Parishioners furious after bishop transfers priest who helped expose fraudulent pastor

LifeSiteNews | 12/10/2018 | Staff
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STARKVILLE, Mississippi, December 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Parishioners fooled by an HIV+ priest who fraudulently claimed he was raising funds to pay for cancer treatment are furious that they’re losing the priest who helped turn him in.

Father Rusty Vincent, acting pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Starkville, Mississippi, is being moved to Vicksburg by Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

Mississippi - Clarion - Ledger - Vincent - Priests

According to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, Vincent was one of at least two priests among the four confidential informants who gave information during a Homeland Security investigation into Father Lenin Vargas. Vargas, the pastor of both St. Joseph’s and Corpus Christi in Macron, Mississippi, collected thousands of dollars from parishioners purportedly to fund personal charities and his own cancer treatments before it was revealed that he did not have cancer. Vargas allegedly spent the money on his own personal expenses, including a dating website for men with HIV.

Vincent was Vargas’s associate pastor and first informed the bishop of his concerns about Vargas and St. Joseph’s parish finances in 2017. Now, in the aftermath of revelations about Vargas and the diocese’s response to his shady fundraising, Vincent has been helping his parishioners heal from the shock of betrayal.

Clarion - Ledger - Vargas - Homeland - Security

According to the Clarion Ledger, Vargas has not been seen at the parish since the Homeland Security raid, and Vincent asked Bishop Kopacz if he could stay on as pastor. Instead Kopacz has transferred the whistle-blowing priest and held three “listening sessions” at St. Joseph’s and one at Corpus Christi to get feedback from parishioners.

The parishioners are not happy. Garett LaFleur underscored to the Clarion Ledger the importance for ordinary lay people of priests fighting episcopal coverup.

Kopacz - Decision - Father - Rusty - Weeks

“Kopacz’s decision to reassign Father Rusty in the coming weeks only illustrates his lack of understanding or care with regard to the needs of our parish,” he said.

“One of the few things...
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