THE INVALIDITY OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL CENSURE AGAINST PADRE ANTONIO JOSE MARTINEZ
A Presentation for the New Mexico Historical Society
On the Occasion of the 300th Anniversary of the
Founding of Albuquerque
April 22, 2006
Rev. Juan Romero
Happy birthday Albuquerque! In the early1940s, at the dawn of my consciousness, our family lived here for a while. We came from Taos to this city’s lower elevation for mom’s health, but then we moved to Los Angeles in 1943 for dad’s job with Lockheed Aircraft. From family members and from a large glass-encased poster at the edge of the Taos Plaza, I first learned about Padre Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos. In mid July of this year, ten days before the anniversary of his death in 1867, Padre Martinez will be commemorated with a life-sized bronze likeness to be placed in the center of the Taos Plaza. It will reprise what his peers in the New Mexico Territorial Legislature wrote on his tombstone: “La Honra de Su Paíz-The Honor of His Homeland.”
Tradition preserved in the personal papers of his youngest brother Pascual Martinez claims that Padre Martinez died repeating the Our Father. The operative words in this context would be “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and the mutuality of forgiveness prayed for would be Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy.
The 1877 Valdez biography records the early life of Padre Martinez with several letters and documents, but says very little about his life after the arrival of Bishop Lamy. The Pascual Martinez papers record that Padre José Lucero, his former student, good friend and pastor of the neighboring Arroyo Hondo parish attended Martinez upon his deathbed. It is the common teaching of theologians that a person with good dispositions of love of God and sorrow for sin, and who receives the Church’s Last Rites–consisting of the sacraments of Penance, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion– upon death, goes directly to heavenly glory. A month before he died, Padre Martinez revised his Last Will and Testament that gives us an insight into his dispositions.
I declare that during the forty-two years
of my spiritual administration in several parts of this Territory of New Mexico, and particularly in this County of Taos, I have complied with my ecclesiastical ministry with fidelity and good faith to the best of my knowledge that I could….My body shall descend tranquil to the silent grave, and my soul shall appear and go up to the Divine Tribunal with plain satisfaction that I have done all that I could to illuminate the minds of my fellow citizens causing them their temporal good, and above all, their spiritual benefit….My conscience is quiet and happy, and God knows this to be true. If anyone of my fellow citizens and neighbors complains that I have injured them, it may have been through a mental error, but not with the intention of my heart, as human creatures are weak… Nevertheless, I have never had any intention of injuring anyone, and by nature, I have been inclined to do good, so help me God.
Bishop Zubiría of Durango attested to the high moral character of Padre Martinez. He visited Taos three times in his tenure of the far-flung diocese of Durango that included New Mexico as it was then constituted: Colorado, Arizona, Utah and parts of Texas and Wyoming. When the bishop visited in 1833, he acceded to Padre Martinez request to begin a pre-seminary to prepare young men for further study in Durango. Padre Martinez had begun an elementary school in 1826, and his seminary would morph into a law school after the American occupation in 1846.
In 1840, Padre Martinez had spent a year on sabbatical in Durango, the see of the Archdiocese at the time (and for eleven more years to come). He caught up with course work since, because of illness, he had left seminary after ordination in 1822 but before he finished some theology courses. This became an impediment for promotion to a “permanent” pastorate, although since 1826 he had been “interim” pastor of the Taos Church (San Geronimo at the Pueblo and its main chapel Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe at the Plaza). After his year, he was formally appointed CURA DE TAOS, the title for which he has been known in history.
When the Bishop Zubiría visited again, for the third time, in 1845, he ratified Martinez’ appointment as an permanent pastor. “He not only approved the records of Padre Martinez, but even thanked him for his skill and energy in performing his duties as minister. As a matter of recognition, he granted Padre Martinez additional privileges for his well deserved merits.” Appointing him as “Vicar and Ecclesiastical Judge” of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish “and its districts” of the northern region, Bishop Zubiría also gave Padre Martinez the “special faculty and power to absolve…heretics and also to rehabilitate or to suspend, as he may deem proper and according to his conscience, any priest who may deserve to be rehabilitated or suspended.” These special faculties were valid for a period of five years ending September 18, 1850.
Although he had more than his share of political enemies, Charles Bent chief among them because of disagreements about land use and ownership, Padre Martinez was nevertheless held in very high regard by the majority of the people of Taos and all of New Mexico. By contrast, Willa Cather, in her Pulitzer Prize winning novel––“the best novel ever about New Mexico”—spoke for many of the Padre’s enemies when she described the Padre as an ogre writhing in hell. She may have been inspired to imagine Martinez there because of the inimical relation between Padre Martinez and the hero of the novel, a fictional and glorified version of Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy.
In the fall of 1856, almost a decade before Martinez died, Lamy censured the Padre with Suspension whose vality Padre Martínez—ever the Canonist—legally challenged. The following year, in the spring of 185, Bishop Lamy excommunicated Padre Martínez “with all of the required formalities…servatis servandi.” Here is how one author described the dramatic scene of the excommunication:
Machebeuf appeared in the Taos church [of
Our Lady of Guadalupe] to celebrate High Mass and to pronounce the excommunication. Tension was almost tangible. The church was filled, and the people stood outside to hear the ceremony and to watch each other, and to see
who had guns. When time came for the
sermon, Mauchebuf explained the meaning of excommunication of which most people had no understanding except that it was the Church’s ultimate discipline; and then he read the instrument itself to a hushed congregation and finished the Mass…There was no disturbance, though everyone felt the precarious atmosphere…
The “instrument” of excommunication, part of “all the required formalities,” was likely from the Roman Pontifical containing ceremonies used by a Bishop in the nineteenth century:
Since I, [Name of Bishop], having legitimately warned [him] for the first, second, third and fourth times of the malice for which he is being convicted for whatever he has done or not done, and since he has shown contempt for fulfilling my command to renounce his contumacy, and since he is remaining stubborn [exigente] in his rebelliousness, I therefore excommunicate him with these written words: By the authority of the omnipotent God Father, and the Son and Holy Spirit, and by the authority of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints, I denounce him. He is to be avoided [vitandus] for as long a time as it may take until he will have fulfilled what is mandated, in order that his spirit may be saved on the day of judgment.
Joseph P. Mauchebeuf, Vicar General for Bishop Lamy and later first bishop of Denver, is the one who pronounced the excommunication, according to Howlett, author of Mauchebeuf’s biography. A couple of years later on July 1, 1860, Bishop Lamy himself came to Our Lady of Guadalupe parish to administer the sacrament of Confirmation to over 500
adults and children of the Jurisdiction of Taos. He put this note in the book of Baptism records of the parish:
Since our last visit [to the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe] in August of 1855 until the present date, various pastors have succeeded in this Jurisdiction whom we had to move for grave and critical circumstances….It is our painful obligation to observe here that at the beginning of the year 1857, we had to punish with suspension Sñr. Cura Martinez for his grave and scandalous faults and for his publications against order and the discipline of the church. Regretfully, however, he did not pay attention to the censures, and before long, he began to say Mass, administer the sacraments, and to publish things even more scandalous. We then saw ourselves obliged to excommunicate him, servatis servandis, with all of the required formalities. Since that time, this unfaithful [infeliz] priest has done all in his power, and in a most diabolical manner, to provoke a schism in public as well as in private, pretending to say Mass, administer the sacraments, and thus
loosing a great number of souls. However, in spite of this schism, the major part of the faithful remain on the side of order and of legitimate authority, as this book of entries proves…Thus it is that while some lose faith, because they have forsaken good works, others are strengthened in
procuring the good of souls and the glory of God.
Only God is judge of ultimate destiny. However, the passage of time and critical history helps to evaluate a person’s rightful place in the earthly hall of merits and accomplishments. Antonio José Martinez was a liminal man of both the church and of the nation. His life was at the threshold of three distinct eras that spanned the history of New Mexico, under Spain (two and a quarter centuries), under Mexico (twenty-five years), and under the United States since 1846. As an actor and positive contributor to each distinct epoch, he was on the threshold of each, and helped his people of New Mexico segue one to another, sometimes with pain and/or struggle. He was a churchman, rancher, educator, journalist, printer, publisher, lawyer and politician who lived in a time of great transition. He was a man of the people, and one of the great figures of New Mexican history. Although there were shadows in his life, the light emanating from him far outshone any darkness. Indeed, he was a luminary of this time, a renaissance man only now coming to be better and more widely appreciated.
His ecclesiastical superiors held Antonio José Martinez in very high regard as a seminarian in Durango. He excelled in his studies, especially in philosophy and canon law. Bishop Castañiza who ordained Martinez favored him, and even considered appointing him as a first assignment to La Parroquia, the principal parish in Santa Fe, precursor to the Cathedral. Bishop Zubiría who succeeded Bishop Castañiza also recognized the talents of the priest of Taos and showed his appreciation of him on all three of his visits to Taos: in 1833, in 1845, and in 1850 on the eve of the great transition.
On his third and last visit in 1850, barely a year before Bishop Lamy arrived in Santa Fe, Bishop Zubiría gave Padre Martinez special faculties that again showed his complete confidence in the Priest of Taos. Among the faculties, ironically, was to absolve penitents from suspension and excommunication.
The mid 1840s encompassed the “transcendent epoch” that brought tumultuous changes to New Mexico. The engine was Manifest Destiny, the U.S.-MEXICAN WAR was the powerful train that came into New Mexico in 1846. Its caboose was the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and its railroad tracks continue to lead forward defining and shaping our own place and time. Territories that had belonged to Spain since 1598, and then to Mexico since1821, now became territories of the United States of America. The political change affected church organizational structure. By 1850, New Mexico was taken from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Durango in Mexico and became an Apostolic Prefecture under the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri in the United States until Santa Fe became its own Diocese and later Archdiocese.
The historic tension between France and Spain was a backdrop for the cultural clash that was to distance the new Vicar Apostolic Jean Baptiste Lamy from New Mexico’s native clergy that Padre Martinez helped so much to develop. The 1850 Council of Baltimore decided to bring the new US territory under American ecclesiastical sway. They nominated French missionary J. B. Lamy as first Vicar Apostolic of Santa Fe who was a French-born missionary serving as a parish priest in the diocese of Cincinnati, Ohio. Arriving in New Mexico in July of 1851, he was destined to become the bishop of the new Santa Fe diocese. His territory of New Mexico included what is now the state of New Mexico in addition to all of Arizona and Colorado and parts of Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah.
The initial encounters between Bishop Lamy and Padre Martinez were cordial, even warm and gracious. Lamy seemed to genuinely appreciate the canonical acumen of Padre Martinez. However, the pride and stubbornness of each soon began to show. The conflict between them was, at its core, a conflict of culture more than of theology or morality. The tension was expressed around issues concerning transition of power and authority.
One of the principal points of conflict between Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy was Lamy’s reinstitution of the practice of tithing. In the European model of Church-State union, the government was responsible for maintaining the churches and paying salary to the clergy. As early as 1829, eight years into the Mexican period, Padre Martinez already was objecting to the practice. He stated it was a burden too heavy for poor people, and advocated for a change in policy. By 1833, he was a member of the New Mexican legislature and—with the approbation of Bishop Zubiría—successfully advocated for a change in the law that ultimately eliminated government-sponsored tithing. Martinez promoted free will offerings in church.
Bishop Lamy’s Pastoral Letter that initiated the renewed policy on tithing was written in December 1852, but it was not printed nor promulgated until early 1853. When Bishop Lamy re-instituted tithing under pain of denial of Christian burial,  it seemed excessively harsh to Padre Martinez who publicly denounced it in the press, the Santa Fe Gaceta, as “hucksterism” and “simony.” The Pastoral ran counter to serious objections by several of the local clergy, and did not begin to be fully implemented until 1854. The text of the Pastoral was a brief document of three pages with seven points dealing with routine liturgical and catechetical concerns. The fifth and sixth seriously offending points tried to launch a fund raising campaign redounding to the economic hardship of clergy and faithful. Those faithful who did not comply were deprived from church burial. In addition, the renewed system of tithing reduced the income of the priests by about a third.
Bishop Lamy in 1856 suspended Padre Martinez from celebrating Mass, preaching, and hearing Confessions because of his public scandalous writings that attacked him in the public press. The Padre responded with a legalistic letter outlining why the suspension was invalid, because it lacked three canonical warnings. Padre Martinez was convinced of the invalidity of the suspension from his study of Canon Law, in which he was a recognized expert, and from the church law books available to him. However, Bishop Lamy, admittedly not all well versed in Canon Law, may have been operating out of an understanding of church law based on different text. There was a canon that permitted the legitimate suspension of a priest “on the basis of an informed awareness” Jesuit canonist Ladislas Orsay brought this [ex consciencia informata] to the attention of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J. as a possible way Bishop Lamy wanted to deal with Padre Martinez in order to avoid even greater public scandal since the Padre was so widely respected by the people, it is supposed. This was intended to give a bishop maximum latitude in censuring a priest whose circumstances of suspension the bishop might not want to make public for whatever reason.
Almost a thousand people, including several Washington politicians, signed a letter complaining against Bishop Lamy and his Vicar Machebeuf. Padre José Miguel Gallegos—after a serious tiff with Vicar J. P. Machebeuf, left active ministry and became a politician, the first Hispanic Congressman in the U.S.—drafted the letter and sent it to the Holy Father. Although Gallegos orchestrated the letter of complaint to Pope Pius IX against Bishop Lamy and Vicar Machebeuf, these hierarchs may have held Padre Martinez responsible for having formed and influenced the former priest and pesky Congressman Gallegos. I believe the embarrassment of Bishop Lamy and Vicar Machebeuf before the Holy See was one of the main events that triggered Martinez’ extreme disfavor with Bishop Lamy.
Since 1852, people complained to Bishop that Vicar General Macebeuf was breaking the seal of Confession. The Bishop told the people that he would take care of it, but did nothing. They again complained, this time with the suggestion they would go to higher authority. After being effectively dismissed, Señor Tomás Baca—with at least the passive consent of Padre Gallegos–helped to garner over 900 signatures of people complaining about Machebeuf’s behavior.
Meanwhile, Bishop Lamy suggested to his Vicar General Joseph Prospectus Macebeuf that he consult with Padre Martinez about the canonical dimensions of the allegation of direct violation of the seal of Confession. Martinez was at first disposed to believe that Machebeuf was guilty, but may have been pleased to be consulted in the affair. After hearing Machebeuf’s version of what happened, Padre Martinez wrote to Bishop Lamy that he “was satisfied” with Machebeuf’s explanation. Martinez asserted in his letter to Lamy that Machebeuf was most likely carried away with overzealous preaching, but was not actually guilty of “direct violation” of the Seal of Confession. Ironically, this letter would be used get Machebeuf off the proverbially papal hook when the matter once again surfaced before Roman authorities in the summer of 1856.
[Another Topic: Padre Gallegos]
binding. (My emphasis) What’s to re-examine? It was an invalid act of excommunication. There’s no such thing as rescinding an invalid act. It is per se invalid …You can’t rescind an invalid act. …There is no evidence of any trial by peers, as was required by the Canon Law at the time, and there was no evidence of allowing Martinez to defend himself….He [Lamy] could very well not have been [aware of the procedure]. I think it would be very important [to publicly declare the excommunication invalid]….I’d think that it’s really important to rehabilitate him.…The much good that he did do should be honored….The importance of the rehabilitation of Padre Martinez is not for the person per se, but for what he symbolized.
Both baptism and funeral books of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Taos mention the excommunication. Servite priest Father Albert Gallegos, New
Mexico native and PADRES pioneer, authored a chapter on the canonical dimensions of the excommunication in Ray John Aragon’s book Lamy and Martinez. In his book But Time and Chance [Sunstone Press], Fray Angelico Chavez challenges the notion that there was any real excommunication of Padre Martinez, much less schism. Anyone
excommunicated as a vitandus, i.e., one to be avoided or shunned, is supposed to have his name published in the Roman publication the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Before the publication of that journal, the names of vitandi—those TO BE AVOIDED—would have been inscribed at the Vatican in the Second Section of the tomes in the library of the Secretariat of State. I did a thorough search of all Martinez names in the 19th
century, and found several. However, during my research at the beginning of the Jubilee Year 2000, I found no mention of any excommunication of Padre A.J. Martinez of Taos in any of the three Vatican Archives: 1) the archives of the Secretariat of State, 2) Secretariat of State-Segunda Seccione (a confidential section reserved for records of high profile or political cases), and 3) the Archives of the Propagation of the Faith, now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, that had jurisdiction over the United States during its missionary phase after Independence from England until the end of the nineteenth century.
Notification of a formal excommunication should have certainly been recorded in Rome, and most certainly in the archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. However, there is no record in either place, and this means that if there were any kind of an excommunication, it had to have been a purely local affair that was kept private for pastoral reasons, and not promulgated.
In an unprecedented moment on March 12, 2000, the First Sunday of Lent of the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II knelt in St. Peter’s Basilica, and said, “We humbly ask forgiveness.” The Holy Father’s words and gestures were “the most sweeping papal apology ever, repenting for the errors of his church over the last 2,000 years.” In the name of the Church, he was asking forgiveness from God for key lapses which she has committed over the past two millennia. While the Holy Father was leading the Catholic world in a communal examination of our collective historical conscience, he acknowledged that church followers had “violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions.” (My emphasis)
John Paul II continued, “The church of today and of always feels obligated to purify the memory of those sad episodes of every sentiment of rancor or rivalry. (My emphasis) The jubilee becomes in this way for every occasion an opportunity for a profound conversion to the Gospel. From the acceptance of divine forgiveness is born the duty to forgive one’s brothers and seek reciprocal reconciliation.”
Vatican theologians explained the Pope’s apology for past sins of the church by saying that although the responsibility for sin does not pass from one generation of people to the next, “the wounds created by sin do often linger and may require judgment and repentance back through history.” (My emhphasis)
Since he announced the Jubilee Year in his 1994 apostolic letter written to the Catholic world On Reconciliation, John Paul followed up that
important act of reconciliation with even more dramatic gestures, e.g., the posthumous nullification of the sixteenth century excommunication of the scientist Gallileo. More recently, there was a statement of reconciliation with pioneer Protestant John Hus.
In sympathetic ceremonies held in cathedrals throughout the Catholic world, bishops made similar acts of repentance on March 12, 2000 and specified them according to their own local histories. In Santa Fe, Archbishop Michael Shean asked forgiveness for sins against the American Indian, women, and black peoples. However, there was no
specific apology for the systematic reduction of the native clergy soon after the American occupation in the mid nineteenth century. Several were suspended from functioning in their ministry. Padre Martinez, who in spite of his brilliance and long legacy of priestly service to his people, ended his life alienated from his bishop and excommunicated from the church. The church is holy, but is stained by the
sins of its children, and requires “consant purification.” The “new evangelization” for which the Pope has been calling in this third millennium can take place only after there be a church-wide “purification of memory.” “One of the characteristic elements of the great jubilee is purification of memory,” [Emphasis mine] stated Pope John Paul II. “…in this year of mercy, the church, strengthened by the holiness that she receives from her Lord, kneels before God and begs for forgiveness for past and present sins of her sons….We forgive and we ask forgiveness!….”
Lynn Bridgers wrote in DEATH’S DECEIVER, The Life of Joseph P. Machebeuf [1997 University of New Mexico Press – Albuquerque, pp. 268] wrote the following about the historical relationship between the French and Spanish that I believe is accurate and interesting background for the relationship between Martinez and Lamy:
A legacy of mutual distrust between the Spanish and the French served as the rocky river bed over which many Anglo and Hispanic conflicts flowed. With the arrival of Lamy and Machebeuf, the French seemed to have accomplished ecclesiastically what they were unable to do militarily, moving their sphere of influence from the French lands of the Louisiana Purchase into traditionally Spanish-dominated New Mexico….Machebeuf’s personal views of Hispanic culture reflect a long complex process of maturation. His early work was sometimes darkened by ignorance and misconceptions about New Mexico’s Hispanic Catholicism, but by the end of his life he had grown far beyond mere tolerance, to a deep love and respect for the Spanish-speaking people of the American Southwest.
On February 3, 1869, a year and a half after the death of Padre Martinez, Bishop Lamy reported on progress of vocations to his mentor Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati. Lamy mentions a “schism” in Taos, but makes no mention of any excommunication that is supposed to have taken place the Sunday after Easter in 1858 or at any other time. In an obiter dictum, Lamy mentions “a Schism” that Padre Martinez “made” (sic) in 1860. Lamy tells Purcell of the “Mission Jesuit
priest Father Gaspari was giving in Taos where “the unfortunate Martinez made a Schism that Lasted seven years [1860-1867] until the death of this said poor priest…. Most of the people, except some of his nearest relatives are coming back to obedience, and the mission which is producing a great change which leaves very few…” However, Lamy does not refer to any excommunication.
Was an excommunication actually made? Was the prior suspension “secret,” i.e., ex consciencia informata, as some opine? Father Tom Steele, S.J. refers to Jesuit canonist Ladislaus Orsay in reference to the ecclesiastical penalty of “suspension from divine things” (celebrating Mass, preaching, hearing confessions). Under certain circumstances, a bishop—without making it public—could invoke suspension of official license or faculties (permission) for a priest to act publicly in his diocese. There would have to be good reason for a bishop to not make a suspension public, and it would need to be “from an informed conscience” and for some greater good. Nevertheless, it remains curious that Bishop Lamy did not ever publicly mention an excommunication of Padre Martinez to episcopal peers or to family, to whom he often wrote about those pesky native New Mexican priests. Lamy does not mention the phrase about excommunication that he twice wrote in the parish books (Funerals and Baptism) of the Taos church: “…excommunication [of the unfortunate (infelíz) priest]…with all the required formalities…servatis servandis.“
Martinez made enemies with Charles Bent and his partners when he tangled with
them about land grant issues.
Note in Baptismal Register of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos for July 1,
1860, p. 143. My translation.
Horgan, Lamy of Santa Fe, Faraar, Strauss, Giroux, NT, c. 1975, pp.
243-44. Original source, Howlett
(through Father Ussell), Life of Bishop J.P. Macebeuf, First Bishop
of Denver. The dramatic scene of excommunication
was first described in Memories, the
journal of Father Gabriel Ussel who was the third successor of Padre Martinez
as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Taos, and a purported eyewitness
of the event. Howlett quoted Ussel as one of his sources for the
Machebuf biography, and others have followed suit: Twitchell, Leading
Facts of New Mexico History;
Romero, Reluctant Dawn, p. 1; Father
Tom Steele, S.J. in “View from the Rectory” in New Perspectives From Taos published by Millicent Rogers Museum, p.
99 n.3; Lynn Bridgers (embellished the account of the excommunication in her
biography of Bishop Machebeuf) in her first footnote Death’s Deceiver, 1997 University of New Mexico Press, refers to
Father Gabriel Ussel’s journal Memories. He was the French priest who was the third
the succeed Padre Martinez at Guadalupe Church in Taos within three years.
 Contumacy is
defined as flagrant disobedience or rebelliousness, or persistent refusal to
obey without good reason.
From the Roman
Pontifical used in the 19th Century, Ordo Excommunicandi et Absolvendi, The Rite of Excommunicating and
Absolving, edited by order of Benedict XIV and Leo XIII. It was made available to me through the
courtesy of Pat Lyons, Librarian, St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California.
 My translation
of marginal note in Baptismal Register
of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos for July 1, “Fifth Sunday After
Pentecost,” 1860, p. 143. Father Gabriel Ussel was the pastor of Taos when
Bishop Lamy came to celebrate the sung Pontifical Mass for the
Confirmands. He had not visited the
parish since 1855, five years prior when Padre Martnez was still in
charge. On this visit, the bishop
confirmed over 500 adults and children who were part of the jurisdiction of
Taos. Spanish text is in appendix.
Letter of 1852-53.
 Letter of
Padre Martinez to Bishop Lamy, printed in the Gaceta of Santa Fe.
 The two most offensive provisions of the 1852 Christmas
Pastoral that Padre Martinez cited:
faithful of this territory… will know that we have taken away from the priests
every faculty to administer the sacraments and give church burial to the heads
of families that refuse to faithfully hand over the tithes that are their
February 1, 1854, triple the parish assessment will be charged for the
administration of the sacraments of baptism, matrimony and of church burial
from those faithful who belong to families that do not fulfill the fifth
Precept of the Church [to contribute to the support of the Church].”
 Archives of
the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Letter of Padre Martinez writing from Taos to
Bishop Lamy in Santa Fe, Ocober 24, 1857. This letter succeeds Padre Martinez’
prior missive sent to the bishop the previous year, November 12 1856. It again outlines the principal grievances,
and asserts Padre Martinez as “cura
proprio,” i.e. as an irremovable pastor” who is “free of suspension.” The various grievances or “excesses of the
bishop” are presented. They include the
1851-1854 Pastoral Letter;
suspension and take-over of Padre Gallegos’ Albuquerque house;
suspension of ex-vicar Padre Juan Felipe Ortiz of Santa Fe whose house and
property was divided (although ultimately reimbursed); and
Bishop’s alleged sale of church property—the Castrense or military chapel at
the edge of the Santa Fe chapel.
Padre Martinez, with some delusion, also made other
1) revocation of the Pastoral
Letter of January 14, 1854, because it is against the spiritual health of the
2) the admission that he,
Padre Martinez, is not really suspended for lack of the three warnings; and
3) the recognition that Padre
Martinez is still the priest in charge of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, i.e.
the cura proprio, since he is an “irremovable
4) that the Bishop remove
Father Damaso Taladrid, and send another assistant priest. When these demands are met, Padre Martinez
says he will consider retiring.
 Father Tom Steele, S.J., academic and premier New Mexico
historian, makes a case for suspensio ex
consciencia informata. Respected Jesuit theologian and canon lawyer ,
Ladislas Orsy, brought that to the attention of Father Steele as a
possibility. This would be a bishop’s
suspension of a priest that would prevent him from exercising his priestly
ministries. This woud not be done
because of anything in the external forum, but because of the bishop’s
“informed and aware consciousness” that the priest is involved in some
nefarious dealings that the bishop might not want to make the public in order
to “avoid scandal” in the church or for some other proportionate reason. According to this line of thought, Bishop
Lamy’s suspension might indeed have been valid.
However, it is difficult to uphold or deal with that in the external
forum of law. The (schismatic) Council
of Pistoia and the Counter-Reformation Council of Trent treated the notion of suspensio ex consciencia informata, but
it was not commonly used nor even recognized.
It may have been in some moral theology or canon law books, but not
those of Padre Martinez. The universal
body of canon laws binding the Catholic Church in the west was not,
surprisingly, formally codified until 1917, in the 20th
century. It should not be such a great
surprise, then, that Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy may have been dependent upon differing law texts.
Twenty years after the Second Vatican Council, in 1985, there was a major
revision of the Code of Canon Law that leaves no trace of ecclesistical censure
ex conscincia informata.
 Horgan, p. __.
 Gallegos used
his position as Democratic Congressman in Washington to orchestrate for Pope
Pius IX a letter of complaints against Bishop Lamy and Vicar Machebuf. In January of 1856, thirty-seven Legislators
of Territory of New Mexico signed the letter of complaints. In April 1856, they
sent it to the Holy Father from Washington, D.C. with a cover letter signed by
 “This pastoral
seems to have provoked all this opposition…started by some priests of bad
fame…and who easily find followers among the ignorant and vicious people. The main author of these claims is a certain
Gallegos, parish priest at Albuquerque who was scandalously living with a woman
of bad reputation. Since he proved to be
incorrigible, he was interdicted by Mons. Lamy himself, and now is a parliament
member at Washington for the State of New Mexico. The same [incorrigiblity] is declared, more
or less, about the other priests who signed the claim against Mons. Lamy.”
 My emphasis,
but the phrase belongs to the secretary-archivist accurately paraphrasing
Machebeuf’s negative value-judgment.
The auditors of the Propagation of the Faith presented Father Machebeuf
with the documentation of allegations the Holy Father had received from
ex-Padre-turned-Congressman Gallegos writing from Washington, D.C. The cover letter and documentation was
accompanied by signatures of over nine hundred Catholic faithful (!) including
thirty-four legislators of New Mexico.
secretary-archivist’s summary of Father J. P. Machebeuf’s defense in Rome,
Letter #12 for year 1856-57 in Letters
and Documents of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
 Horgan, Lamy of Santa Fe, p. ___.
 Horgan, p.
229. The author of Lamy of Santa Fe continues, “and he has never failed in a show of personal respect [my emphasis] towards
the bishop…[but]…we are sure public opinion is against him.” The “public opinion” to which
Machebeuf referred referred to that of new comers who became enemies of the
controversial Padre. Padre Martinez was
Bishop Lamy’s most “formidable” adversary because he was the
“most intelligent and even least corrupt.” (Horgan, p. 219) Nevertheless, Padre Martinez continued to
remain greatly loved and exceedingly popular among the greatest number of native
 Ibid.p. 219.
 He was the
father of his legitimate daughter María de La Luz born c. 1819, and whose
mother died in childbirth. After Antonio
José went to the seminary in Durango, the young girl was given to the care of
her maternal grandparents. She herself
died at the tender age of 12. Two other
children merit special mention: Santiago Valdez (AKA Marquez/Martinez), author
of the 1877 biography of the priest, and Vicente Ferrer Romero who became a
pioneer Presbyterian evangelist.
 E. K. Francis,
“Padre Martinez: A New Mexican Myth,” New
Mexico Historical Review (Vol. XXXI, No. 4 – October 1956, p 289.
 He was also
the author of a biography of the Padre Sanchez, Memorias del Presbítero Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos, printed
 Interview with Max Cordova de Truchas, AMIGOS, Volumen XII,
Nivel III, #2 © 2001 Semos Unlimited, Inc., Santa Fe NM 87505. My translation
 I Cor.
 Cf. Newspaper ____ in Taos Research
Center, Nita Murphy. Archbishop Sanchez
asked canon lawyer Lucien Hendren to begin investigation of procedure. It seems that “Angelico Chavez advised the
Archbishop against that course of action, I do not know why.” (Msgr. Jerome Martinez in conversation with
Fr. Juan Romero, c. 2004.) In January
1993, on the occasion of the funeral of Father Mike O’Brien in Mora, Archbishop
Sanchez told me he was once again prepared to take up the cause. However, he was soon thereafter retired.
 Msgr. Jerome
Martinez made the statement on October 1, 2001 in Santa Fe without
qualifications to filmmaker Paul Espinosa of Espinosa Productions. Interview transcribed by Marisa Espinosa.
[jerome.doc] Monsignor Martinez stated that an ideal time to have done this
would have been during the Jubilee Year 2000. He also mentioned that Fray Angelico Chavez
advised Archbishop Sanchez against making a public statement as to the
invalidity of the excommunication.
Historical Archives, made available from Al Pulido.
 Ibid., p. 58
picture taken in 1903, Vicente F. Romero (Lic.), is seen as one of sixteen “Native Mexican Workers,” clergy and/or lay
evangelists for the Presbyterian Faith.
Others identified include Tomas Atencio (#9 – student of Chimayo/Dixon),
Rev. Gabino Rendón (#13 of Santa Fe), and Rev. José Yñes Perea (#15 of
Pajarito). Cf. Our Mexicans by the Rev. Robert M. Craig, NY, Board of Home
Missions of the Presbyterian Church, 1904, p. 102.]
Document of the Presbyterian Church, from Al Pulido.