The padre's superior, Monsignor Magin Torreblanca, the bishop of Texcoco, has never given permission for Father Gutierrez to wrestle professionally. Then again, he has never tried to stop him. He simply looks the other way.
"At first, I didn't approve," says Monsignor Torreblanca. "But since what he does helps the children, then I approve. If he were to change his priorities—say, first came wrestling, then came the church—I would not approve. But he is giving his life for those children."
Says Father Gutierrez, "I think God approves. Otherwise He would send something to hurt me. And He hasn't done that."
The padre justifies the occasional atomic knee drop as a gift from God to keep his children fed. "The Bible says 'Turn the other cheek,' but when you're in the ring, you sometimes forget you are a priest," says the padre. "And, actually, your opponents forget, too."
He also says, "I want people to see wrestling not as violent but as beautiful, elegant, artistic. I don't think the people who watch me see me as sanguinary. I think they just see me as someone who is trying to fight a good fight."
Jacob wrestled his angel. Jesus got violent in the temple. And the Bible says of the Lord, "his enemies shall lick the dust." What's wrong with trying to make poverty lick the mat?
And besides, Father Gutierrez doesn't totally ignore his vocation when he's in the ring. Once in a while, he might lose track of what he's doing and put a sleeper hold on one of the referees, then, seeing his mistake, bless the man. One time he married two wrestlers in a ring—with his mask on. If anybody should know any reason why these two should not be joined, let him step into the Confessional.
The ones to worry about, perhaps, are his Catholic opponents. At Arena Mexico, the wrestlers pray to a small shrine of Jesus before walking to the ring. How much guilt, then, does a Catholic wrestler absorb when he gives a poor priest who runs an orphanage the old over-the-knee back buster? "Sometimes it doesn't seem right," says Ormuz the Viking God. "Sometimes I get upset. But then I remember that I am helping the children and it feels good again."
This is one strange soup of a life. Take, for instance, the 3 X 5 file card containing his Sunday schedule, which his secretary hands the padre every Saturday night. A typical one reads something like this:
8 a.m.—Mass, St. Miguel's