Bringing the Text to Life

Counterfeit Clergy Jeremiah 23:1-6

Counterfeit Clergy

What happens when a pastor isn’t who he or she appears to be?

There’s a scene in the movie Catch Me If You Can (2002) when Frank Abagnale Jr., played by Leonardo DiCaprio, confesses to being a con artist:

Frank Abagnale Jr.: “Brenda, I don’t want to lie to you anymore. All right? I’m not a doctor. I never went to medical school. I’m not a lawyer, or a Harvard graduate, or a Lutheran. Brenda, I ran away from home a year and a half ago when I was 16.”

Brenda Strong: “Frank? Frank? You’re not a Lutheran?”

Now meet Father Frederico B. Gomez de Esparza.


Father “Fred” was a priest who was said to hail from Mexico and who served bilingual parishes in Arizona a few years back. By all accounts, “Father Fred” did his job well. “Everybody loved him, thought he was a great priest. He’s great, gave a great homily …” says Maria Doten, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma. Even his superiors were impressed. According to Monsignor Richard...

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