Church workers, officials attest to monsignor’s piety, generosity-A A +A
Friday, September 28, 2012
A GOOD friend, generous and dedicated to the promotion of the faith—these were the words that some priests and church workers use to describe Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, who is facing an investigation by the Vatican in relation to a 20-year-old sexual abuse case.
“Cris provides a sense of continuity to deeply cherished religious traditions. His deep commitment to Sinulog, for instance, was a positive factor to the celebrations,” said Fr. Carmelo Diola, Dilaab Foundation Inc. overall steward.
Diola said it was Garcia who was behind the creation of a website for the Friends of Pedro Foundation Inc. in 2000, leading to the formation of Dilaab in 2007.
“He is a good friend who is ready to help,” he added.
Garcia, former Archdiocesan Commission on Worship chairman and founder of the Society of the Angels of Peace (SAP), was suspended by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma upon the directive of the Holy See, which is investigating a more than two decades’ old accusation that he had sexual relations with two altar boys in the United States.
In Cebu, Garcia is known for his expertise on liturgical services and collection of religious images. His collection of ivory, silver and porcelain religious statues have been displayed in several Lenten exhibits.
Canon lawyer Msgr. Raul Go said Garcia, in secular terms, is under an administrative leave because of the ongoing investigation.
He cited the late Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter on norms concerning more grave offenses. “If he is not in Cebu, it is not a punishment. It is part of a procedure, and Archbishop Palma had to implement it,” Go told Sun.Star Cebu.
“It is supposed to be temporary. The process is ongoing and there is no judgment yet from Rome,” he said.
Go said cases like the one Garcia is involved in have a prescription of 10 years, or can no longer be acted on after the victim turns 18 years old.
Archdiocesan Commission on Cultural Heritage of the Church chairman Msgr. Carlito Pono said Garcia’s suspension is a loss to the archdiocese, citing his (Garcia’s) contribution to the updating of the church liturgy.
Fr. Dodong Desuyo, the parish priest of Our Lady of Remedies parish church in Barangay Odlot, Bogo City, said that Garcia “is a mentor in liturgy ... a person with extra-large heart for others.”
Candle vendors remember Garcia as the prayer leader during the Sinulog procession.
Fr. Jonald Concha invites others to pray “for his health and this ordeal.”
The only parish in Cebu named after the first Visayan martyr Blessed Pedro Calungsod was approved by Msgr. Garcia, said its parish priest Fr. Russell Sungcad.
“He also gave us the first image of Beato Pedro, a replica of the image brought to Rome during his beatification last March 2000,” Sungcad said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2012.