Remember how we said that if you're a priest who is involved with a woman and you don't want to get caught, don't neglect to pay child support? We can add: Don't two-time her! And now, the latest clerical soap opera from Cali...
Father Rodrigo Carvajal Vargas, 73, chaplain of La Merced, resigned yesterday, after being accused of cohabiting for 20 years with a separated woman.
The public complaint was made by professor Nohelia Quintero, who stated that she had also had a romantic relationship with the priest for the last three years.
"I am making this situation public because I thought that a man who is consecrated to God would be faithful to me. He promised me that he would separate from his first woman, with whom he has lived for 20 years," Nohelia declared.
The teacher added that she met the priest three years ago in the chapel of La Merced.
"We started to flirt until I got it going and asked him to go out with me; that's where we gave each other our first kiss. Just as some women are attracted to uniforms, I'm attracted to cassocks," the woman added, stating that the apartment where she lives in the El Cabey neighborhood was bought with the cleric.
For his part, the coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cali, Darío de Jesús Monsalve, said that Rodrigo Carvajal Vargas, the priest in question, resigned on Wednesday morning in a message he sent to his office.
Carvajal was pastor of the Church of La Merced, located near the Archdiocesan Curia, both in the historic district of Cali, which is the capital of the Valle del Cauca department.
"His resignation was accepted," Monsalve said, calling the case of Carvajal, who had allegedly been cohabiting for twenty years with a separated woman without anyone noticing it, sad.
Moreover, it appears that he had been carrying on a parallel relationship for the last three years with another woman, also separated, who publicized the priest's marital life [sic] through Mario Fernando Prado's 'Sirirí' column in El País last Tuesday.
[Translator's Note: If you read Spanish, you'll also want to read this column, which adds considerable background to this telenovela...]
The coadjutor archbishop said that a disciplinary process would be opened against Carvajal to hear him and the people who want to make complaints or clarify this case, to identify what type of fault is involved, and make a determination."
"It's the normal procedure that is followed when complaints such as these become known," Monsalve noted, indicating that the rights of both the priest and those who have been affected by his behavior will be respected.
Monsalve also stated that Fr. Carvajal has been suspended and will face diciplinary action, in accordance with canon law.
The trial would be conducted by the church tribunal of Cali, the coadjutor archbishop continued, adding that "if the accusation of cohabiting or living in a common-law relationship holds up, there is a law in Canon Code that is very clear, and a canonical punishment."
It is, he added, "suspension of his power of governance, i.e. his priestly faculties are suspended."
The Catholic hierarch also observed that Carvajal could possibly ask Church authorities for forgiveness.
"It's a possibility, but I can't anticipate it," the coadjutor archbishop of Cali said.