Priest says sorry, asks for forgiveness

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

CEBU (Updated) -- Fr. Romeo Obach, who was caught on video berating an unwed mother during a baptism in Cebu City, apologized to the 17-year-old woman, her relatives and friends for his conduct he admitted was "unbecoming" of a priest.

"I am now making a public heartfelt apology to the mother of the child and her immediate family. The words I said and the rude attitude that I showed before I performed the rite of baptism last Sunday at the Sacred Heart Chapel was indeed unbecoming," he said in a statement Tuesday.

"I deeply regret that I have done this. I only later realized how cruel my ways to educate and impart lessons for the said event. I am deeply sorry to the mother of the child, her relatives, the sponsors and witnesses of the incident. I am sorry to the internet viewers, to media listeners and viewers for the mistake I personally admit. I am deeply sorry and I humbly ask your forgiveness," Fr. Obach added.

Obach has been suspended by his superior pending investigation.

The video, as of this posting, has been shared by at least 31,700 users and generated at least 7,300 likes on Facebook. It was the 17-year-old woman's mother, Jievelyn Gonzales, 37, who uploaded the video to her Facebook account Sunday night, hours after the baptismal rite.

Fr. Romeo Obach's apology letter
Fr. Romeo Obach's letter

Jievelyn told Sun.Star on Monday that the video was taken by her 12-year-old daughter, who she said “accidentally” captured the priest's tirades.

The video is 2:03 minutes long and shows Kaye (real name withheld) standing and holding her baby while Obach was delivering his sermon.

Obach was captured telling Kaye and those who were present during the baptism:

"Ayaw mo pagsunod sa hiwi nga binuhatan, nga mosugot lang mo nga modug sa lalaki nga di pa ninyo bana. Ingon ana ba diay ang atong pagtulon-an sa simbahan? Kaning bata, walay ni sala pero ang mga babae ug lalaki nga magdug nga wala pa sa kasal, maoy nagpuyo sa sala. Mapasa usab sa bata ang disgrasya. Hinaot pa nga dili kay naghappy-happy ug naglingaw-lingaw mo kay naay bata. O grasya ni pero nabuhat ni siya sa sala. Wala ni siya buhata sa...Naminyo ba ka, Day? (Girl shakes head) O, tan-awa, maayo ba ni siya nga Kristiyanos? Ipanghambog ba ta ni, Day? Nga naa kay anak pero wa kay bana? Kaulaw ani, Day. Motago gani unta ka karon, kay naa kas simbahan, makaulaw. Kay magpabunyag ka nga wa kay bana, nakigdug ka og laki nga di nimo bana. Nakadungog ka nako, Day? Di ka mauwaw? Dako kaayo ng uwaw. Nya kamo, mosunod mo? Mobikangkang mo sa laki nga mokuhit ninyo? Mao na nga makauwaw ni. Busa kaning bata-a, magpuyo ni sa grasya kay gibunyagan man siya. Ikaw gibunyagan ka pero wa nimo tumana ang imong mga saad sa bunyag. Hinaot ning bataa nga motubo nga motuman sa iyang mga saad sa bunyag. Hiwi ka, yabag ka. Hinaot pa naay uban nga motabang aron di na mayabag ang bata sama nimo nga di mosunod sa pagtulun-an ni Hesus."

(Don't follow wrong deeds, allowing yourself to sleep with a man who is not your husband. Is that what the church has taught you? This child did not sin, but the man and the woman who slept together unwed are the ones who are living in sin. The child will bear the mistake. Hope you'll think that this is not just about being happy and amused because the child is here. Yes, this is grace, but conceived through sin. This was not done through...Were you married, Day? (Girl shakes head) Oh, see, is she a good Christian? Is this something you can be proud of, Day? That you have a child, but have no husband? This is shameful, Day. You should have covered yourself, because you are in church, shameful. Because you want this baptism even without a husband, you slept with a man who was not your husband. Do you hear me, Day? Aren't you ashamed? This is so shameless. And you (addresses crowd), are you going to follow what she did? Will you spread your legs for a man you barely know? That's why this is shameful. This child will live in grace because he is baptized. You, on the other hand, was baptized but you did not fulfill the promise of baptism. Hope this child will grow to follow his baptismal promise. You are crooked. I hope that some people will help you and enlighten you so your child will grow up following Christ's teachings, which cannot be said of you.)

The Redemptorist Church, in a statement released Tuesday, said it was "deeply saddened by the incident."

Earlier, Msgr. Esteban Binghay, an episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said Obach should “respect a solo mother.”

Priests are prohibited not to baptize an illegitimate child, he said.

"Being a child of a single mother does not exclude the baby from being baptized because God wants all to be saved," he said. "Baptism is a necessary sacrament for salvation, whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate." (With Kevin A. Lagunda of Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)

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