Father Virgilio Elizondo
Father Virgilio Elizondo was found dead in his home in San Antonio, Texas on Monday. YouTube/University of Notre Dame

Father Virgilio Elizondo, the man once described as “the father of U.S. Latino religious thought,” was found dead at his home in San Antonio, Texas on Monday night. He was 80 years old. Official reports state authorities responded to a call for a shooting at Elizondo’s West Side home fewer than 10 minutes before his official time of death.

The Bexar County Medical Examiner determined Tuesday that the renowned Latino theologian had committed suicide on Monday afternoon. Although details about Elizondo’s conditions prior to his drastic decision remain unknown, authorities confirmed the official cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio mourned the Mexican-American priest’s death on Tuesday morning. “I join the priests of the Archdiocese of San Antonio as we are deeply sadden and stunned by the news of death of Father Virgilio Elizondo…This is an occasion for great sorrow, as his death was sudden and unexpected,” said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller in a statement.

Father Virgilio was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy 30 years ago in 2015 but had until his death, denied all accusations. He was the son of immigrant parents, a respected professor of pastoral and Hispanic theology at Notre Dame, worked on behalf of underpaid Mexican-American laborers in the San Antonio archdiocese during he early 1970s, and founded the Mexican American Cultural Center for pastoral leaders from the United States and Latin America to study.

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