A northern Philippine archdiocese has initiated a search for a religious statue that has gone missing from one of its parish churches.
The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan learned that the image of San Jacinto de Polonia was replaced with another one of ‘later provenance’ approximately seven years ago.
“I have mandated the parish priest to explore all means to recover the missing image of San Jacinto de Polonia in the parish church,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.
“Let me also appeal to those who have lent cooperation to the switching of the images to listen to the voice of conscience and restore the image to its rightful owner, the Catholic Church,” he said.
Villegas made the statement after an archdiocesan investigation confirmed that the current image on the side retablo of the church in San Jacinto town is no longer the original one.
According to him, the switching of images could have occurred between August 17 and September 23, 2016.
“Time and events will tell if we will succeed in recovering the image of San Jacinto de Polonia. It is indeed a demand of Catholic morality that the image be returned,” he said.
The archbishop said all stolen things must be returned to the rightful moral owner; “otherwise, the keeper of the stolen object lives in sin.”
“We also sin against this commandment by willfully cooperating in the act of taking or keeping stolen objects,” he said.