Catholic Church

‘A blinding addiction’: Mindanao bishop slams priests’ lavish lifestyles

Ferdinand Zuasola

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‘A blinding addiction’: Mindanao bishop slams priests’ lavish lifestyles

REBUKE. Bishop Moises Cuevas of the Diocese of Zamboanga delivers a stinging message during a convention of hundreds of priests in Davao Oriental.

captured from Diocese of Mati video

'We need the healing of our blindness, because if we are blind, we cannot move forward as frontliners of the faith,' Zamboanga Bishop Moises Cuevas tells priests during a convention

DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – A Catholic bishop didn’t mince words as he publicly called out erring priests for their lavish lifestyles during their convention, a scathing rebuke that highlighted a simmering issue within the Church that was being kept in the shadows.

The Most Reverend Bishop Moises Cuevas, the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Zamboanga, delivered a powerful message in Davao Oriental, pointing out the “addiction that blinded our priests who are the frontliners of the faith.” 

Local spectators, who followed the three-day convention through local TV, radio stations, and social media platforms run by the Diocese of Mati, were stunned by Cuevas’ frank sermon. 

The Catholic convention was held at Mati City’s Techno Park from February 14 to 16, and was hosted by Mati Bishop Abel Apigo. It aimed to strengthen the unity and evangelical mission of Catholic priests in Mindanao.

Cuevas cited the case of a priest under his diocese who, he said, bought at least five motorcycles, which he found to be an inappropriate display of wealth for a member of the clergy. 

He said the priest handed him an envelope containing money in front of other clergymen after he officiated a Mass during a fiesta. Cuevas said he politely refused the envelope and told the priest to keep it because he needed money more for the maintenance of his motorcycles. 

He said the priest then told him that he planned to dispose of the motorcycles. 

“I told him to simply get rid of the girls he allowed to ride on his motorcycles with him,” Cuevas said.

He said many priests nowadays have lifestyles that were inconsistent with their vocation.

Cuevas urged his fellow priests to give themselves fully to God, without keeping a part for themselves. 

He said drawing a line between what is offered to God and what is kept for oneself creates a distinction that can lead to a burden and ultimately cause blindness. 

“There is a big problem already when we are blinded. When we are blinded, we are running selfishly. The more we run after them (vices), the blinder we become,” the bishop said on the second day of the convention.

Cuevas added, “To be the living sacrifice, to give everything to God, we need the healing of our blindness, because if we are blind, we cannot move forward as frontliners of the faith.”

The bishop also stressed the importance of unity and the need for the clergy to embody the teachings of their faith.

Retired public school teacher Teofilo Gregorio Sr. said Cuevas’ sermon was a healthy and constructive criticism that was meant to strengthen the Church and the Catholic faith.

The 79-year-old Gregorio said Catholic leaders need to continue to point out the flaws of their fellow clergymen so that measures would be in place to address them.

“Just like us, members of the clergy are flawed. By acknowledging our mistakes and sins, we can learn many precious lessons,'” he said. –

Ferdinand Zuasola is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

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