I was wondering when we would have an update on this story.
Bishop Tod Brown of Orange has placed Father Augustin Escobar on leave following reports that he permitted a Protestant pastor to act as a concelebrant during Mass and to distribute Holy Communion.
Concelebrating Mass with ministers of ecclesial communities that do not have apostolic succession is an “exceptionally serious” crime against the sacraments, according to canonical norms currently in force. Violation of the norm falls under the purview of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and may result in dismissal from the clerical state without an ecclesiastical trial. [Source]
Fr. Escobar has responded.
“Church law (canon 908) prohibits ‘Catholic priests from concelebrating the Eucharist with priests or ministers of Churches or ecclesial communities which are not in full communion with the Catholic Church,” wrote Fr. Agustin Escobar in a letter dated Feb. 15. “That is why last Monday, when he learned of my actions, Bishop Brown immediately suspended my faculties to carry out any priestly sacramental activities. That is why you will not see me celebrating Masses here at St. Norbert. The Bishop was right to do so. What I did was a grave error on my part.”
“What I told the bishop, I wish to publicly say to you, the priests and parishioners of St. Norbert: I am very sorry for what I did,” wrote Fr. Escobar. “Although the great hope for all Christians is that we shall be one body as Jesus has asked us to be, we are not there at this time and it was not my place to take actions which only the leadership of the Catholic and Presbyterian Churches can sanction at such time as they agree to do so. I promise to do all I can to make amends for my actions and I am willing to be obedient to Bishop Brown in whatever recourse he or those at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judge to be appropriate for me.”
“I hope one day to be allowed to serve as a priest again, which I will certainly do with a great deal more humility since I see the confusion and anger my actions have caused,” Fr. Escobar’s letter concluded. “I beg all of you to forgive me.”
That’s a fairly decent apology and way above the usual “non-apology apologies.”
Even those who first brought the incident to the attention of Bishop Brown are now calling for fence-mending and reconciliation. In an email addressed to Orange County Catholics, one parishioner at St. Norbert’s who asked not to be identified by name said the suspension of Fr. Escobar “is not a cause to rejoice.”