MANILA—A retired Catholic prelate said it would be good if bishops and priests will initiate in filing cases against erring members of the clergy.
Lingayen-Dagupan emeritus Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who is also the Judicial Vicar of the Dispensation Section of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) believed that filing of cases by clergy members against their peers will help cleanse their ranks.
“Each diocese, as a rule, it is automatic that they have a tribunal that can work on that. There is a tribunal that knows how to process this and that case filed against a priest or the priest himself files for it,” he said.
Cruz noted that there are two types of sanctions for members of the clergy who violated their vows, asked for dispensation from clerical obligation or dismissal from clerical state.
“One is the priest himself who violates his obligations to celibacy, he can ask for it. that is called dispensation from clerical obligations. The other one is dismissal from clerical state,” he explained.
With this, the former CBCP president reported that there is an increase in the number of priests who filed voluntary dispensation, but he did not give an exact figure.
“Yes tumaas yung voluntary. I am talking only what I know. What is happening in different diocese, I don’t know the numbers,” he said, adding that, “Basta ang tumaas ang dispensation.”
Cruz noted that the three effects if clergy members will not follow the call to cleanse the Catholic Church namely: people/laity will be scandalized, other members of the clergy become disoriented, and seminarians are deformed.
Asked if there are more cases filed against priests during the administration of Duterte, he said, “There is no difference before or during Duterte.”
At the same time, the retired Catholic prelate said that there is a good side on the attack of the President against the Catholic Church.
“It is a golden age for the church for this times to do self cleansing. I think this is a very positive issue when the President attacks the clergy with two wives etc etc. Of course it is painful. But if it is painful, what can you do?! The bishops should be now more attentive. You just don’t keep your eyes closed to these matters. If you do, they will be more,” he added.
As the judicial vicar of the CBCP’s Dispensation Section, Cruz is handling dismissal cases filed against priests.