Tumult brings church notice

The Fayetteville ObserverAugust 18, 2009 

— A representative of the Raleigh Diocese is expected to attend Mass on Wednesday at the church where parishioners padlocked their priest out of the building over the weekend.

Many of the parishioners at Iglesia Catolica San Andres in Red Springs are urging their religious leaders to remove the parish priest, Father Walter Ospina.

Monsignor David Brockman, the vicar general of the Catholic Diocese, is expected to attend the 6 p.m. Mass. Afterward, he will read a statement from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge on the volatile church situation involving Ospina.

Ospina, who is 33, has been the priest at San Andres, or St. Andrew Catholic Church, for 13 months.

On Sunday morning, a large group of church members held a protest in the church parking lot. They padlocked Ospina out of the parish, saying no Mass would be held there until Ospina was removed.

They say they feel betrayed by him. They say he doesn't make time for them and that he's not active in the Hispanic community of Robeson County.

An allegation also has been made that he has acted inappropriately.

On Sunday, St. Pauls police Chief Tommy Hagens said the Robeson County District Attorney's Office is looking into the allegation.

No charges have been filed against Ospina, who has denied doing anything wrong.

Hagens could not be reached for comment Monday.

Frank Morock, a spokesman for the Raleigh Diocese, said this week that his office has found no reason to remove Ospina and that he will remain pastor at the church.

Morock said Ospina will be giving the Wednesday Mass. When asked about the possibility of parishioners trying to bar his entry again, Morock said, "We hope that they will [allow him to enter his church]."

Ospina, a Colombia native, was ordained in 2002.

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