LOS ANGELES (LifeSiteNews) — The suspect arrested by Los Angeles Police has been charged with the murder of Bishop David O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after reportedly having confessed to investigators that he committed the crime.
Carlos Medina, 65, the husband of Bishop O’Connell’s housekeeper and himself a handyman, was charged Wednesday, Feb. 22, with one count of first-degree murder and with having used a firearm to commit the crime. The convictions could carry up to 35 years in prison.
A judge set a trial date for March 22 and set Medina’s bail at $2.3 million.
L.A. District Attorney George Gascón also announced Wednesday in a press conference that Medina admitted to having killed the bishop while claiming O’Connell owed him $20,000, a claim that investigators have said they dismissed as a credible motive behind the murder.
An early report by the Los Angeles Times, dated Sunday, Feb. 19, stated that deputies had “found O’Connell with a gunshot wound to his chest.” Similarly, the initial report of L.A. County Sheriff Robert G. Luna on Monday, Feb. 20, specified that the bishop had sustained “at least one gunshot wound to the upper body.” In contrast to these reports, the D.A. revealed at Wednesday’s press conference that O’Connell had been hit by “multiple shots,” with sources saying five.
According to the LA Times, “Neighbors said they heard no gunshots or unusual noise coming from the home until deputies and paramedics descended on the quiet neighborhood just before 1 p.m. Saturday.”
Sheriff Luna confirmed that a deacon of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was the first to find the bishop’s body after the bishop failed to appear at scheduled meetings last Saturday. The body is reported to have been found lying on the bed.
After Medina’s arrest on Monday, two firearms, including a .38 caliber handgun, were discovered at his home in Torrance. Investigators are looking into whether either of these were used in the murder. The motive of the murder has yet to be established.
On Dec. 12, 2022, the bishop had consecrated the state of California to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Holy Family Parish in Glendale. As a priest in the L.A. archdiocese, O’Connell was known for making door-to-door house visits within the territory of his parish, a custom of the Irish clergy at the time.
According to Catholics of the archdiocese, O’Connell would bring with him images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and ask families to place them in their homes. Michael Forbes, a longtime Catholic in the archdiocese, told LifeSiteNews that the bishop was a strong supporter of initiatives such as the rosary group that Forbes started at Holy Family Parish to combat the moral corruption of Hollywood and the surrounding area.
O’Connell also took part with several other California bishops in L.A.’s pro-life rally this past Jan. 21, the first gathering of its kind since the overturning of Roe v. Wade last June. The bishop is also known to have prayed in person at L.A.’s Planned Parenthood abortion centers.
On the other hand, O’Connell was chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). For over a decade, the CCHD has been called out for issuing millions of dollars in grants to groups that advocate directly for abortion and other practices contrary to Catholic moral teachings.
Last fall, Michael Hichborn, head of the Lepanto Institute, wrote the following condemnation of the CCHD:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which is the official anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has given millions of dollars over the years to organizations that promote abortion, contraception, homosexuality and Marxism. And each time the CCHD is caught handing funds to an organization acting in direct contravention of the Church’s moral and social mission, the CCHD either ignores or lies about what was discovered.
Detailing the abortion advocacy of one of the CCHD’s grantee’s, Faith in Action, Hichborn concluded, “This is a catastrophic failure on the part of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, showing how it is either completely incompetent or complicit with the pro-abortion agenda of Faith in Action. Whatever the case may be, it is time for bishops to shut the CCHD down, completely and for good.”
Bishop O’Connell is also known for his comments on the family, in which he seemed to equate the “traditional family” with “gay couples raising children” and “second marriages.” The comments emerged in March 2018 in a video prepared to promote the World Meeting of Families in Dublin that would take place later that year.
In the uncensored version of the video, O’Connell said, “Pope Francis, he gets it. He gets it that our society has changed so much in the last couple of generations. We have all sorts of configurations of families now, whether it’s just the traditional family of mum and dad together, or it’s now mum on her own or dad on his own, or a gay couple raising children, or people in second marriages. No matter what the configuration of the family is, the call is still to adults to think about how to provide the best, most loving, faithful environment for children possible.”
Church Militant denounced the bishop’s words at the time, saying it “promotes the sin of homosexuality.”
In 2002, in an LA Times profile, O’Connell also voiced support of both women priests and married clergy. “Women should be ordained and clergy should be able to marry,” he said. The bishop added that he thought married clergy would fix the problem of clerical abuse and its cover-up, saying, “If there had been some parents in there running things, none of this would have ever happened.”
Pope St. John Paul II definitively taught that the Church cannot ordain women to the priesthood, and that the practice of priestly celibacy has its origin in Christ Himself and the Apostles and is therefore not merely disciplinary but part of the theological mystery of the priesthood of Christ.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced Thursday that the funeral Mass for Bishop O’Connell will take place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at 11 a.m. Friday, March 3.