Christian teachings have long stressed the importance of forgiveness, but a conflict last year between a former parishioner and a priest at a Catholic church in Crystal Lake has ended in court instead of a confessional.
The dispute seems to have started in September 2006, when Angel Llavano, a former parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, left a voice mail message for Rev. Luis Alfredo Rios, an associate pastor, criticizing one of his homilies.
“I attended mass on Sunday and I have seen poor homilies, but yesterday broke all records,” Llavona said, according to a defamation lawsuit that Llavona filed Monday in McHenry County Circuit Court.
Rios responded by playing a recording of Llavona’s phone messages during a mass, then criticized him in front of the congregation, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit alleges that Rios told the congregation, “What should we do? Should we send him to hell or to another parish?”
Although priests and parishioners have tussled throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church, a legal case involving accusations made from the pulpit is highly unusual, said Allen Shoenberger, a law professor at Loyola University in Chicago.
“I’ve never heard of this happening,” Shoenberger said.