A fake Colombian priest who was hearing confessions and celebrating weddings, was exposed just before Christmas, according to church officials in Spain.
The diocese in Spain where he was preaching was quoted as saying Monday that marriages and baptisms carried out by Miguel Angel Ibarra remain valid.
But AFP reported that confessions carried out by the fake Colombian priest are not, even though the “grace of God acted” on the faithful who were deceived, according to the spokeswoman for the diocese of Cadiz and Ceuta.
Ibarra moved to Spain from Colombia in October 2017 and had been in charge of the church in the village of Medina Sidonia, AFP said.
The village is home to some 11,000 people, in the southern region of Andalusia.
Colombian church officials informed the diocese on December 13 that it had received a complaint that Ibarra had forged his ordination documents and that after carrying out a “thorough investigation” they had concluded that he had never been ordained, the Spanish diocese said in a statement.
He was ordered to go back to his archdiocese of origin in Colombia, Santa Fe de Antioquia, it added.
The diocese of Cadiz and Ceuta said it regretted that “events like this could overshadow the work of parishioners and ordained priests, who serve the Church every day in an exemplary way.”
According to AFP, like in other increasingly secular European countries, Spain is finding it difficult to attract new recruits to the priesthood in recent years and has had to resort to importing priests, often from its former colonies in Latin America.