CNA/EWTN News) – A bishop in Colombia said the recent gay “wedding” officiated by a priest not incardinated in his diocese was fraudulent, as same-sex “marriage” is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

In remarks to the Colombian bishops’ news service, Bishop Jose Alejandro Castano Arbelaez of Cartago said Father Alberto Piedrahita – who was ordained in Canada  – cannot lawfully exercise the priesthood in Colombia.

The sacraments administered by him “are illicit, and in some cases invalid,” the bishop said.

He added that Fr. Piedrahita has caused “great scandal” in the local community by celebrating Mass in inappropriate places, including bars, fields and even on tombs.

Catholics, the bishop noted, “must not only say what we believe, but we must also single out those who in the name of the Catholic Church are fraudulently usurping a right and are seeking to profit financially or increase their personal image.”

He called Fr. Piedrahita “a swindler who is officiating at religious ceremonies in fraudulent way,” and that the priest is “trying to usurp a right of the Church.”

Bishop Castano said such cases create “confusion, because many parishioners turn to these kinds of priests, and so word spreads that they do good, that they celebrate with devotion.”

“For this reason we need to help them understand the norms of the Church in order to stop what is not only abuse, but also fraud and usurpation,” the bishop said.

In a statement issued by the diocese, Bishop Castano urged the faithful to refrain from receiving the sacraments from Fr. Piedrahita and that those who have been married by him so should call the diocesan curia “as soon as possible” to inquire about their validity.

Recognition of same-sex unions in Colombia
Colombia has no laws providing for same-sex marriage. However, as a result of Constitutional Court ruling on 29 January 2009, same-sex couples can be recognized as de facto unions (uniones de hecho), which were previously available only to heterosexual couples and which provide all of the rights of marriage.According to the 1991 Constitution, “de facto unions” are legally equal to marriages.

A couple will be regarded as a de facto union after living together for two years. A union can be either registered or unregistered; both have the same status, but the registered union may provide greater convenience when accessing rights. A union can be registered through a public deed before a notary or a judge.