According to Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, head of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, a priest who sired a child cannot be rehabilitated. "No matter how you assist this priest, that child remains and he has a natural obligation towards the child."Well, there is one way I can think of. This might go against Catholic morality and one of the commandments, or something, but it would solve the problem. Something like that, yeah.
Those numbers don't seem too bad. He does have a good point, though. It's the slippery slope of priestly discipline. Although everyone knows what is right and wrong, if the wrong is accepted by silence, and not punished by authority, there could be a view of "Oh, I guess it's not that bad. I didn't kill a guy."
In Archbishop Cruz's view, bishops who "overlook" or "just forgive" misconduct by their clergy face problems. If one priest is "allowed to misbehave" and continue in the ministry, "there will be more," the prelate warned, expressing concern about tolerance sending a "wrong signal" to seminarians.
In the northern Philippine archdiocese he has led for 16 years, "about 17 priests have left because there's a woman, there's a child or there's a boyfriend," the prelate said Aug. 3 at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Manila.
This only demonstrates what a problem people see this as. So much so that we need to cover it up.
Archbishop Cruz, however, said he could "only guess" the total number of priests with children. In the Catholic Directory of the Philippines, the former CBCP president noted, most dioceses list inactive priests who have fathered children among priests "on leave," "with no assignment" and other categories.
So, one is not enough. "Oh, so you just fathered one child out of wedlock, and therefore we can only confirm that you violated your priestly vows once, so I suppose we should give you a break, right." I would be interested to know what the ratio of number of priests who have more than one child to the number with at least one child. I would guess it is high enough to justify requiring any priests found to be fathers in the biological sense to be removed from active ministry, then laicized. (Note here, this priest is still a priest, and is able to exercise the priestly ministry, though would be barred from that.)
Meanwhile, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Clergy, has acknowledged most bishops are "not of the punitive school of thought."
At the Aug. 15 inauguration of John Mary Vianney-Galilee Development and Retreat Center southeast of Manila, he told UCA News: "Thank God the bishops of the Philippines did not advocate the 'one-strike-you're out' policy." Instead, the CBCP "accepted" the position that the church should give "fallen" priests "help" to "repair the man (and) help him repent."
The commission maintains a priest with one child can undergo "curative measures," the cardinal said. "Singular events" may spell a "weakness" that can be treated "pastorally," and which can be healed through "a program that encourages a person to be better rather than just punishing him," he elaborated.
However, he stressed, a priest with more than one child is helped to leave the ministry. Moreover, "the church is very strict about those who have abused, who repeatedly hurt or take advantage of people."
The pastor of my parish at the end of my high school years left the priesthood for this reason. Word was he was either an expecting father, or actually had a child. Supposedly he ended up getting married, though legally, not in the Church. This was quite a strange situation for our parish. The mass, under him, lost "the sense of the holy". He didn't even reverence the blessed sacrament after the consecration, like he should have.
I think that the Bishops need to be serious about sexual discipline in their priests. Sexual chastity and priestly celibacy is of the utmost importance. When this is neglected, you get the diocese of Los Angeles settling a bazillion sexual abuse cases and all but bankrupting.