Fr. Obach’s act

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I DON'T know Redemptorist priest Romeo Obach from Adam. But with his recent conduct, he should not have been in a religious group. He was arrogant and cruel to a mother and her child. He sounded like a fish vendor hurling bad words at his competitor.

Obach humiliated a 17-year old single mother in front of her relatives and the sponsors of a baptismal ceremony held last Sunday in a chapel in Jagobiao, Mandaue City. A video on the incident has gone viral in social networking sites.

The mother’s fault was that she is not married to the child’s father, who didn’t attend the ceremony. Is that a mortal sin? Is it such a big transgression that a priest belonging to the Redemptorist congregation, which is known to be pro-poor, would act that way? Where was Fr. Obach's compassion and mercy?

If the priest already knew the status of the mother before the ceremony, he should have “sermoned” her alone and not humiliate her in the presence of other people.

Obach's words were insulting to the said mother and all unwed mothers who opted to bear illegitimate children rather than abort them.

The Roman Catholic religion is against abortion, that’s why it opposed the passage of the Reproductive Health Law. But if priests act like Obach, I think unwed mothers would rather abort the child they are carrying to avoid being humiliated in public.

Obach can be charged with verbal abuse. His attitude might also encourage the Catholic faithful to transfer to another religion.

Fr. Carmelo Diola of Dilaab Movement condemned Obach's conduct. In a text message sent to me, Diola said: “Fr. Obach does not represent the vast majority of the Roman Catholic priests in Cebu. Pope Francis baptized the baby of an unmarried couple. He even called priests who refuse to do so “hypocrites.”

Obach has gone beyond merely refusing to baptize. He should apologize to the whole Church of Cebu. He is an embarrassment to the Redemptorists, who otherwise have a solid reputation for the poor.”

It is also timely that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has come up with a statement regarding acts of mercy.

Bishop Maylo Hubert Vergara, chair of CBCP's social communication unit, said that “among the acts of mercy one can make everyday include reaching out to a lonely stranger, telling the story of Jesus to a child eager to understand and feel God's love, giving advice to a confused co-worker, giving food to a hungry beggar and forgiving someone who has wronged her or him.”

“You can show mercy by making it a habit to say 'please' and 'thank you' or a kind word of appreciation. Refraining from cursing and using hurting words is an act of mercy. Being polite to children and infants, to the sick and elderly are great acts of mercy.”

Feeling the heat of his act, Fr. Obach issued an apology yesterday acknowledging his mistake. He said:

“I am now making a public heartfelt apology to the mother of the child and her immediately family. The words I said and the rude attitude that I showed before I performed the rite of baptism last Sunday was indeed unbecoming. I deeply regret that I have done this. I only later realized how cruel my ways to educate and impart lessons for the said event.

“I am deeply sorry to the mother of the child, the relatives, the sponsors and the witnesses of the incident. I am sorry to the Internet viewers, to media listeners and viewers, for this mistake that I personally admit. I am deeply sorry and I humbly ask your forgiveness.”

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 09, 2014.

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