Supporters of ousted Virginia Beach priest plan rally

Posted at 12:08 AM, May 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-09 00:08:03-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Supporters of a priest who was let go from his position in the Richmond Diocese after more than 30 years are planning a rally for Saturday morning.

Fr. Leo Manalo can no longer practice as a priest in the area, but says the Bishop hasn't told him why. "I feel like Christ betrayed by his own loved ones," Fr. Manalo said. "It's painful. All my priesthood is gone. That's how I feel about these things."

His supporters would like answers and are holding a rally at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Virginia Beach. The Bishop will be there for a Confirmation service.

His departure follows years of "dissension and turmoil" at the San Lorenzo Spiritual Center, according to a spokesperson for the Richmond Diocese. He was the founder of the center, where many Filipino Catholics gather.

A spokesperson says the Bishop made the decision following "unacceptable conduct" during a mass, but didn't get more specific. Fr. Manalo thinks a lot of it has to do with how other priests and members of the community view him. "The analysis of many is that they are jealous. Jealous of me because I'm well known and loved by the community," he said.

Fr. Manalo can still work as a priest in a different area, but says this is his home. He wants his priesthood restored or at least answers as to why he was let go.