Murcia town officials banned from church

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Monday, June 9, 2014

FATHER Greg Patiño, priest of Immaculate Conception Parish in Murcia, has banned Mayor Andrew Montelibano and the members of the Municipal Council from their church.

"Along with my assistant priest, by the virtue vested upon me by the Catholic Church, I declare that starting today the mayor of Murcia along with all the SB (Council) members, could no longer receive any sacrament from this parish church," Patiño declared in his sermon in three Sunday masses.

The masses were held at 5 a.m., 8 a.m., and 4:30 p.m. Sunday.


The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion (also known as the Eucharist), Confession (also known as Penance or Reconciliation), Marriage (also known as Matrimony), Holy Orders (also known as Ordination), and Anointing of the Sick (also known as Extreme Unction or Last Rites).

During the sermons, Fr. Patiño said the resolution passed by the Municipal Council asking Bishop Vicente Navarra to relieve him and his assistant priest Fr. Agustin Hinayan is an insult not only to them as priests, but an insult to the bishop most of all.

“They are dictating (upon) the bishop. We are not transient in this town. I have been here for more than six months already and I am even a certified voter of this town. The officials used their state power and authority to drive us away from the parish. It’s unfortunate because most of these officials are also Catholics,” Fr. Patiño added.

He added that the town officials should instead welcome them because their advocacy against illegal drugs and illegal gambling is for the purpose of achieving peace and order in Murcia.

The conflict between Montelibano and his fellow municipal officials with the priests came when Fr. Patiño and Fr. Hinayan, during their sermons, criticized the reported proliferation of illegal drugs and illegal gambling activities in the town.

The mayor said the priests are giving the town a bad image for projecting that it is a haven for these illegal activities.

On June 3, Montelibano, along with Vice Mayor Gerry Rojas and Association of Barangay Captains president Anton Gonzaga, submitted a copy of the resolution to Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra on June 3.

During the sermon Sunday, Fr. Patiño said is Rojas excluded from the ban because he is not a parishioner in the area as he lives in Bacolod City.

The priest’s sermon was also related to the Pentecostal Day or Day of Church.

“We just educate the people of the evil effects of gambling and illegal drugs and along with the pastors and school officials of Murcia wrote a letter to the mayor to address the situation. We never expected negative reactions from them,” Fr. Patiño added.

When asked for his reaction, Montelibano said he won't make a personal comment and will just leave the matter to the bishop.

He said that he is not against the Church and that the bishop has already called the attention of the two priests that they should not use the church in discussing the issues in Murcia.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 09, 2014.

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