Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla on Monday asked his flock to forgive one of the priests in the archdiocese who had been married in the past but has since regretted his act.
Capalla issued a statement seeking "compassion and forgiveness" for Fr. Pedro Lamata, after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte disclosed on television that he [Lamata] was a married priest.
"As the spiritual father of all the Catholics in Davao City including my friend Mayor Digong and my priest Fr. Pete as well as others who might be in a similar situation, I would like to appeal for compassionate reconciliation, that is, to forgive and to receive forgiveness," Capalla's statement read.
Excerpts of the statement were posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.
Capalla issued the statement after Duterte said on his television program last weekend that Lamata, now the parish priest of St. Mary's Church in Buhangin district, was married.
The archbishop said Lamata had contracted civil marriage with a woman as a young priest, but has long repented for what he had done.
He said a priest contracting marriage is a serious violation against the Code of Canon Law that merits automatic suspension from the ministry.
Capalla said Lamata had already been suspended from his priestly ministry because of what he did, but has since repented and restored to priestly ministry.
"Since that time until today, like a wounded healer Fr. Pedro Lamata has been a dedicated and energetic priest and pastor, well-loved and respected by many people especially his parishioners and friends, even from among the Muslims and Protestants," Capalla said.
Capalla learned of Lamata's case when he succeeded Archbishop Antonio Mabutas as the Davao archbishop.
He stressed that forgiveness is "being recommended not immediately but when both are predisposed for this Christian act."
"Forgiveness is given and received not to deny the Church's moral teachings—which must be preached boldly—but to admit the possible misinterpretation and misinformation that followed certain public utterances," he added.
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, GMANEWS