to those who committed suicide, now it isn’t.

      Don’t lose hope. Maybe he repented during those last few moments.

  16. May God have mercy on his soul.

    What I think about suicide is irrelevant. What does the Church teach about suicide?
    CCC 2280-2283 and 2325

    it is forbidden and it can cause scandal. However, there are circumstances that can diminish the responsibility of this act.

    CCC 2283
    We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

  17. He was reportedly facing homosexual molestation charges. It appears he was taking what he considered an easy way out. Hopefully, somehow, he repented. Otherwise, his soul is lost, and that is a far worse tragedy than his bodily death.

  18. We should withhold judgement of Fr. Elizondo’s soul, one way or the other. What he did was objectively wrong and a serious sin, but his culpability may be diminished by circumstances that Jesus alone knows. But because this is a serious sin, we also should not be canonizing him, even with diminished culpability. If mercy was extended and some type of repentance took place, he most likely will have to spend time in Purgatory, where he will need our prayers, not our accolades.

    • At this point there is only an accusation of wrong doing. We can’t presume that he did anything wrong, please.

  19. Como familiar de Virgilio pude disfrutar en ocasiones de su inmensa bondad y sabiduría ,aderezada siempre con una gran sonrisa que te envolvía en un lazo de armonía y bienestar .El lamentable final de su vida me llena de tristeza y no alcanzo a comprender el nivel de sufrimiento que lo empujo a tomar esa decisión. Me sorprende la apatía de la iglesia que en lugar de ayudar a rebatir los infundados argumentos que se le fincaban cómodamente le dio la espalada y lo dejo solo y a la deriva. No tengo la estatura moral para juzgar a la iglesia pero si puedo afirmar que en casos comprobadas de pederastas la congregación se ha desbordado en ocultarlo y porque a Virgilio no, se trata de un complot o alguna maniobra para desprestigiarlo y quitarlo del camino a alguien que le estorbaba ??
    Una demanda después de 32 años? absurdo.

  20. I have known Father Virgil since I was a little boy and never did he ever show any signs of being the man he was accused of. My grandpa and him were friends for many years and he was always apart of family functions. He will be greatly missed.

  21. A great friend I will never forget. He believed in me and was very proud of my accomplishments in sports. I remember he allowed me to give my testimony at the San Fernando Cathedral during the youth mass. Thank you for your friendship my friend.

  22. Hearing this tragic news is paralyzing for all of us who knew and loved Father Virgil for decades. Named one of the top theologians of all time, I was honored to emcee the ceremony where he received the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame, the oldest and most prestigious award for American Catholics. The medal has the Latin inscription “Magna est verities et praevalebit,” meaning “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.” Enough said. In every conversation we had in the past few months, he asked only that I would pray for the person who made these horrific allegations against him. Father Virgil was the kindest, most loving and forgiving person I have ever known. The embodiment of Jesus Christ. God bless you, my friend.

  23. Could be: 1) Someone killed him. 2. He was cleaning his gun and it went off. 3) He was mentally disturbed to the point that he was living a despondent life and figured he couldn’t go on living. What do the forensics adduce? In any case, pray to Jesus, God Almighty on behalf of Father Virgilio.

  24. So sad. Knew him personally with Archbishop Patrick Flores at the Mexican American Culture Center in SA. His writings influenced many people and his sermons and talks were deep and outstanding. RIP

  25. Very odd to commit suicide (a mortal sin) over a frivolous lawsuit. Very odd. If he was innocent he now has more to worry about for eternity.

  26. For those of us who have personally been touched by suicide by friends and family, Marianelly, your comment is truly hurtfull! God alone will be his judge. He contributed immensely to the people of San Antonio, Requiescat in pace!

  27. For many years Fr. Virgilio has been one of the main faces of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The accusation against him and his death yesterday is a great blow to our Catholic community. I think our only response can be to pray earnestly for him and for all who have been hurt by this. Thinking of the thousands of times he held in his hands the sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord. In this Year of Mercy we seek mercy for him and deeper conversion for ourselves.

  28. I met Virgilio Elizondo through San Antonio’s former Archbishop, Patrick Flores, over 20 years ago. As a spiritual man of God, Fr. Elizondo would always intellectually approach mankind from all walks of life with humility and compassion. RIP

  29. I believe the hierarchy at the chancery could have done more to support him when the accusation first came up. He was innocent and an honorable man suffering from other medical problems. The many of us who knew him personally and loved him understand, and that’s what matters.

  30. This is a devastating and most sad situation — a serious, sudden gut punch. Virgil was a kind and genial man. A great teacher too! He made many contributions to the people of God. Thru his absence, he will be sorely missed by many.

  31. Prayers out to Fr. Virgilio and to an urgent need for Church Reformation and clarity of its procedures///Oraciones para el Padre Virgilio y para una urgente Reforma en la Iglesia y claridad en sus aplicaciones y procesos.

  32. As a newspaper reporter in SA in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I found Father Elizondo a delight to talk to and interview. He was marvelous every time I spoke to him. He was spiritual and inspirational. At a church function my wife and I attended, he saw us and waved us over. My wife was holding our infant son at the time and the father waved us over.
    Seeing my son, he invited us to his office at San Fernando and with some of his staff there, he gave my son a special blessing, not one we asked for, but one he just gave freely. It was wonderful. That’s just who he was, a wonderfully spiritual man.

  33. Suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness. It is also a mortal sin. Homosexual priest are the “filth” in the priesthood. Just sayin.

  34. I wrote a letter to the editor SA Express and News denouncing the front page allegation made against Fr. Elizondo by a John Doe. The news release made it seem like Fr. Elizondo was guilty before being allowed to prove his innocence. Obviously, my letter was not published. It is sad when the media has the power to condemn someone based on allegations.

    I never met Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, but I knew of him. May he rest in peace and may our Lord bless him with eternal life.


  35. Life’s journey since the garden of Eden, is based on human choices between Good & Evil, God or the Devil. In the battle for our souls God allows the work and words or his son Jesus and his followers to make the case for God/Good to man kind, and through God given freewill, the Devil is left to appeal to our choices for evil over good, focusing primarily on the good people, through the evil acts of good people and man made short comings.

    The Devil does not waste much time trying to subvert bad people, but focusing on subversion of good people, the better the person the harder he works.

    Put in context;

    God did not mandate celibacy for the church, but man did; 325AD-Council of Nicea: decreed that after ordination a priest could not marry. Proclaimed the Nicene Creed.
    352AD-Council of Laodicea: women are not to be ordained.

    When Good people are denied the God given and Natural right to marry, the Devil was given a green light to work on these Good people’s Natural sense and need for intimate love. Until the church see’s that light and acts on it, they will be left in a state of denial, which manifests itself in these uncontrollable and unspeakable evils.

  36. Marcos ocejo a long time friend of father and like a brother.I was a lector since 1977 even before father came to san Fernando at one time we had about over 60 lectors miss Marty was president and I second we all enjoy father in our present. He was always there when I needed him we talk for long hours in his office never disrespect me in any way. I will dearly miss him our blessed mother will take care of father no matter the cost. Good,bad,fat,skinny. I remember father use to say who’s perfect in this world. Now I belong to st Leo’s the great.

  37. Such terrible news! I am just starting to read some of the Latino Theologians’ stuff and Fr. Elizondo’s obviously one of them. I stopped reading his stuff when I heard about the allegations as I was in a bit of shock and disbelief. I am deeply saddened to hear the news. I look forward to reading his books some day and contributing to such an incredible body of theology.

    Rest in peace brother. May God’s mercy be upon you and all of us.

  38. Tokayo, the Lord be with you. Receive the peace that Jesus alone can give you. Thank you for making my world kinder, brighter, and more hopeful by your life and words.

    I have seen you assist in and concelebrate mass with Bishop Flores. I heard you preach in the San Antonio cathedral. Then we were introduced to each other when Fr. Jose came to visit. You knew him from the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila. You are now with him in the eternal embrace o f God.

    Pray for us sinners still on this side of life as we pray and thank for God’s mercy on you. Pray for us sinners who drove you to despair as we, self-righteously, cast the first stones in the guise of fair journalism since you were a public figure. Pray for us sinners who were blind to your need for true human friendship and failed to keep watch and pray with you as darkness encircled. With Mother Mary, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

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