34 Catholic Priests Suspended

By Ferdinand G. Patinio
The Manila Times [Philippines]
September 19, 2003

SEXUAL scandal seems to be hounding members of the clergy more and more. On Thursday the Catholic Church disclosed that 34 priests facing sexual-misconduct cases have been suspended.

“A bishop suspended 20 priests and another [bishop] suspended 14 for sexual-harassment cases,” according to Fr. James Reuter S.J., spokesman for the Apostolic Nunciature and director of the National Office on Mass Media.

The Church official declined to identify the diocese to which the bishops and the priests belong, since there is an ongoing investigation.

Recently two officials of the Catholic Church—Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr. and Antipolo Bishop Crisostomo Yalung—were implicated in a sex scandal.

Of the two, only the case of Yalung has been sanctioned. He resigned as bishop of the Antipolo diocese and is in the United States after admitting siring the children of his 26-year-old lover. The case of Bishop Bacani is still being investigated by the Vatican.

A protocol of punishment for priests is being drafted to help the Catholic hierarchy deal with the problem.

Under the protocol the priest or bishop who commits mistakes, as against his vow by fathering a child, engaging in homosexual activities and betraying his vow of celibacy, shall be penalized with commensurate sanctions.

Those found guilty of committing any of the three offenses would have to undergo seminary formation again and rehabilitation.

However, Reuter expressed concerns if the protocol would be carried out, since the draft protocol has not been sent to the Vatican for approval.

“If they don’t come up with it I can sympathize with them, but I was informed that it would be out in September or maybe what they meant was they will send it to Rome,” he said.

Reuter opined that even if the committee appointed to gather evidence and opinion has completed its survey and research, it’s still not a guarantee that the protocol will be carried out within this year, noting that Rome may delay its approval because of the sensitivity of the issue.


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