Faith and Spirituality

Filipino exorcists back priest in ‘offending religious feelings’ case

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Filipino exorcists back priest in ‘offending religious feelings’ case

SUED. Father Winston Cabading, a Dominican exorcist priest, faces an 'offending religious feelings' case filed by former justice Harriet Demetriou.

Screenshot from UST video

Mary’s reported Lipa apparition in 1948 is ‘not from God and hence, not worthy of belief,’ says top Filipino exorcist Father Jocis Syquia in defense of Father Winston Cabading

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino exorcists came to the aid of their beleaguered colleague, Dominican priest Father Winston Cabading, as he faces an “offending religious feelings” case filed by retired justice Harriet Demetriou.

In a statement on Friday, May 26, the Philippine Association of Catholic Exorcists (PACE) said that Cabading “is one of our own” and “has served faithfully in the very difficult ministry of exorcism for many years in the Archdiocese of Manila.” The group said Cabading has also “given his entire life” to preaching the Catholic faith, proving himself “a true shepherd.”

“We therefore stand with Father Winston Cabading, OP, in his obedience and union with the Pope and the Philippine bishops of the Catholic Church with regard to this issue,” said Father Jose Francisco “Jocis” Syquia, secretary-general of PACE, adding that the statement “is with the permission and blessing” of Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula.

Syquia, the best-known Catholic exorcist from the Philippines, is director and chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Office of Exorcism and is also commissioner of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Commission on Extraordinary Phenomena. 

PACE, an affiliate of the Vatican-approved International Association of Exorcists in Rome, is the latest group to issue a statement in support of Cabading.

Demetriou, a former elections chief and a former justice of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, sued Cabading for violating a 1930s law that penalizes “offending religious feelings.” This led to the arrest of Cabading on May 13, a Saturday, putting him in detention until Monday, May 15. 

Why an exorcist priest was arrested for ‘offending religious feelings’

Why an exorcist priest was arrested for ‘offending religious feelings’

If convicted, the 57-year-old Dominican priest – a theology instructor at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where he once served as secretary-general and vice rector – faces up to two years and four months in prison.

‘Not worthy of belief’

Demetriou filed a case against Cabading for being a “rabid critic of Our Lady, Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace,” a Marian title associated with a reported 1948 apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary before a Carmelite postulant in Lipa, Batangas.

The Vatican and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have repeatedly said there is nothing supernatural about the reported Lipa apparition, but devotees like Demetriou have questioned such statements by the church hierarchy.

Syquia said Cabading has helped “clarify confusion, dispel doubts, and answer questions” about the reported apparition in Lipa. 

“He did this challenging task always careful to remain one with the mind and stand of the Church (CBCP, the Vatican/CDF, Pope Pius XII, and Pope Francis), which has made a definitive (final and therefore closed) verdict that ruled that the alleged apparition in the Carmelite Monastery is not supernatural in character and origin, that is, not from God and hence, not worthy of belief,” Syquia said.

The Dominicans of Caleruega, a retreat center with a church that is popular for Catholic weddings, also released a statement of support for Cabading, who is also the superior of their Dominican house.

“We, the Dominicans of the Saint Mary Magdalene House, Nasugbu, Batangas, express our oneness with our bishops, and all who in communion and united with them, preach the Truth. We unite likewise our voice to that of our brother, Father Winston Cabading, and all the Catholic faithful, who in charity are obedient to the Church, calling the flock to heed the voice of their shepherds to be guided by them to the safe path,” the Dominicans of Caleruega said. 

In a statement sent to Rappler, Cabading himself asserted his innocence, stating: “The case filed against me all boils down to the fact that some people do not want to accept the judgment of the Church that the apparition is not worthy of belief.” He stressed that “the case is closed.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email