On the publicizing dismissal of a priest
TACLOBAN CITY-Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez insisted that he did nothing wrong in publicizing a notice of the defrocking of one of his priests, Fr. Pio Aclon.
The prelate, through his lawyer Collen Calleja, said that he did not commit any violation or put the dismissed priest in public ridicule when an ‘informationis causa’was posted on the social media account of the Borongan Diocese on September 17.
This information, posted through the chancellor of the diocese, Fr. James Abella, was not only picked up by the media but was even shared by social media users.
While the notice did not specify the reason for the expulsion of Aclon, a news article from the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reported that the dismissal was due to an allegation of sexual abuse.
Aclon served at the diocese minor seminary.
The beleaguered priest, in his letter to the bishop through his lawyer Delyen Madula of the Madula Law Office based in Paranaque City on Sept.18, said that the action of the bishop was malicious or slanderous as he also demanded that the notice from Pope Francis dismissing him from his priestly obligations be furnished to him.
“Firstly, on the matter of the Informationis Causa, there is nothing libelous or slanderous about the notice. It is an information to the public on a matter of fact- that the priest in question has been laicized,” Calleja said in her letter addressed to Aclon through his lawyer dated September 25.
Calleja, in the same two-page letter, insisted that there was no malice on the part of Bishop Varquez to publicize the dismissal order.
“Our client acted on his canonical duty to inform the public of the Vatican’s decision by issuing the Informationis Causa. He acted based on the existence and truth of the Vatican documents regarding the dismissal of Mr. Aclon from the clerical state, hence, malice cannot be imputed against him,” the lawyer added.
Calleja also stressed that the letter from the Vatican dismissing Aclon should not be made public as it falls on the category of a ‘private communication.’
“The letter in question is a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the bishop. Hence, it is a private communication. The discipline of the Church treats with confidentiality communication between the Holy See and the Ordinaries or bishops,” the lawyer said.
Calleja, in the same letter, disclosed that as early as 2020, the same notice was supposed to be served to Fr. Aclon but his whereabouts were unknown as he was said to have ‘hidden’ in Manila and refused to accept it.
In another informationis causa issued by Fr. Abella, he also defended Bishop Varquez in dismissing Aclon.
“Under the Canon Law, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Borongan has the obligation and power to inform the people of God about Mr.Aclon’s dismissal, hence, the publication of the Informationis Causa on 17 September 2023,” he said in his letter issued on Wednesday (Sept.27).
JOEY A. GABIETA