Carvajal: Unacceptable behavior from a priest

Break Point
SunStar Carvajal
SunStar Carvajal

This is one column I wish I didn’t have to write but which I must if I am to be true to my avocation as a journalist and mouthpiece of the voiceless. I wish I wasn’t but I was begged for help by a group of people who have been going through days and nights of extreme anxiety over threats of eviction. They are in fear of a Catholic priest, head of a religious order no less, that has been threatening them with eviction from their homes for wrongs the priest refuses to specify much less give them a chance to correct.

As this goes to press 160 members of San Pio Homeowners Association in Dumlog, Talisay City, would be finishing their novena to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless cases. They feel hopeless yet are admirably holding back anger by praying that St. Jude would move the priest to respect their right to be told what wrongs they have done that cannot be corrected and forgiven as to make them the target of his threats of eviction.

Most of the members have in their possession LPAs (Lease Purchase Agreements) with JPIC (Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation) that this priest heads and which took over management of the village from Bethlehem Daycare Foundation. They also have the receipts of their payments as agreed in the signed LPAs. But then inexplicably, JPIC began refusing to accept their payments. The problem is the priest doesn’t tell them why, only that he must evict them from their homes for wrong-doings he refuses to specify and which, therefore, they cannot rectify.

Anybody can see this is unacceptable behavior, least of all from a priest. But because they don’t want any more trouble than they’ve had in pursuing their legal rights, they are not only storming heaven with prayers but have also sent a letter to the priest’s superior general in Germany asking for his help in making the priest give them due process by telling them what violations of the LPA they have committed and give them a chance to rectify them.

They know their rights and they are ready with legal and peaceful alternative courses of action in the pursuit of these rights. What amazes me about them, which makes me want to help, is how they collectively refuse to succumb to hatred and anger towards the priest. They cried unabashedly as they related to me their frustration at having to run to St. Jude when all they want is, in their words, “for our right to security of tenure to be respected, for harmony in our community to be restored and for San Pio Village to become a model Christian Community with the concerned priest as our good shepherd.”

Usually it’s the priest who prays for his people. This time a whole community is doing a novena to St. Jude for the head of a justice and peace agency, head of a religious order, man of God and shepherd of a Christian community to respect their right at least to be heard both as citizens of the Philippines and as children of God.

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