By: Isabella Marie A. Zerrudo
THE PARISH priest of St. Anne’s Parish in Molo, Iloilo City brought his grievances to the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome after Archbishop Angel Lagdameo assigned him to St. Anthony’s Parish in Barotac Nuevo.
In a press conference at the Iloilo Convention Center on Nov 28, 2017, Fr. Espiridion “Boy” Celis Jr. said he held private dialogues with Lagdameo to postpone his transfer to Barotac Nuevo but he claimed that the archbishop’s “ears were closed”.
“I presented the case as plainly, as lovingly, as quietly as possible, and it was just explaining to him (Lagdameo) why it was important to let me stay with my parishioners (in Molo) for a while. But, unfortunately, (his) ears were closed,” Celis said.
Celis said Lagdameo even dared him to bring the case to the Congregation of the Clergy, which the former did.
Celis justified his move by citing Canon 1737 of the Canonical Law which states that “a person who claims to have been aggrieved by a decree can make recourse for any just reason to the hierarchical superior of the one proposed before the author of the decree who must transmit it immediately to the competent hierarchical superior.”
The Canon Law is a code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church.
Labeled as disobedient for going against the orders of Lagdameo, Celis argued “if it’s disobedience, why is there a procedure for recourse against a superior’s decree?”
“If we are just going to blindly obey, bakit may Canon Law pa na nag-sasabi that a person who claims to be aggrieved by a decree can make recourse for any just reason to the hierarchical superior of the one who issued the decree?” he added.
In his official statement, Celis underscored that “there is a law” on how transfers of priests should be done.
When asked how long it will take for the Congregation take to resolve his predicament, Celis cited a similar case which lasted for three years.
‘WHAT ARE WE BEING STONED FOR?’
Celis said he only wanted to comply with the pleas of his parishioners who want him to stay longer in Molo after initiating various successful works in the parish such as establishing a Soup Kitchen feeding program for the poor, 24/7 confession services, weekly adult catechesis, Facebook live streaming of masses, among others.
Citing the Bible, Celis compared his situation to Jesus Christ who was about to be stoned by the Jews despite his good works.
“Like Christ, I would like to ask ‘what are we being stoned for’?” Celis said.
City Councilor Plaridel Nava was present in the press conference and expressed support for the priest.
Nava, along with other Molo parishioners, discussed Celis’ case with Lagdameo.
“We will protect the Church for as long as there is still a question as to the propriety and the clarity of this reshuffling. We will protect the Church and we asked the Archbishop, His Excellency Lagdameo, not to proceed with any attempt to (reshuffle Celis),” Nava said.
The reshuffling of priests is scheduled to take effect on Dec 3.
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