Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sex scandals hurt image of priesthood, prelate says

Courtesy of CBCP News


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, May 4, 2010—The recent media play-up of sex scandals involving some priests and bishops across the globe has somewhat tainted and damaged the image of priesthood, according to a prelate.[This is the first time a Filipino bishop addressed this issue! As far as I could recall.]

Delivering his homily before a jam-packed Cathedral of St. Augustine in Cagayan de Oro on April 30 during the ordination of Bishop Jose Cabantan, Surigao Bishop Antonieto Cabajog said the media coverage of the issue have led some people to lose their faith and respect for the clergy. [Making mountains out of molehills.  But concrete steps must be undertaken to prevent this from happening.  But I digress.]

Cabajog lamented that people seemed to forget “that majority of the ordained ministers are serving seriously, wholeheartedly and joyfully the people of God.” [Bingo!  The magic word!] The anti-Catholic media who have an agenda to undermine the moral authority of the Church in society will attack the Church on this front.  Stay informed and know the facts.  There are those who will inflate a condom of lies, if I may use the term.]

What adds great damage to the scandal is the irresponsible handling of the issue by people in the media and by some groups who are unsympathetic to the Catholic Church,” the prelate said.

Cabajog said the celebration of the “Year for Priests,” is an opportune time for the Church to acknowledge “in a special way the services of faithful and holy priests.”

He then cited the significant contribution of Bishop Jose Araneta Cabantan in the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro serving in various capacities as a member of the clergy.

Fr. Joe, as called by his friends, served as parochial vicar, parish administrator, seminary formator and later on as vicar general of the ecclesial province and recently Director for the ad extra ministry of Cagayan de Oro.

“For more or less 20 years, Fr. Joe fulfilled his assigned tasks silently, diligently and lovingly and in spite of his high educational attainment and noble status in the archdiocese, Fr. Joe remains a simple, humble and faithful servant of God,” the prelate from Surigao said.

Cabajog said the people also recognized the sacrifices of priests in large and small parishes, in mission areas, in schools, in hospitals, in monasteries, retreat houses, the military and in other various ministries.

“For all shepherds of souls who, without counting the costs and with no personal interests, are serving God’s flock untiringly, thank you very much,” he added.

He said there is no better way to express the people’s gratitude to these dedicated priests than “to support them in their struggle towards spiritual perfection through our daily prayer for their sanctification.”

The prelate from Surigao said the “Year for Priests" provides the clergy the opportunity to make a personal, deep interior conversion in order to make themselves credible ministers of God’s people.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, the prelate said “the effectiveness of a priest’s ministry particularly depends on his spiritual strength.”

Cabajog said human weaknesses including laziness, mediocrity, selfishness, lust and pride [which are some of the seven deadly sins, which unfortunately are not being taught in Catechism classes nowadays.] could easily impede a priest’s desire to serve as the Church encourages all ordained ministers to “rekindle their ideals of the priesthood” and to “once again give their best efforts to observe the promises and vows they had made during their ordination day.”

Many have an inadequate or wrong understanding of priesthood as there are people who consider the priesthood as “a way of improving one’s status in life,” Cabajog said. [Ouch!  I know a lot some of them media hungry ones.  "Can you say good morning to the one seated beside you?"  I often suspect these types of priests who use the Mass as their own variety shows to have questionable lifestyles.  Okay before you even bring out your pitchforks and demand that I be burned at the stakes and call your own Torquemada, I know all of these priests.  Some of them struggling to stay faithful to their ministry and some are just plain too lukewarm.  They couldn't care less for what they do even if they live their flamboyantly scandalous lives right under their own parishioners noses.  Some are too scandalous, I would not dare post it here.  Thank God we do not have our own New York Times here, though the Philippine Daily Inquirer is trying to be one, attacking the Church at whim.  But these men should just go quietly and leave the ministry if they cannot be faithful to their vocation.  They do more harm than good to the Body of Christ.  Once again, before you demand for my head on the stake, I KNOW THESE MEN PERSONALLY.  Pray for them that they make the right decision in life.  The Church does not need another Maciel!]

They look at the priest as somebody who is economically rich, politically influential and socially high above the others, he added.

“There are also others who would like to reduce the priestly ministry to the dispensation of sacraments, while others would merely equate it with community leadership,” he emphasized. [Dispensation of the Sacraments is the primary reason for ordination.  No matter how Protestant pastors and clergy of questionable orders wave their hands or sprinkle buckets of water on you, all of these are not sacramental.  I am not against community leadership but as I always say, Basics First!  Some priests spend more time in the streets and in their offices and boardrooms rather than in the confessional or at the altar, then that is a red flag for the superior and/or bishop.  But I digress.]

He said during the “Year for Priests”, the people should increase their knowledge of the priesthood “in the light of the priesthood of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve because the priesthood of Christ is rooted in the love of God and is practiced by way of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding.”
Bishop Cabajog with the pope

 He further said Pope Benedict XVI used the words of St. John Vianney who once said “Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” [There is also a reason why St. John Vianney was made Patron of all Priests, because I believe the Pope wants all priests to be like St. John Vianney,  TO STICK TO THE BASICS!]

Cabajog said it is a fitting reminder for priests that in doing their ministry, they are to embody and carry the love of Jesus for his people and in this way, a priest is really to be called alter Christus or another Christ in the midst of God’s flock.

The prelate from Surigao said many would look at Bishop Jose Cabantan as someone going up the ladder of the hierarchy with his elevation to the episcopacy.

“[But] Bishop Joe, in the Christian community, you are actually going a step lower in order to serve more people,” Cabajog said.


Beautiful sermon!  Hope we can get the full text.

Huzzah to Bishop Antonieto Cabajog


  1. The priest must first learn to internally love his vocation. One of the best treasure the Church provides her priests is in the apostolic letter given motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Only if priests would consider to discover what it really means for them.