Perjury case by retired justice vs Dominican exorcist junked

Rommel F. Lopez - Philstar.com
Perjury case by retired justice vs Dominican exorcist junked
Fr. Winston Cabading, OP.
Screenshot from UST video via CBCP News

A perjury case filed by retired Justice Harriet Demetriou against Dominican theologian and exorcist Fr. Winston Cabading has been dismissed for "insufficiency of evidence".

In a ruling released on Tuesday, Makati Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Crystal Dei Embido-Buenaventura said Demetriou’s allegation that Cabading made a “willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood” in his Petition for Review dated May 27, 2023 to the Department of Justice (DOJ) has no basis since there is no proof or document to support her claims.

Demetriou charged Cabading for allegedly committing perjury when the priest executed and signed the following alleged false statements under oath:

  1. The existence of the March 29, 1951 decree of Pius XII that declares the 1948 Marian Apparitions at a Carmelite monastery in Lipa City, Batangas as “not of supernatural character”; and
  2. The existence of the 2015 Decree of the then Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) about the Lipa apparitions that was approved by Pope Francis himself on Dec. 11, 2015.

In his counter-affidavit, Cabading said that the existence of the 1951 Decree and the 2015 CDF Document “was duly established and proven”. He added that Demetriou’s “refusal to recognize the official issuances of the Catholic Church only shows her real design to harass” him.

Embido-Buenaventura said that what the Dominican priest wrote in his petition was based on what the Vatican officially stated and not based on his opinions.

The prosecutor added that the priest’s statement cannot be construed as “offensive to all the faithful devotees” like Demetriou, and should not be considered as “willful and deliberate assertions of falsehood” as alleged by Demetriou, a former justice of the Sandiganbayan and former chairperson of the Commission on Elections.

In a 2015 decree, Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, the then-prefect of the CDF reiterated the 1951definitive negative finding of the Vatican on the Lipa apparitions.

The same decree also mentioned that the then-Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has no authority over the matter effectively overruling Arguelles’s earlier controversial decree declaring the Lipa apparitions “worthy of belief”.

In July 2023, the Vatican ordered the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to stop any activity celebrating the 75th anniversary of the alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary in in Lipa.

The then-Prefect of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Cardinal Ladaria, S.J wrote to CBCP president and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David saying it “would not be advisable” for David as president of the CBCP to authorize “under any form” the celebration of the alleged apparition’s 75th anniversary.

Ladaria mentioned the 1951 Decree of Pius XII that declared the alleged apparitions in Lipa to have no supernatural character or origin.

“When this Dicastery became aware of the persistent confusion and false notions deriving from erroneous and inaccurate information relating to its decision of 1951, it reaffirmed its decision with the Decree of December 11, 2015,” Ladaria said.

Cabading was arrested and briefly detained from May 13 to 15, 2023, for "offending religious feelings." The arrest stems from Demetriou’s charge that Cabading has offended her religious feelings for being a “rabid critic of Our Lady, Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace”, the name reported to have been said by the Mother of Christ to Teresita Castillo, a former Carmelite postulant in the Lipa monastery. 

The case is being tried by Judge Madonna Echiverri of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81.

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