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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Dozens of parishioners are coming to the defense of a South Florida priest who resigned while facing a disturbing accusation.
The rallies began Monday and continue on Tuesday.
Parishioners at St. Joachim Catholic Church in Southwest Miami-Dade are standing behind their pastor Father Cristobal De Paula, known as Father Chris.
“He’s done nothing but wonders for this parish,” said one parishioner.
That church member did not want to give his name.
He’s one of many backing Father Chris after the archdiocese said, there were “Allegations of a serious boundary violation with an adult woman.”
It was investigated twice, the first time the archdiocese said police ended investigation with no action, the second time, the church found the allegations credible. Fr. Chris “…has always denied the substance of the allegation…’
Diego Perez is an church member who believes this about money in a building fund.
“I think totally a money issue, this is not about the priest,” said parishioner Diego Perez. “This is about the 1.2 million dollars that we have built that we can not use. It is our money, it is not the archdiocese money.”
Perez says over the past 10 years they’ve raised money to build a church office and an activities building.
“I think it is unfair that we the people, the humble people working to build our things and for somebody to take it away from our feet, it’s wrong,” he said.
The Archdiocese says no one is taking that building fund money.
A spokeswoman said, “When monies are raised for a building project at a parish level, the money remains with the parish, not the pastor.” She went on to say, “…those plans would continue and the money be used for the project that it was raised for.”
An investigation continues into Father Chris. The Archdiocese saying, “Some financial irregularities were discovered due to Father’s apparent disregard for Archdiocesan policies on the proper handling of parish funds.”
Parishioners say they’d like to see the archbishop himself, Thomas Wenski, come here to address this.
“You should be here, you’re like the CEO, you should be here and listen to the people,” one parishioner said when asked about the archbishop.
CBS4 Miami reached out to Miami-Dade police to see if any charges had been filed.
We have not heard back.