Religious items that were stolen from Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno while he was on his way to a Los Banos church have reportedly been returned.
“We understand that the stolen items were found and are being returned to the parish,” Teresa Dominguez said in an email. Dominguez is the chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Fresno.
Cmdr. Ray Reyna said church authorities have notified police that the items have been returned in good condition.
“The church is not interested in pursuing the matter,” Reyna said in an email to the Enterprise. “They are more interested in forgiveness.”
The back window of Ochoa’s vehicle was smashed while he was eating lunch at M&M’s Italian Restaurant in Los Banos around 11:30 a.m. Sunday and objects used to celebrate confirmations – including a crosier, oil stock and ritual book – were stolen.
Ochoa said his crosier – a wooden hooked staff – was given to him when he was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Fresno five years ago, and the oil stock was given to him when he was ordained as a bishop 30 years ago.
“The monetary value is not the issue, it’s the symbolism of the items and the sentimental value to [the] bishop personally,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the crosier symbolizes Ochoa’s leadership as a pastor and that the stolen oils are considered sacred.
“It’s not just a threat, but it’s an offense against the church as well,” Dominguez said.
Earlier in the week, church leaders said the items could be returned with “no questions asked” to St. Joseph’s Church, 1621 Center Ave., Los Banos.
Reyna said Wednesday that a report was taken, but no one was in custody.
Church leaders told police that a woman contacted them saying she has the items and will turn them in.