Parishioners Filing Lawsuit Against Tyler Catholic Bishop

We brought you the story Wednesday about some Catholics from Paris, Texas who are fighting the transfer of their priest. They say Father Alphonse Anthony is being reassigned because of a disagreement with the bishop of the Tyler Diocese, Bishop Alvaro Corrada. Now, some parishioners are filing a lawsuit against Corrada for defamation.

Supporters prayed, while Father Anthony and several lay leaders met with Bishop Alvaro Corrada Wednesday, hoping the bishop would change his mind about transferring Father Anthony away from Paris. There would be no resolution.

Bishop Corrada: "In the middle of the meeting, Father Alphonse got up with the other two, stood up, walked out, and served me with a suit from a group of parishioners."

The lawsuit claims Bishop Corrada defamed them, both in correspondence and last Friday's Tyler Morning Telegraph. Corrada said some might have "prejudices" toward a spanish language mass and hispanics.

Laity and Father Alphonse have opposed a mass in Spanish, claiming it divides their congregation.

Corrada: "People have the right to hear the mass in their own language."

Parishioners think the transfer is retaliation for the disagreement. But Corrada says not so and believes some protesters yesterday were pawns at the moment a legal game began.

Corrada: "Probably the majority of them didn't know that they were being used for staging that type of situation."

Staging a meeting with him, Corrada claims, with the intent of serving papers if he didn't stop the transfer. Robert Smith, representing laity, said the suit  being served only after the meeting, made it clear Corrada would not change his mind.

Father Alphonse hasn't changed his mind that he will not accept the transfer to Trinity County.

Corrada: "My hope is that, as priest, he obeys me because I'm his bishop, he promised obedience, and the transfer after seven years is a reasonable transfer."

If Father Anthony continues to hold out, he could be forced from the ministry.