Cebu News

Priest accused of maltreating parishioners

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - A resident of Olango Island in Lapu-Lapu City is asking the Cebu Archdiocese to investigate a priest who has allegedly been maltreating parishioners.

The complainant, a woman, has sent a formal letter to Archbishop Jose Palma last December 14 and asked for the priest’s “immediate suspension.”

The Archdiocese would reportedly take action on her letter after the International Eucharistic Congress next month.

The most recent incident allegedly involving the priest, a 16-year-old altar boy told The Freeman, was afternoon on December 13 when the priest allegedly strangled and cursed him.

“Mga 3:20, after the Mass, niadto ko ni father og mihangyo nga dili nalang magpa-Christmas party kay muadto nalang mi sa Basilica kay gi-invite mi ni Fr. Jonas Mejias nga mu-serve didto,” he said.

The boy said he and his fellow altar boys could use the P1,000 – the combined allowance of more than 20 altar boys – they would get if they would serve at the Basilica for the Christmas Mass.

 The priest, however, allegedly got mad and slammed his fist on the table and held him in the neck. He also allegedly insisted that the Christmas Party at the parish should push through, considering that he has used his own money for it.

“Gibusdakan ko sa iyahang kamot, gituok og gihanaan ko sa iyahang kumo,” the altar boy said.

“Iyaha ko giingnan og ‘pisti ka, yawa ka, buang ka, mga mini mo, ayaw na pagsakristan, ayaw na pakita nako!,” the boy claimed.

 A member of a prominent family in Olango also told The Freeman she has seen the priest scold an altar boy during a funeral Mass. She said the priest’s behavior is “unholy.”

 “He was scolding them during the Mass. I don’t know maybe he is frustrated about their service or that the sacristans cannot cope up with him,” she said.

She said the priest’s actions were “not appropriate” because the Mass is supposed to be a sacred gathering.

“It was not in the right place to display emotions,” she added.

She said she has tried to keep her observations about the priest to herself, but she has also heard the same negative feedback from other parishioners.

“I heard three, five… During the Mass of my mother, I feel his unholiness. I was very disappointed. Frustrated, honestly. I gave him considerations two months ago but it became habitual,” Cynthia observed.

Last weekend, The Freeman attended a Mass the priest officiated and observed that he was calm and well-mannered. The altar boy would later say the priest behaved that way because the family for whom the Mass was offered is influential in the community. Had it been a regular Mass, the priest would allegedly not hesitate to scold churchgoers.

The altar boy said his mother even advised him to report the priest to a radio station but he is reportedly afraid of what the priest might do because of his “many connections.”

 “Di ba kung pari magpakita gyud ug maayong buhat? Siya wala,” the altar boy said.

The priest was assigned previously in the southern part of Cebu and assumed his post in Olango in February 2013. — /JMO (FREEMAN)













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