Chicago priest arrested in Miami has ties to shuttered program

Chicago, Ill., Sep 4, 2018 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Two priests from the Archdiocese of Chicago were arrested Monday in Miami, after the men were reportedly found engaged in a sex act within a parked car. At least one of them was a participant in a program for Hispanic seminarians that was suspended by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

One of the priests, Fr. Diego L. Berrio, is the pastor of Mision San Juan Diego in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He was also appointed this summer the interim “coordinator of the Office for Extern and International Priests.”

The other priest, Fr. Edwin Cortes, listed the parish as his address when he was arrested. A Sept. 4 statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago said that Cortes is “an extern priest from Soacha, Colombia who served at St. Aloysius Parish in Chicago for one month, August 1 to August 31, 2018.”

The statement said that Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago “has removed Fr. Berrio from ministry and withdrawn his faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago, effective immediately. The archdiocese will appoint an administrator for the Misión San Juan Diego as soon as possible.”

“Archdiocese representatives have been in contact with Fr. Cortes’ home diocese of Soacha, Colombia and informed them that Fr. Cortes will not be granted additional faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago,” it said.

The priests were both charged with lewd conduct, and Cortes was also charged with indecent exposure.

Berrio was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2008. The priest, a native of Colombia, came to Chicago through the Casa Jesus program, a “house of discernment” in which prospective seminarians from Latin America were invited to consider the priesthood during a year-long program sponsored by the archdiocese. The program was founded in 1987.

The Casa Jesus program was suspended in 2016. In that year, NBC 5 Chicago reported homosexual activity among Casa Jesus participants, and said that in 2015 three participants had been dismissed after visiting a gay bar.

In September 2016, Fr. Octavio Munoz was arrested on child pornography charges. Munoz was the rector of Casa Jesus from 2008 to 2015, when he was transferred to a parish in the archdiocese.

On July 7, 2015, Fr. Kevin Hays, who had been appointed to replace Munoz as rector, toured the priest’s apartment with a Church employee, according to an ABC 7 report.

The employee claimed that a laptop belonging to Munoz was streaming child pornography while he and Hays were in the apartment. The employee reportedly contacted archdiocesan officials about the pornography more than a week later, and was surprised to learn that Hays had not yet reported the matter.

The archdiocese contacted private investigators after the matter was reported, but did not contact police until July 28, the same day Munoz was removed from ministry, according to the Chicago Tribune.

ABC 7 reported that Hays told archdiocesan officials he had not seen pornographic videos playing while visiting the apartment. Hays is now the pastor of Notre Dame de Chicago Parish in Chicago.

In a statement issued shortly after Munoz was charged, the Archdiocese of Chicago said that: “On July 28, 2015, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich removed Father Muñoz from ministry and withdrew his faculties, his authority to minister, after the archdiocese learned that the inappropriate material might involve minors. Given the nature of that material, the archdiocese reported it promptly to the civil authorities and have cooperated fully with their investigation.”

Another Chicago priest, Fr. Clovis Vilchez-Parra, was also arrested on child pornography charges in 2015. The priest had been serving as parochial vicar at Mision San Juan Diego, where Berrio is currently pastor. Vilchez-Parra was sentenced to four years in prison in 2017.

NBC 5 Chicago reported in 2016 that Vilchez-Parra had ties to Casa Jesus, but did not say whether he had been a participant in the program.

Also in 2015, the Archdiocese of Chicago removed Fr. Marco Mercado, who had been a Casa Jesus participant, from his position as pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, Illinois. The archdiocese said that Mercado had had an “inappropriate relationship with an adult man.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago could not be reached for comment.

Editor’s note: This story was updated after a Sept. 4 statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


  1. It’s as if we should do a 180 degree u turn and insist that going forward, only men with wife and children can be priests. Celibacy is attracting gays partly from low income macho countries where a vocation is a step up in income…and spells safety from macho assault. We certainly have no rigorous vetting in some places. Celibacy is attracting gays here in the usa who have no intention of being chaste. Peter had a mother-in-law. That means he had a wife since …wouldn’t texts tell us he was a widower otherwise. Celibacy is becoming an attraction to gays, as is the vestments, candles…the aesthetics of it all. If we had a manly Pope who was severe on this topic, it would be different but we have Francis…a protean figure who thinks Judas is in heaven, life sentences are death penalties and his airplanes fuel doesn’t hurt the air but our air conditioners do. Since a manly Pope is not likely in the near future, all new clergy should have wives and families..actual wives..female wives. We have to stipulate that latter detail.

    • Nonsense. Wonder what your excuse would be for the behavior of these protestants: Stop Baptist Predators, as only one example, or the epidemic of sexual abuse occurring in public schools: Sexual Abuse by Teachers is on the Rise, since you can’t blame any of those crimes on the discipline of celibacy. Stop making excuses for the sinful, criminal behavior of intrinsically disordered sexual deviants masquerading as Priests and stop insulting all of those who are faithful to their vows/promises of chastity/celibacy.

      • Show us where I excused them or insulted in place celibates. Religious orders will always vow chastity…it’s intrinsic to their life. Diocesan priests do not vow celibacy…they promise celibacy which is not intrinsic and they do not promise poverty.
        You are then going to continue to enlist gays til Elijah arrives unless you get a super watchful and admin loving Pope….which you have never seen. Gays sin against chastity but also against nature as Romans one shows….two deficits not one.

    • Peter had a wife when Jesus called him as probably did the others but chastity then became their lives. Yes, we need good men in the priesthood. True believers! Pray to rid us of the devils activity in our lives and get rid of the liberal unbelieving men!!!

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Canon212 Update: Creepy Cocco is Right. It’s Time for Some Real Punishment – The Stumbling Block

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.