Running priest: Church must address scandals

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SAN PABLO CITY—It’s reality and it hurts.

But even so, activist priest Robert Reyes said the scandal plaguing the Catholic Church is an issue that the clergy must not deal with “emotionally or sentimentally” but rather by studying and talking to the parties involved before any sanction is taken.

Although he called it “irrelevant” to the reproductive health (RH) law, Reyes said the “Team Tatay” is an ugly result of the “Team Patay/Team Buhay” fiasco that the Church itself had created.

“Team Tatay” started as a text message that named five Bacolod priests who had allegedly been unfaithful to their vow of celibacy by fathering children. It also discouraged the faithful from attending Masses celebrated by these priests.

The message started circulating last week as a response to the Team Patay/Team Buhay tarpaulins that the Bacolod diocese first hanged outside its cathedral. The Team Patay tarpaulin listed senatorial candidates and party-list groups who favored the RH legislation and asked voters not to support them in the May elections. On the other hand, the tarpaulins campaigned for support for the senatorial candidates, branded as members of Team Buhay, who rejected the RH law.

“I was talking to Risa (Hontiveros) and totally agreed with her. She was telling me: What happens to the children of these priests? To these women, who whether consented [to the act] or were victims [by the priests]? People will try to find out who they are and brand them,” Reyes said on the sidelines of a “prayer run” for clean politics held on Wednesday here.

He spoke to Hontiveros, a senatorial candidate on Team Patay, on the phone after leading a 3.5-kilometer run around Sampaloc Lake.

“Are they just collateral damages? No, they are persons equally affected by this ‘black and white’ thing,” Reyes said of the priests’ children and their mothers.

Reyes called Team Patay/Team Buhay as a “divisive campaign” of the church. “It’s as if you’re painting reality in black and white—we are prolife and you in ‘Team Patay’ are not,” he said.

“Those on Team Buhay are not even entirely clean. Some of them are guilty of crimes against life but in another aspect. [In that sense,] the church is coddling criminals,” he added, however, without naming names.

Those listed under Team Buhay were Joseph Victor Ejercito Estrada, Antonio Trillanes IV, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar.

Reyes said he is not proabortion but supported the RH law for its provisions on women’s rights and health. “The RH [law] is not about death,” he said.

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