Ochoa added that 10 months ago, while visiting the Vatican, he had noticed the frailty of Benedict. Ochoa said the Pope had mentioned retiring was up for consideration in the past.
In addition to commenting on the future of the El Paso diocese and a new Pope, Ochoa told ABC-7 he could not discuss his pending lawsuit involving the Rev. Michael Rodriguez.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Jan. 2012, alleges that Rodriguez was funneling church money to personal accounts.
In the lawsuit, Ochoa alleges that Rodriguez solicited donations to "construct a new grotto, to renovate the exterior and interior of the church, to buy new church bells, and to repair and renovate the kitchen and garage of the parish hall." The document states Rodriguez broke church policy when he didn't deposit the donations in the right church account, and instead put the money in another church account not usually audited by the Diocese. He then transferred the money to personal accounts he opened at Government Employees Credit Union ("GECU"), the lawsuit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, Rodriguez deposited the money in bank accounts he kept secret -- and the money, in the event of his death, would go to his mother.The money in those accounts ballooned to more than a $250,000, according to the suit.
The lawsuit also implicates the priest's brother, David Rodriguez, in the alleged scheme. Ochoa alleges Rodriguez, through his brother, on two occasions, wrote a $20,000 check to construction companies. The checks allegedly came from the church account with the church donations.
Rodriguez would then, through his brother, David, ask the construction companies to write him back a check of the same amount, according to the lawsuit. No construction work was ever performed by the companies, the lawsuit alleges.
"I never asked a construction company. Now, I did work for a construction company and there were times when i had taken envolopes from father to (them), but that's all. I did not ask anyone to write any checks. That's not true," said David Rodriguez, Fr. Rodriguez's brother, in Jan. 2012.
The Diocese recovered all but $27,000 of the money
Father Rodriguez was very outspoken during the city's domestic partner benefits debate. He has publicly condemned what he called the gay lifestyle.
Ochoa transferred Father Rodriguez to Presidio, Texas for violating church policy.