Irvine lawyer Tim Busch is helping push Catholic Church to the right in America, L.A. Times reports

Tim Busch is photographed at his office in Irvine on Dec.13.
Tim Busch is photographed at his office in Irvine, where there is a chapel, on Dec. 13.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Dec. 20. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.

Having just read the news that Pope Francis had formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples (while still holding to his belief that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman), I stumbled across an in-depth, very interesting report about an Irvine attorney and hotelier who holds decidedly more conservative views than does his pope.

The article, written by Times investigative reporter Harriet Ryan, puts the spotlight on Tim Busch, a devout Catholic who champions a conservative movement shared by a group of other members of his faith in the U.S.

“The fight to move the Catholic Church in America to the right — and the little-known O.C. lawyer behind it” is the headline on Ryan’s piece.

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In it she notes that during the same day in October that the pope led a synod on moderinizing the church, inviting clergy and lay people to “discuss issues such as the ordination of women, ministry to gay and transgender people, empowerment of Indigenous communities and the rights of the poor,” Busch was in Manhattan on a mission that reads like the polar opposite.

“In New York, meanwhile, a Catholic millionaire from Orange County led an event that seemed a throwback to the church of the 1950s: Priests in ornate vestments marched down Broadway with a police escort, the Eucharist held aloft under a gilded canopy and accompanied by wafting incense, candle bearers and nuns in habits and waist-length veils,” Ryan writes.

While there participating in a Catholic conference aimed at wealthy businesspeople, for which he organized the procession, Busch declared “We can retake the culture of America.”

Ryan writes, “Among rank-and-file American Catholics, Francis is enormously popular as he enters the second decade of his papacy, with 84% of weekly Massgoers holding a favorable opinion of him. But as he nudges the global church left, an elite group of U.S. conservatives led by Busch is trying to pull the American church right.”

In her article, the veteran reporter describes how Busch created the Napa Institute to rally conservative Catholics.

“Busch has described the Napa Institute as building a Catholic fortress in an increasingly godless America where the faithful ‘hunker down and survive’ until secular society self-destructs,” Ryan reports.

Although he offered an emailed response to the reporter, Busch declined requests to be interviewed.

In his email, Busch wrote that he and his affiliates “universally recognize Pope Francis as the Vicar of Christ, pray for him, and understand the obedience that is owed to the Holy Father, regardless of whatever spirited and respectful dialogue and debate there might be regarding the contours of our faith and morals.”

I can’t do justice to the entire article in this space. I highly recommend reading it if you subscribe to The Times.

MORE NEWS

A stubborn fire burns a hangar at the former Tustin Air Base on Nov. 7.
The city of Tustin said the early November hangar fire at the former Marine Air Station that forced the closure of schools due to air quality concerns has cost the municipality more than $40 million. City officials announced Monday the Navy has agreed to pay Tustin $11 million to help pay the tab.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The city of Tustin reports the recent, massive hangar fire at the former Marine Corps Air Station cost it more than $40 million. In a news release issued Monday, city officials said the Navy, which owns the 85-acre parcel where the North Hangar burned, has pledged to pay Tustin $11 million to help toward those costs. In related news, city officials also report the county health department informed them that air monitoring of the fire site by health and environmental regulators shows no concern regarding airborne asbestos.

Orange County is among the regions placed under flood watch until Friday afternoon. As storms began to arrive, bringing heavy rains, the National Weather Service on Tuesday added Orange County to its long list of SoCal areas where flooding might occur this week.

The Equestrian Center at the O.C. fairgrounds, which has been losing money, was spared in a board meeting held last week. After listening to public comment during an hours-long meeting, the directors of the Orange County Fair & Event Center opted to hold a series of public meetings between fairgrounds staff, residents and Equestrian Center stakeholders to jointly and openly develop a public-programming model of operation that will hopefully be in place by June.

The Santa Ana Delhi River Channel waterway is cluttered with debris in less than a month after cleanup.
(Susan Hoffman)

Just weeks after the last cleanup there, another 3,100 pounds of trash was collected by volunteers from the Santa Ana Delhi River Channel over the weekend. Orange County Coastkeepers and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris joined efforts to recruit about 40 volunteers who turned out Saturday for the cleanup. The channel, which straddles the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach border before entering into Upper Newport Bay is the last chance to remove trash before it gets into the bay, according to Matt Sylvester, communications director OC Coastkeeper.

Local officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Surfside-Sunset Beach sand replenishment project. The $23.1-million project, which began late last month, is expected to dredge and backpass 1.2 million cubic yards of sand along the coastline from the area via ocean currents to Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, 17 miles in all. According to the Daily Pilot report on last Wednesday’s ceremony, the project should be completed in February. San Clemente on Friday also embarked on its own sand replenishment project, which involves placing 251,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach to widen it by 50 feet. That work is expected to be completed next month.

A series of malpractice suits has been filed against a Laguna Beach plastic surgeon by former patients, and the California Medial Board has accused him of gross negligence. The L.A. Times report on the suits, “‘Dr. Laguna’ was Instagram famous, but patients call his ‘mommy makeover’ surgeries dangerous,” details the allegations in the suits against Dr. Arian Mowlavi and the concerns of not only the patients and state board, but of another O.C. physician. “Dr. Mowlavi is a danger to the community and his plastic surgery patients,” Dr. Robert Kachenmeister, head of plastic surgery at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, said in a declaration submitted to court.

PUBLIC SAFETY & COURTS

Artist Alicia Rojos paints over the vandal's spray-painted words "white power" on the Poderosas mural wall.
Artist Alicia Rojos paints over the vandal’s spray-painted words “white power” on the Poderosas mural wall. On Friday, Daniel Alec Hotte, 28, of Dana Point, pleaded guilty to charges associated with the Oct. 31, 2022, crime and was given six months in jail.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

A Dana Point resident was given jail time for his racist defacing of the Ponderosas mural in Costa Mesa. Daniel Alec Hotte, 28, pleaded guilty to felony vandalism with a sentencing enhancement for a hate crime related to the white supremacist message he wrote across the mural that honors local Latinas of note on Oct. 31, 2022.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes and Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer on Thursday announced a crackdown on a burglary ring. Nine suspects were rounded up last Wednesday, with law enforcement still seeking 11 more suspects. Prosecutors have charged 20, including five juveniles, in connection with the ring, which they say is tied to 34 break-ins across the county, with an estimated loss of about $500,000 in cash, weapons and valuables.

A fertility doctor was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday for killing his wife in their San Clemente home. City News Service reports Eric Scott Sills, 58, was convicted for the Nov. 13, 2016, death of 45-year-old Susann Stephanie Arsuaga Sills. Sentencing has been set for March 15.

LIFE & LEISURE

Infinite Kitchen technology at Sweetgreens, which dispenses ingredients into bowls that are finished by hand at the counter.
The new Sweetgreen location in Huntington Beach utilizes its “Infinite Kitchen” technology to dispense ingredients into bowls that are later finished by hand at the counter.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

A new restaurant has opened in Huntington Beach that uses what it calls its “Infinite Kitchen” automated technology. It is the second of the 224 Sweetgreen eateries nationwide to use the automation to dispense ingredients into awaiting serving bowls, according to this feature by my colleague Matt Szabo. The company’s director of automation, Kale Rogers, told Szabo the Infinite Kitchen system can make up to 500 bowls per hour — about 50% more than humans could — which allows the restaurant employees to focus more on hospitality.

Volunteers work on Newport Beach's float for the Rose Parade at the Phoenix Decorating Co. in Irwindale on Saturday,
Parents of Boy Scout Troop 270 of Garden Grove work on Newport Beach’s float entry in the upcoming Rose Parade “Jingle on the Waves,” at the Phoenix Decorating Co., in Irwindale on Saturday. It will be the longest float in the venerable parade’s history.
(James Carbone)

With the new year almost upon us, volunteers are decorating Newport Beach’s entry in the upcoming Rose Parade. The city’s first entry in several years is called “Jingle on the Waves” and is an homage to the city’s most iconic features: the Christmas Boat Parade, which recently finished its 115th run; the Balboa Fun Zone; and the Balboa Pavilion. It will be the longest float in the parade’s history.

SPORTS

UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers celebrates his team's win.
UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers from Newport Beach celebrates his team’s win against Boise State at the Starco Brands LA Bowl UCLA vs. Boise State at SoFi Stadium on Saturday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Homegrown Ethan Garbers had a spectacular night Saturday when UCLA beat Boise State to capture the LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium. Garbers, who played for Corona del Mar High before heading to college, stepped in as quarterback after Collin Schlee slammed his head on the turf in the third quarter. Garbers handled the pressure with poise and was named Player of the Game after leading the team to a 35-22 victory. It was the first bowl win for the Bruins since 2015.

After losing to the Las Vegas Raiders by an embarrassing 63-21 last Thursday, the still Costa Mesa-based L.A. Chargers made some changes. Shown the door Friday morning were coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco, along with defensive run game coordinator/defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. Owner Dean Spanos said in a statement he didn’t make the firing decisions lightly but that he wasn’t willing to risk “doing nothing in the name of continuity.”

The Ducks held off the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Monday night, in Detroit. Adam Henrique, who scored his fourth goal in two games, was coming off his first career hat trick Sunday against New Jersey. According to the Associated Press report on the game, goaltender Lucas Dostal, who made 30 saves, said “I think we all did a heck of a job.”

Estancia High’s girls soccer team earned a 1-0 victory over five-time defending league champion Costa Mesa last Thursday. It was the first time Estancia prevailed over Costa Mesa since Jan. 30, 2019.

Fountain Valley High’s wrestling team placed first at the Mann Classic. Fountain Valley surged in the final round Saturday to claim first in the tournament by a narrow margin of 220.5-217.5 over Servite.

CALENDAR THIS

Lego master Bryan Firks with his castle build "Neuschwanstein Castle."
The OC Brick Convention will welcome Lego enthusiasts Jan. 27-28 at the OC Fair & Event Center.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

Lego lovers take note: the OC Brick Convention will be coming to the OC Fair & Event Center next month. Organizers promise more than 1 million Lego bricks will be under the center’s roof for this two-day event, Jan. 27 and 28. Lego artists from around the U.S. will be there to show their creations and meet with fans. Tickets, priced at $14.99, are already on sale and can be purchased here.

Friday Night Munchies (Night Market) will be held Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. Hours for the open air street fair featuring specialty foods are 6 to 10 p.m. each Friday at 1301 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Thank you for reading today’s newsletter. If you have a memory or story about Orange County, I would love to read and share it in this space. Please try to keep your submission to 100 words or less and include your name and current city of residence.

I appreciate your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Please send news tips, your memory of life in O.C. (photos welcome!) or comments to carol.cormaci@latimes.com.