NEW YORK – A San Antonio priest who recently called Pope Francis a “usurper” has had his faculties for public ministry removed by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, who said the decision was made to prevent “further confusion and grave scandal.”

García-Siller not only stripped the priest, Father John Mary Foster of faculties for public ministry, but he also withdrew the status of the apostolate that Foster founded in 2010, Mission of Divine Mercy, as an official apostolate of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

In a March 15 letter on the decision, García-Siller explained that Foster posted three alleged prophetic messages on the Mission of the Divine Mercy Website, on February 28 and 29, and March 13, respectively, that each contained false teachings. After refusing to take down these messages, Foster then posted another message where he explains why the messages were posted without García-Siller’s approval.

In the 17-page message, titled “We Must Obey God,” Foster repeatedly calls Pope Francis a “usurper,” and claims three justifications for the messages: Because they are coming from God, because the Church is facing an “extreme crisis,” and because by publishing the messages they are obeying God.

The message’s conclusion states: “Normally, obeying God includes obeying the authorities of the Church. But we are living in an unprecedented crisis. God is telling us that the Throne of Peter is occupied by a usurper, and we should not submit to him nor those who are carrying out his unjust designs.”

“We Must Obey God” was the final straw that led García-Siller to his decision, as its passages are cited throughout his decrees on the matter. In his letter, García-Siller said he hopes Foster will work with him to “repair” the damage that has been caused by his messages.

“Conscious of my duty to exercise governance over the ministries of the archdiocese and prudently lead the Christian faithful of the Archdiocese, I cannot allow any further confusion and grave scandal to descend upon the faithful of God and so I have removed Reverend Foster’s faculties for public ministry in the Archdiocese of San Antonio,” García-Siller said. “I pray that Reverend Foster will work with me to repair the damage that has been caused and find a path forward for his ministry.”

Reached by Crux via email, Emily Jebbia, the mission’s director of communications and development, said the mission is currently preparing a response to García-Siller’s decree that will be posted in the next day or two. She also said Foster will continue to say Mass in defiance of the decree.

“Father John Mary is continuing to say Mass, not in defiance of the Archbishop’s decree, but in obedience to what he believes God is asking of him and of this community,” Jebbia said.

Located in Canyon Lake, Texas, the Mission of Divine Mercy has offered retreats and sacramental ministry on its large campus. It was granted status as an approved Catholic apostolate of the Archdiocese of San Antonio in 2010 by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, who previously led the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Until now, it has had continued support from García-Siller, as well.

Foster leads the mission alongside his sister, cousin, nephew, and a non-family member. In all, the mission has six consecrated members and one other in formation, according to Jebbia. In his letter, García-Siller noted that “[Foster] had hoped the apostolate would grow and the number of members would increase, this has not occurred.”

The archdiocese’s decisions regarding Foster and the Mission of Divine Mercy were made across three separate decrees, each signed by both García-Siller and Auxiliary Bishop Gary Janak. Related to Foster, one decree removes his function as director of the suppressed mission, and his role as parochial vicar of the parish on the mission’s property. It also appoints Foster a time of spiritual retreat of six months.

The other decree related to Foster prohibits him from any public ministry at the mission property. If that order is violated, the decree warns that he won’t be allowed to publicly minister across the archdiocese.

“I WARN the Reverend FOSTER that if he exercises any restricted ministry I may PROHIBIT him from exercising any public ministry in the Archdiocese of San Antonio,” the decree states.

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