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Monday, June 17, 2024

3 priests enter poll race, lose pastoral duties

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Three Catholic priests in the Philippines – two in Bicol and one in Mindanao — have been permanently relieved of their pastoral and other priestly duties after they declared their intention to run for public office in the May 2022 elections, the Hong Kong-based Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) has said.

Quoting the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, UCAN identified the three as Father Noli Alparce of the Sorsogon Diocese and Father Granwell Pitapit of the Libmanan Diocese as well as Father Emergon Luego of the Tagum Diocese in Mindanao.

UCAN said the three had received decrees informing them of the sanction from their respective diocesan bishops, according to their statement issued on October 26.

The prelates were obliged by canon law to act against the three as priests “are prohibited from assuming public office which entails participation in the exercise of civil power,” the statement said.

Bishop Jose Rojas of the Libmanan Diocese described Pitapit’s decision to enter politics as a “sad event.”

“Father Granwell Pitapit decided to leave the priestly ministry and the priesthood for personal reasons,” UCAN quoted Bishop Rojas in his letter to parishioners.

“Consequently, this decision to enter politics means his priestly functions are hereby revoked. This is deemed irreversible, thus preventing him from returning to the priestly ministry.”

He said while the revocation was immediate, a priest could not “immediately” engage in marriage without undergoing a special process at the Vatican called laicization.

“Father Pitapit is now free, that is, without incurring further canonical censure, to engage in secular undertakings that do not necessarily violate his priestly vows,” Rojas said.

All three priests were also stripped of their roles in various Church agencies such as Caritas.

Alparce said he had filed his candidacy to run as a councilor in Albay province after much prayer and deep discernment.

“The first thing that I did was to pray. It was not easy. I also consulted my brother priests and, most importantly, I listened to my heart and conscience,” Alparce was quoted as telling reporters on Oct. 26.

He said he had informed his bishop about his decision who in return asked for a formal letter from him to commence “proper” procedures.

Luego quit the priesthood to run for mayor in Mabini, a town in Davao province.

All three priests ran the Caritas offices in their dioceses.

According to the CBCP, a Catholic priest gets permanently suspended from his clerical duties when he seeks election to a public office.

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