Casa Jesus, a now-defunct Chicago seminary for Latin Americans, was founded under the late Cdl. Joseph Bernardin to recruit gay seminarians.
Father John Lavers, who headed a top-level investigation at Holy Apostles Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut in 2012, confirmed with Church Militant that Bernardin led the vanguard in recruiting and funneling homosexuals from Latin America to seminaries in Chicago, some who were farmed out to other U.S. seminaries or who went on to be ordained priests for the Chicago archdiocese.
Originally a convent for nuns located right next to Holy Name Cathedral, it was turned into a formation house in 1987 under Bernardin specifically to house Latin American seminarians.
A Rampant Homosexual Subculture
After 28 years in operation, Casa Jesus was quietly shut down by Cdl. Blase Cupich in 2016 following multiple homosexual scandals, with three seminarians expelled after being caught going to a gay bar, and the rector himself, Octavio Munoz, arrested for male child porn on his laptop.
“When I was at Casa Jesus, I used to go to gay bars, bring my friends. They didn’t say anything,” said former seminarian Luis Stalin to NBC Chicago. Stalin said the rule for celibacy was often ignored.
Another Casa Jesus graduate, Fr. Diego Berrio, was arrested just this week for engaging in gay sex in public view in Miami, Florida. Berrio is a canon lawyer and served on the marriage tribunal for the Chicago archdiocese, and is pastor of San Juan Diego Mission in Arlington Heights — a parish linked to another Latin American priest busted for child porn in 2015.
The man arrested with Berrio, Fr. Edwin Giraldo Cortez, is an extern priest from Colombia assigned to St. Aloysius Parish in Chicago.
Church Militant spoke with a priest who was a former seminarian at Casa Jesus in the early 2000s alongside Berrio, who confirmed that Berrio’s homosexuality was an open secret at the time.
“The rector knew. Everybody knew,” said the priest, who asked to remain anonymous out of concerns for retribution. At the time, then-Father Robert Casey (just named an auxiliary bishop for Chicago in July) was rector of Casa Jesus, which he led from 1998–2003.
“He mingled with the bad people,” the priest said of Berrio. “Father [Marco] Mercado was a good friend of his, a very good friend of his.”
Mercado also came to Chicago via Casa Jesus, and was later suspended from ministry for homosexual misconduct. Cardinal Cupich removed him as pastor at Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines in 2015 for an “inappropriate relationship with an adult man.” Mercado eventually relocated to the San Antonio, Texas diocese under Abp. Gustavo Garcia-Siller (auxiliary bishop in Chicago before going to Texas).
From Church Militant