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Retired priests in Manila find haven in Welcome Home

February 28, 2013 2:57pm
Cardinal Sin's Welcome Home in the compound of Our Lady of Loreto Parish Church in Sampaloc, Manila is home to many priests after they have retired from active service.

Set up by the late cardinal, the residence has two elevators, a reading room, and a gym. Each room also has its own bathroom, to ensure the comfort of its elderly inhabitants.

"Nakikita ni Cardinal Sin na 'yung mga pari na nagre-retire rin ay halos wala na silang kapatid, kamag-anak, wala na silang pagkukunan para sa ikabubuhay nila sa kanilang retirement, kaya naisip niya ito," the retirement home's director Msgr. Vicente Dacuycuy said in a report by GMA News' Saleema Refran on Balitanghali Thursday.

While the idea of the Pope retiring sent shockwaves around the world—many people weren't even aware that a pope could resign, or retire—the Church's Canon Law actually provides for the retirement of priests.

The Balitanghali report quoted the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law, which says a pastor may apply for retirement once he reaches the age of 75.

"When a pastor has completed seventy-five years of age, he is requested to submit his resignation from office to the diocesan bishop who is to decide to accept or defer it after he has considered all the circumstances of the person and place," stipulates Canon 538.

The diocese where the priest served must now provide support and housing for him, it added.

Retired priests like Monsignor Alfredo Rodriguez, who served 16 years as rector of Colegio Filipino in the Vatican, are now staying at the Welcom Home in Manila, the report said.

Rodriguez, now bedridden with Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases and diabetes, has been looked after by a caregiver for the past eight years, it added.

Forever a priest

Fr. Francis Lucas, CBCP's Episcopal Commission executive secretary, says that retirement does not necessarily mean a pastor stops being a priest.

"'Yung priesthood nga, tatak ka forever. Hanggang mamatay ka, pari pa rin," he said.

Though a priest forfeits his responsibility and authority over his parish when he retires, he may still perform sacraments.

"Wala ka nang pananagutan at kapangyarihan doon sa parokyang iyon," said Lucas. "'Yung mga sacrament, kung may magpapakumpisal, okay 'yon."

The Pope's new home

At 8 p.m. Rome time (3 a.m. on March 1 in the Philippines), Pope Benedict XVI's resignation becomes official.

Upon stepping down, the Pope will take up temporary residence at Castel Gandolfo for two months before moving into a refurbished convent in the Vatican Gardens, where he will live in prayer and study.

In retirement, Benedict XVI will be accompanied by his secretary and a few housekeepers from a lay religious order. Amanda Fernandez/BM/YA, GMA News
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