By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Nothing less than a miracle that our bishops and priests have been behaving these many years. A clean slate! On the other hand, there’s Cardinal Tagle telling the world that “cultural taboos” have kept victims from coming forward to denounce the wolves in holy robes who have sexually abused them.
Would we and the world believe how clean the Philippine scorecard has been? Perhaps we are in denial? I had a conversation with two parish priests last week and they agreed (with each other) that until they have seen “documents” reporting the plight of victims identified by name, age, address, etc. and accusing so-and-so of such a heinous crime, there’s no way the two of them could comment one way or the other.
“I do not feel comfortable talking about something I don’t know anything about,” said the younger priest. The older one cast a slim beacon of light by saying that if there are any cases against Filipino priests, the files would be duly registered in the Vatican. “It’s the job of the Pope’s ambassador, or papal nuncio,” to listen to any complaint and, technically, inform Rome about it.
Two days after our conversation, Manila Bulletin published a report headlined “Priest in child abuse case yanked out of parish.” The unidentified priest was accused of molesting a four-year-old girl in Negros Occidental and removed from his parish by Bishop Gerardo Alminaza. “We are making it clear that we are not hiding the accused,” the good bishop said, adding that the priest will be given time “to spiritually prepare himself to face the allegations.”
As far as I can remember and considering the timeliness of the report so soon after the summit of 190 cardinals called by the Pope, the story is a first in the history of the local Church. Congratulations, Bishop, for not switching off the light bulb compliments of the Holy Spirit during your meditations. Likewise, it took guts for President Duterte to be the first and so far only victim to openly denounce a priest for molesting him when he was a student in Davao City.
Are there other victims? How many? Would they have to become president of the Philippines before they find the courage to speak up? ###