IN reaction to the columns I wrote about a priest in the Cebu Archdiocese who allegedly amassed wealth following his assignment in a Mandaue City parish, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma urged the parishioners to file their grievances to him directly.

In a SunStar Cebu report last Thursday, Palma said, “How I wish that if there are complaints, these would be directly addressed to me. I will really make an effort to have it investigated.” He added that if a complaint is lodged and the priest is found guilty, the priest would be be disciplined. He does not pamper erring priests, he added.

The issue was also comprehensively discussed in this paper’s editorial yesterday titled, “Archbishop Palma’s call.”

We cannot blame an aggrieved person or the concerned public if they will go to the media instead of raising their complaints and concerns to proper authorities. May be they do so out of fear of reprisal. They don’t know, for example, if the police are protecting the illegal activities of a subject person.

Why would a concerned taxpayer report anomalies in government or an abusive conduct of a public official to the media instead of to the proper authorities? Because they are assured of immediate action, with the media’s continuous and persistent followups of the issue.

Victims of human rights violations and other forms of harassment will report to the media first before going to the proper authorities. This is not to pull our chair, but media plays a vital role not only in information dissemination but also in doing genuine public service. That’s why media is called the fourth estate or the Department of Last Resort.

In the case of the priest, what Palma would expect from the people who raised this issue? The parishioners went to the media because they could not expect swift action by the church hierarchy. Maybe they heard the frustrations of other parishioners whose complaints were left unacted by the Church hierarchy.

How many complaints has Palma received about the questionable and abusive conduct of priests? How many did he fail to resolve? Mind you, some of these complaints were properly documented through petitions and position papers signed by the parishioners. In fact, some complainants sought an audience with him.

Did Palma act on the complaint against Fr. Fulton Varga of Sibonga who was a subject of a complaint by his parishioners? Neighbors of another priest in Toledo complained because he constructed a wall between the church and the residences of his parishioners denying them an access road? Did he impose discipline on priests who have girlfriends, are active homosexuals or have children? They were instead assigned to big parishes.

I know Palma is aware of the issue about this priest who allegedly amassed wealth under mysterious circumstances because he is subject of a “gossip” within the church community. What was he done? Since this issue has been raised by the media, can we expect an investigation on this priest? Imagine owning seven vehicles? Oh, my God.