New CBCP head tells priests, nuns: Repent

MANILA, Philippines – Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles urged priests and nuns to repent from "frailty and scandals" as he issued his first statement as president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Valles released this statement on Sunday, December 3, the opening of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons in the Philippine Catholic Church. It was also the first Sunday of Advent, the start of a new Catholic year.

Valles, who assumed office on Friday, December 1, talked about the "bright lights" and "dark shadows" among the clergy, or bishops and priests, and consecrated persons, or nuns and religious brothers. 

The Davao archbishop said the "bright lights" include priests who "faithfully celebrate the sacraments daily in the busy urban areas and in the distant and lonely barangays," as well as those who "have started working for the rehabilitation of drug dependents." 

He also cited the experience of Father Teresito Soganub, who was rescued from the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City. Soganub, said Valles, "almost lost his life caring for his parishioners caught in the crossfires of war." (READ: Marawi priest Chito Soganub speaks of 'one God' for Christians, Muslims

Referring to these "bright lights," Valles said, "They make us hopeful for tomorrow."

"On the other hand, the bright lights undeniably go at times with some dismal shadows, brought about by some of our clergy and consecrated persons themselves. There were occasions of frailty and scandals that sadden us. Such misconduct calls for sincere reflection and humble repentance and reparation," Valles said. 

Valles replaced Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who ended his second and final term as CBCP president on November 30. 

Valles' statement comes as the Catholic Church faces sexual and financial scandals around the world, including the Philippines.

The Philippine Catholic Church is marking the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons to prepare for the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines by 2021. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of 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 him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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