Archbishop Florentino Lavarias of San Fernando banned a Catholic priest from performing religious duties in public following the discovery of a video on social media linking the priest to an adulterous relationship.
In a statement, the prelate said the Archdiocese of San Fernando “reserves the right to take appropriate actions as a more thorough investigation progresses after the receipt of a formal complaint from the concerned party.”
Archbishop Lavarias assured the Catholic faithful in the province of Pampanga, north of Manila, that the Church “continues to reach out to the parties concerned to have a better appreciation of the situational canvass.”
He said “the ultimate objective” of the investigation is to seek the truth “and the offering of pastoral guidance and support.”
The prelate also clarified that the priest is not yet suspended because “suspension is a removal of faculties.” He said the priest can still celebrate Mass in private while the investigation is ongoing.
A five-minute video that went viral on social media earlier this week showed an angry man, believed to be the husband of the woman linked to the priest, confronting the pastor who was seen sitting on chair throughout the video.
The priest was heard uttering “I’m sorry” while the man pointed fingers and called the priest a “snake.” The man lashed out at the priest and told him how he betrayed trust and “destroyed” the family.
The man said he was not out to physically hurt the priest. “I just want to vent out my feelings. We have the support of many people. We’re going to have you investigated,” the man said in the video.
He said he wanted the priest to be removed from his position.
Archbishop Lavarias appealed to the public to “respond with introspective concern and earnest prayers” over the controversy.
“May I also kindly implore all of us to respect the privacy, identity, and rights of the parties concerned, especially as they seek to deal with this sensitive and complex issue with divine guidance and in the most Christian way possible,” said the prelate.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the issue “has shocked many Catholics in Pampanga, with several of them turning to social media to defend the priest or seek understanding for him.”
“They knew him to be devoted to his duties and close to parishioners,” the news report said.