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Cebu priest in shaming video faces probe, sanctions from religious order

July 8, 2014 2:03pm
A priest who was caught on video shaming a single mother before the baptism of her baby in Cebu last Sunday now faces an investigation and sanctions from his own religious order.
In a statement, the Congregatio Redemptoris said it was deeply saddened over the incident at the Sacred Heart Chaplaincy in Mandaue City involving Fr. Romeo Obach.
The order, speaking through media liaison Fr. Alfonso Suico Jr., also noted the video of the incident had gone viral over social media.
"An INTERNAL INVESTIGATION is underway. Rest assured that appropriate SANCTIONS on the part of the involved will be applied once the investigation is complete so that justice may prevail," the order said.
It added that as a religious community, it does not condone such an act, which it branded "unacceptable."
Such an act is "contrary to the Charism and Mission for which our Congregation was founded – compassion especially to the poor and the most abandoned," it added.
Obach himself had issued an apology over the matter, while Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' commission on family and life executive secretary Fr. Melvin Castro was quoted on GMA News TV's "News to Go" as saying that "if this really happened, it is uncalled for."
Apologies to the mother, kin
The order also extended its "heartfelt apology" to the single mother and her family.
"We will reach out the aggrieved family at the appropriate and most opportune time to address this particular matter. We respect their situation at the moment and sympathize with their hurt and anger over this matter," it said.
The order said the Redemptorist Community has always upheld the rights of the poor and disenfranchised since its first missionaries arrived in Cebu in 1906.
It branded the incident involving Obach as "unfortunate," noting he has been "a good missionary for many years."
Obach served in many capacities and various places heeding the challenges of the congregation, but "is also human and prone to lapse of judgment and imprudence," it added.
Pastor's role
For now, the order appealed for calm and sobriety from everyone as it tries "to assess both the outcome of the investigation of our confrere and at the same time reach out to the family."
But it also said the incident should be a reminder to those in the religious life and the clergy of their role as pastors.
"(W)e are called to serve and not be served and to offer our lives for all (cf. Mt. 20:28). On behalf of the Redemptorist Community of Cebu, we extend our sincere and humble apologies," it said. - Joel Locsin, JST, GMA News
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