TACLOBAN City, July 5, 2015 -– The role of our priests is to accompany people: where the lay are, there they should be – but without scandal.
This in essence was Palo Archbishop John Du’s reaction to the issue that some consecrated men, such as priests and deacons, in various dioceses in the country have given in to the temptation of the flesh and sometimes renege on theirs vow of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
Worse allegations against the clergy include sexual abuse, pedophilia, and illicit affairs that lead to the siring of children.
Beyond human desires
Admitting though that these allegations could possibly be happening in churches across the globe, the chief prelate of the Archdiocese of Palo stressed that priests should “go beyond their human desires, lest they [fail].”
“Priests commit mistakes but how you handle your frailties is another thing,” he said, explaining that “sometimes they become immature, turn their backs [on God] and do not face the consequences” of what they have done.
Erring clergy “should be humble enough to accept that they have done wrong and start all over again,” he said.
In scandalous situations where priests are publicly seen with “their families” through illicit relationships, the bishop can impose sanctions on them, disallowing them from celebrating the Holy Eucharist. According to Du, never should there be an instance that a priest who is in a such a relationship be allowed to say Mass.
Power of prayer
Bishop-elect Oscar Jaime Florencio advises the clergy not to heed the dictates of fleshly desires that could lead them to defy their vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
“If you really are a man of prayer, conscious of who you are, you should avoid falling in love with a woman or you will be inconsistent with your priesthood,” he said, further emphasizing that priests have promised to deny their selves of fleshly desires and have prepared themselves for this (call).
A good safeguard he said is for priests to remain “very prayerful” and to be on guard against temptations of the flesh.
Du warns members of the clergy in illicit relationships that although at the moment, they have escaped the sanctions of the bishop by being discreet in their affairs, they will remain answerable to God. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)