—— “The most godly man I ever met” ———- Jack T. Chick
Alberto Rivera, the alleged former Catholic priest, bishop, and anti-Catholic hero of Jack Chick comic strips, was exposed as a total fraud by non-Catholic (evangelical Protestant) Gary Metz, in two articles appearing in evangelical magazines:
1) “The Alberto Story,” Cornerstone, vol. 9, no. 53, 1981, pp. 29-31.
2) Christianity Today, March 13, 1981.
I have heard that the Christian Research Institute (CRI), founded by the late Dr. Walter Martin, widely regarded as the foremost evangelical counter-cult specialist, has also done an exposé of Rivera. Here are some excerpts from the first article above:
. . . the Christian Reformed Church, Zondervan Publishers, and the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board have banned it from their bookstores.
Jack Chick states that Christian bookstores are being infiltrated by undercover Catholic propaganda teams who pressure the owner until he ‘compromises with Rome and pulls Alberto out of the store.’
Is Alberto’s story true? No! Our intensive investigation reveals his police record, his investment schemes, his bad check-writing, his contradictory testimony, his fabricated educational record, and his reported family abuse . . . Alberto Rivera, also known as Alberto Romero, has a history of legal entanglements. He is currently involved in a court action in Southern California, accused of fraud.
In 1965, a warrant for his arrest was issued in Hoboken, New Jersey, for writing bad checks. He also left debts in excess of $3,000.
In 1969 two warrants were issued against him in DeLand and Ormond Beach, Florida. The first was for the theft of a Bank-Americard. The criminal investigation division of the Bank of America reports he charged over $2,000 on the credit card. The second warrant was for the ‘unauthorized use of an automobile.’ Alberto abandoned the vehicle in Seattle, Washington. From there he moved to Southern California.
Alberto’s account of his conversion is contradictory. In 1964 while working for the Christian Reformed Church, he said he was converted from Catholicism in July of 1952. Now he maintains it was in 1967 . . . 3:00 in the morning on March 20, 1967. He says he immediately defected from the Catholic church. However, five months later, in August of 1967, he was still promoting Catholicism and the ecumenical movement in a newspaper interview in his hometown of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
Alberto commands great respect from many with his alleged numerous degrees including an N.D., a D.D., a Th.D., a Ph.D., and a master’s in psychology. However, he is ambiguous when asked where he received these degrees. Alberto attended a seminary in Costa Rica (the Seminario Biblio Latinamericano) with a friend from Las Palmas, but he did not graduate. That friend, Rev. Plutarco Bonilla (a respected Christian leader in Central America), said that Alberto never finished high school in Las Palmas and that he was in the seminary program for non-high school graduates. The school in a letter said they were forced to expel Alberto for his ‘continual lying and defiance of seminary authority.’ The known chronology of his life does not allow time for him to have achieved the academic status he claims. When Rev. Wishart [former associate of Alberto, and once a pastor of the First Baptist Church of San Fernando] pressed Alberto concerning his degrees, Alberto admitted receiving them from a diploma mill in Colorado. This ended their relationship. Pastor Rasmussen (Faith Baptist Church in Canoga Park, California) also asked Alberto to substantiate some of his claims by submitting to a lie detector test. Alberto said he would: three times apoointments were made for him, three times he failed to appear.
He met his first ‘wife’ in Costa Rica while working with the Methodist church. Rev. Bonilla says that Alberto was living there with a woman in the late 1950s but they weren’t legally married: Alberto said God ordained their marriage. Alberto later claimed in an employment form that he and Carmen Lydia Torres were married on November 25, 1963. Their son Juan was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in September, 1964 . . . A supervisor at the time, Rev. Edson Lewis, said that Alberto physically abused both Carmen Lydia and Juan. Less than a year after his birth, in July, 1965, Juan died in El Paso, Texas, where his parents had fled, after they wrote bad checks in New Jersey.
[a new son, Alberto, was born in 1967 or 1968] It is difficult to determine the whereabouts of the child Alberto today, but Rev. Abrego [former associate and roommate] claims he was placed in a welfare home in Tennessee . . . Alberto and Carmen Lydia had still another son, Luis Marx, early in 1969. While they were still in Florida, their hosts said Luis Marx was mistreated. What happened to Luis Marx is unknown, but when Alberto left Florida for Seattle with the car and credit card, they no longer had the child with them. What happened to Carmen Lydia after Seattle is also unknown, but Alberto remarried in 1977 to Nury Frias, a woman from the Dominican Republic. Whether he was ever legally married to and/or divorced from the other woman is unknown. At any rate, it is extremely damaging to Rivera’s credibility to discover that he had two children (Juan and Alberto) in America during the time he was supposed to be a celibate priest in Europe!
What does Jack Chick think about this? . . . When he was finally reached by phone at his home, he said that he had never met a more godly man than Alberto, and that he knows Alberto’s story is true because he ‘prayed about it.’ Jack says he expects his own life to be taken by Jesuit assassins [he is still kicking 17 years later]. When we reached Alberto by phone, he also refused to meet with us . . . He claims that any wrongdoings prior to his conversion in 1967 were done under the orders of the Catholic church, and any wrongdoings since his conversion are fabrications by the conspirators.
As we have seen, Alberto’s story is fraudulent, as was the story of John Todd, another Jack Chick protégé, who said the witches are taking over the world (see Issue #48 of Cornerstone). Alberto has skillfully created a closed, paranoid defense system which makes it difficult to corner him on specific issues. He can always dismiss any accusation as part of the Jesuit plot.
Alberto Rivera’s fraudulent claims underscore a sad fact: many Protestants have as distorted a view of Catholics as whites earlier in the century had of blacks. The black man was caricatured as having ‘lotsa rhythm and little-a brains,’ while the Catholic is portrayed as an automaton who is in unquestioning bondage to church authorities.
In a later issue of Cornerstone (Vol. 10, Issue no. 54), is an article, “Cornerstone Responds to Chick”:
Jack T. Chick has issued a three-page reply to Gary Metz’s expose of Alberto Rivera . . . In his letter of March 25, 1981, co-signed by Rivera, Chick alleges that ‘the systematic destruction of John Todd’s ministry’ is being repeated by the Vatican to destroy Alberto. (Todd claimed to have been one of the leaders of an international conspiracy of witches to set up Jimmy Carter as the Antichrist; Chick promoted Todd’s story in earlier comic books.) Chick accuses Christianity Today and Cornerstone, both of whom ran exposes on John Todd, of furthering the cause of the ‘antichrist in the Vatican.’
A typical example of Chick’s defense of Alberto: the evidence for Alberto’s degrees disappeared because the Vatican ‘erased Dr. Rivera’s name from all directories in schools, seminaries, and colleges’; Rivera’s former associates and acquaintances contradict his story because they are Vatican spies; the women he was involved with were from ‘the Legion of Mary or Catholic Youth.’ So with the magic wand of Vatican conspiracy, Rivera is exonerated from any evidence that can possibly be adduced against him.
We feel that if Jack Chick really has a burden for Catholics, he needs to steer clear of fabrications and find a more reliable source of information.
Rivera’s third Chick comic book, The Godfathers, contains the following claims, presented seriously as solemn truth (my descriptions):
The Vatican plans to exterminate the Jews and set up the seat of the papacy in the Temple of Jerusalem, where the pope will reign as God, literally fulfilling the prophecies concerning the “man of sin” in 2 Thess 2:3-4;
The Vatican financed the Moslem-Jewish wars in the 10th century;
The Jesuits assassinated Abraham Lincoln;
Communist Founders Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were coached and directed by Jesuit agents;
The Jesuits also trained Trotsky, Lenin, and Josef Stalin;
Adolf Hitler was a pawn of the Catholics, while his book Mein Kampf was really written by a Jesuit priest;
The Vatican was behind World War I and II, and the Russian revolution of 1917;
The Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, and the Masons are all secretly being directed by Jesuit agents;
All the other so-called international conspiracies (the Illuminati, the Communists, the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Club of Rome, etc.) were actually created by the Catholic Church as a smokescreen to direct attention away from the Vatican.
Cornerstone magazine observes:
Rivera’s claim to be a former priest, bishop, and intelligence agent for the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been discussed in previous issues . . . we found this claim to be a complete falsehood . . . I am amazed that Jack Chick can have such a paranoiac view of history; the word ‘Catholicaphobia’ immediately forms itself in my mind. It was because of such propaganda that two previous Chick comic books were banned by the Canadian government last October. They refer to it as being in the category of ‘obscene literature.’
Actually, if I did believe there was a secret Jesuit conspiracy, I would say that Alberto Rivera is still a part of it. His ludicrous accusations have damaged the cause of legitimate Protestant/Catholic relations.
Oftentimes, yes, but not always. My wife didn’t do that.
If he is using my definition, which is fairly standard, he means someone who denies that the Catholic Church is a Christian institution and who denies that anyone who fully accepts its teachings (i.e., an orthodox Catholic) can be a Christian.
Does he mean that nobody can question the false teachings of Rome?
People can disagree vigorously with teachings (just as Protestants do amongst themselves; e.g., on the Calvinist vs. Arminian controversies), but to read an entire group out of Christianity altogether (when it is in fact Christian) is an entirely different thing. This is bearing false witness, and it is also (in my opinion) intellectual suicide. If Protestantism is Christian (as it certainly is), Catholicism must also be, given the history of Christianity.
Is doing that what makes someone anti-Catholic?
No. See my second comment back.
What about those Catholics who speak against evangelical Christians? Can we call them also anti-evangelicals?
Only if they say they are not Christians. And no Catholic who knows his faith will do that. Only fringe groups like Feeneyites and so-called “traditionalists” (who question the authority of Vatican II and the pope) ever do that. We critique teachings all the time, of course. I do that, but I am not “anti-evangelical.” I admire them quite a bit, in fact (having been one for 13 years I know what they are about).
How about those catholics who bitterly criticize and oppose evangelical Christians? Can we label them also as anti-evangelicals? I ask you.
Isn’t this saying basically the same thing that the last question said?
Worse yet, is the response you gave to this uninformed man. In fact, you assert that “there is a tremendous amount of anti-Catholic propaganda out there”. So, the question concerns you too, What do you mean by anti-Catholic?
Answered above. I’m sure Fr. Bloom would agree with this.
Do you mean that nobody has the right to question the false teachings of the roman catholic church? Is that what you mean?
Apparently, you think repetition makes your argument stronger, since you keep repeating yourself. Note, too, that this is a loaded question, much like saying, “Do you mean that nobody has the right to question the fact that Protestants beat their wives?”
Not only that, but you implied that such amount of information is not true or relevant, when you say that “one is tempted to simply ignore it except for the fact that so much of it is directed to our young people”.
I know how he feels. Much of it is sheer nonsense and not worth reading at all. But priests and apologists such as myself have a responsibility to speak out against lies, slander, and disinformation.
In other words, you say that almost all the information against catholicism is too false and full of errors, that you will probably waste your time trying to refute it. But because much of that information goes to young people, you are really concerned.
Precisely. The priest must protect his flock, and the apologist’s task is to defend Catholicism and reveal the errors and falsehoods of its opponents and their critiques.
After that, you mentioned Richard Bennett about his vicious attacks against the roman catholic church. We can talk about Bennett in other occasion, but something that really got my attention was your statement that “…there have been some notorious fake priests like “Dr. Alberto Rivera” who pulled the wool over Jack Chick’s eyes”. Of course you cannot substantiate your claims, because you did not know Alberto Rivera, much less, the efforts the Vatican made to kill him.
See the material above.
I met Alberto Rivera. In fact, I was very close to his ministry. I know first hand what you and other catholics call “a lie”. I know his story was true.
Then I’m sure you can refute the information in the article (above). Best wishes.
He had the proofs and the catholic church wanted him dead. Why? Because he knew too much. But most important, because he was preaching the true gospel that saves. He was proclaiming with boldness and without fear the biblical gospel that sets people free from the bondage of Roman Catholicism. You guys did not find another way to refute his testimony, because he was telling the truth.
It’s not “us guys” — the person who did the research was a Protestant evangelical named Gary Metz. The article appeared in Christianity Today (founded by Billy Graham and not exactly a Catholic magazine), on March 13, 1981.
The only choice you had, was trying to discredit him, even using the so called “evangelical apologists” such as Walter Martin and Hank Hannegraaf.
How do you define “evangelical”? Anyone who is a fundamentalist or a Calvinist or an anti-Catholic, or all three? That can easily be shown to be absurd and self-contradictory.
Everybody knows that Vatican always plays dirty. And in this case was not the exception.
Bigots always “know” everything about their opponents, and think everyone else “knows” too.
You say David Armstrong does a “good expose” of Alberto Rivera. Can you e-mail it to me to check it out?
Your wish has been granted. I will shortly post the article again. As a special bonus, I will even include our little dialogue, and you can respond if you like and I will post your reply. You can’t ask for more than that, can you? Here’s your big chance to expose all the Catholic lies and murderous tactics “everybody knows” about on a large Catholic website!
Please send me that expose, maybe he is right. Who knows?
I commend your open-mindedness.
But, let say for a moment that Alberto Rivera was not for real and that he was a liar. Does that change the verifiable data against roman catholicism? No!! How about Dave Hunt, Mike Gendron, Timothy McCarthy, Roger Oakland and a host of others which were not catholic priests, but present the naked truth against the roman catholic church? Are they also anti-catholics?
Yes. And they have been refuted time and again on websites such as Fr. Bloom’s and my own.
Are they not for real?
They’re for real alright. But they are wrong.
Come on!! Give me something more logical. You are a Catholic priest and you know the Scriptures, but the Word of God is not enough for you. What a tragedy!! Having the light you prefer to be in darkness. Having the bread of life you are starving to death. Am I an anti-Catholic?
Of course not!! I love Catholics.
Of course you are. It is not about loving Catholics or not. It is about speaking falsehoods about brothers in Christ. The sin is in the lie. We are not reading your heart; only objecting to your false statements.
I know they need desperately to trust Jesus Christ as their only and solely SAVIOUR.
Amen! We have taught no differently. Last I checked Catholics believed in one Saviour just as Protestants do.
Apostle Peter, the one you say was the first Pope answered Jesus: “…Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Only Him is the One who can forgive your sins!!
Amen! This only goes to prove that every falsehood contains some truth, so that more people can be fooled.
In case you may wonder if I know for sure the teachings of the roman catholic church,
I don’t have to wonder. It is obvious that you do not, from what you write.
I want to let you know that I lived in Mexico with my parents for almost thirty years.
So what? Everyone has to learn their faith as an individual.
Do I know what [the] Roman Catholic church teaches? Of course!
Of course not!
And I know that almost every Roman Catholic do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.
I’m amazed by your God-like ability to read into the hearts of men.
And those who by the mercy of God are saved, they can not remain in the catholic church,
Exactly as I stated above. This is classic anti-Catholicism.
such as Alberto Rivera, Richard Bennett, et.al. You say you are amazed of how an ex-Catholic priest can give such a distorted presentation of Catholic teaching. Believe me, is not distorted. Probably you are the one who don’t know Catholic teaching very well, or perhaps, you are totally deceived.
Oh, I see. So a priest with a seminary education does not know his own Church’s teachings, while the former Catholic with an axe to grind, does (simply because he lived in Mexico for thirty years). I find this hilariously funny (but, of course, tragic at the same time).
I urge you to watch a video of a debate between Dave Hunt and Karl Keating:
I saw them debate in person. It may be the same one you refer to.
Can Roman Catholicism be identified with early Christianity? If you haven’t watch it yet, you are missing something that can give you a clear perspective of what is the true and biblical Christianity.
If it is the one I attended, Hunt did no such thing. Here is what I wrote about it elsewhere:
. . . Dave Hunt . . . “debated” Karl Keating in the Detroit area on the historical proposition, “Was the Early Church Catholic?” without citing a single Church Father all night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I pointed out the absurdity of this to him by mail, he retorted:
You missed the whole point of my debate — that I do not go to the church fathers to find out what the early church was like or what it should have been like, but I quoted the Bible. The Bible is what tells us about the early church . . . What’s the point of looking to the early church fathers? They could have departed from the truth as well! Our only sure knowledge of the early church was and should have been the scriptures.(Personal letter of April 24, 1995)
Such a view is embarrassing, to say the least (with great restraint) and is self-refuting. Thus I will not waste my time “answering” it. Articulate Protestants tell me that sola Scriptura does not cancel out Tradition or Church History, yet with statements like this and the nonexistence of any substantial recourse to the history of Christianity before 1517 . . . I become that much more hostile to sola Scriptura.I see all around me the “fruit” it produces — Christians . . . who can’t see past their own nose and couldn’t care less about even the most brilliant Fathers such as St. Augustine (who is often inexplicably claimed by the rare history-minded Protestant as one of their own), or even the heritage of their own forerunners, the “Reformers,” quite often eschewing the very title “Protestant.” I must say I’ve never understood or comprehended the a-historical mindset, and I never possessed it as a Protestant. Since, as Newman says, “to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant,” I was destined to become a Catholic eventually.
I sincerely hope you may ponder what I write to you, and in so doing, you arrive at the same conclusion than me: Roman Catholicism is totally contrary to the Word of God.
I have arrived at precisely the opposite conclusion, and have debated or refuted (in writing) most of the leading anti-Catholics today: James White, John Ankerberg, William Webster, David King, Eric Svendsen, Jason Engwer, and others.
Almost all of them (the only exception was Engwer) split after my first reply, never counter-responding. That doesn’t appear to me as the confidence of one who possesses the truth and “knows” about the “falsehood” of Catholicism, particularly since in every case I offered to post their words on my website just as I am doing with you. I continue to support Catholicism from the Bible in articles and books. You are welcome to try and answer any of my papers. I will counter-respond to any such attempt (unlike my anti-Catholic buddies who always run for the hills as soon as they are decisively answered).