Neighbors Believed Priest Was Married

By: Lisa Ferrari Email
By: Lisa Ferrari Email

January 15, 2007

The Louisa County catholic priest suspected of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from two churches denies he was living a double life as a father and husband in a neighboring county.

But could father Rodney Rodis, a catholic priest who took a vow of celibacy, also have taken a vow of marriage?

“I seem to recall him introducing his wife to me as his wife and so I had the impression they were married,” said Rodis’ Neighbor Erica Rogers.

And, in the three-and-a-half years Rogers has lived across the street from Rodis, she also has never had the impression he was a catholic priest. “Mostly I had seen him in business attire and in shorts, it was complete news to me he was a priest,” she said.

Rodis was indicted last week on embezzlement charges.

He admits he lives in a home on Watson Lane in Fredericksburg with a woman and three children, but has denied he is married.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond says they do believe Rodis stole from the church, but they have no reason to believe he is married.

“It’s scandalous if true, but I have never seen a document that indicated that a marriage had taken place,” said Attorney William Etherington, the lawyer for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

However a court document lists Rodis as living with a wife, but it is not clear from that document whether he is the father of the three girls who live in the home.

After the indictments surfaced, Richmond’s bishop suspended Rodis from practicing as a priest, but if proven Rodis is married, the pope could take further action.

“My understanding of the canons is that would constitute instant excommunication,” said Etherington.

However, excommunication may be the least of Rodis' problems if he is convicted of embezzlement; he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Rodis is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday.

The church says they hope this issue is resolved quickly and that the stolen money is recovered.

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