Nalzaro: Naming Erring Priests

By Bobby Nalzaro
Sun.Star [Philippines]
December 6, 2006

Scandals in the Roman Catholic Church or in other denominations are not new.

Remember the Iglesia ni Cristo pastor accused of rape by his househelp? The victim sought the assistance of dyMF Bombo Radyo broadcasters, who helped her seek justice. She ended up withdrawing the case. The broadcasters? They are facing libel suits filed by the pastor.

Leaders of US-based Christian fundamentalists were linked to scandals. Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown misled his flock into committing mass suicide. Then there were the cases of Jimmy Swaggart, Jesse Jackson and James Baker.

Bob Stanley, in his article entitled "Scandals Within the Catholic Church," said that an average of 3,500 religious in non-Catholic sects are charged with sexual misconduct every year. In Cebu, scandal hit the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association when its supreme master was charged with parricide.

The Catholic Church cannot accuse the media of sensationalizing stories involving the misconduct and malfeasance of priests. Media also reported the questionable conduct of leaders from other religions.

When to name a priest involved in a scandal was the topic of the en banc meeting of members of the Cebu Citizens Press Council at the Marcelo Fernan Press Center yesterday. The controversy involving an unidentified priest accused of making sexual advances on female participants of a Life in the Spirit Seminar at the Abellana National School triggered the discussion.

Some priests who attended the meeting appealed to the media to be cautious in naming members of the clergy involved in scandals to protect their reputation. They said that media should be prudent and responsible enough in handling stories against church leaders because charges hurled at them might just be wild accusations. Ustadz Haron Magadapa, an Imam of Cebu Green Mosque, even joked that in Mindanao media cannot attack a Muslim leader because if he does that the following day he will be dead.

Well, I respect their views. But what is so special with church leaders that media would not reveal their identities if they commit wrongdoings? As long as there are people willing to stand by their allegations, I will reveal the identities of erring church leaders, although I will also give them the opportunity to answer the accusations.

Why have Catholic Church leaders refused to name the priest involved in that controversial Life in the Spirit Seminar? Other media entities are even hesitant to name him, although I already identified him in my radio program. If the priest I named was not the one involved in that scandal, then I expect a violent reaction from him. I even expect him to file a libel case against me.

But why did I divulge the identity of the priest? Because I didn't want other priests who are religiously doing their tasks as servants of God and Church to be dragged into this controversy.

Until now, the priest has not come out in the open. Why?

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