TANDAG CITY, SURIGAO DEL SUR – It is an open secret that many priests of the Diocese of Tandag are no longer living celibate chastity. A number of cases are publicly known that one might say that most diocesan priests either don’t believe in celibacy anymore or have given up the struggle to be chaste. The hallowed ‘priestly image’ is now a thing of the past. Scandal after scandal involving priests continues unabated prompting many Catholics to express concern over the rampant immoral acts.
As people become more enlightened, there will be a crisis of faith, perhaps a sudden collapse, with many leaving the Catholic church either to join other churches or to become agnostics, especially in the highly educated middle class.
If the number of catholic priests of the Diocese of Tandag who are sexually active or have families and children will leave priesthood, there will be a massive shortage of priests to perform masses. Almost everywhere we hear of unedifying stories of priests ‘sexploits’ and other form of vices that puts to shame the exploits of ordinary men engaged in the same vices. These stories are told as anecdotes, gossips and by media. They are told within the parishes and beyond. They are told at home in families, in schools, in barbershops and hair salons and in public markets.
And what is being talked about? Priests’ secret and not so secret liaisons with girls and women, coerced sex with housemaids, with students, with relatives; priests ‘wives’ set up in well furnished homes; priests involved with a parishioner’s wife; of priests romantically involved with nuns; priests offering money for sex and so on… A fair number of priests children are scattered around the province and beyond who are carefully hidden from view and these children are forced to call their father-priests as ‘uncle’ to hide the ugly truth from the prying eye of the public.
Apologists and defenders of priests argue that they are also people and therefore vulnerable to worldly sins. True, but they should have thought about it before they decided to enter priesthood. Unlike ordinary mortals, priests are placed in a higher plane or pedestal and are therefore expected to act accordingly. It is hard for people to reconcile expectations with facts when a number of priests have sexual relationship with multiple women at the same time. Moreso, when priests have multiple children from different women. What is worse is that they have done and are still doing it using church money collected from the faithful. Talk of the faithful financing the unfaithful ways of men of faith!
A religious parishioner from Tandag City who refused to be identified disclosed that there seems to be a culture of deception and silence within the diocese of Tandag. The priests are trying to project and portray a hallowed image when the same is clearly contradicted by what is on the ground. The sin of deception is of course not tenable for much longer. There is an ominous and unhealthy conspiracy of silence about these matters among the Tandag diocesan clergy and the faithful alike. The laity, for all their good will, is also co-opted into this unwholesome silence, sometimes for lack of information, sometimes because they believe that they have some ‘moral’ duty to be loyal to an imperfect church. In truth, their silence shores up and encourage the sins of priests and destroy many lives.
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