Cebu priest berates unwed mother, 17, during baptism

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Monday, July 7, 2014

CEBU CITY (Updated) -- A 17-year-old single mother is lamenting how she was scolded by a priest during the baptism of her son last Sunday, July 6, at the at the Sacred Heart Chaplaincy of the Redemptorist Church in Barangay Jagobiao, Mandaue City.

“I am hurt. I am affected mentally. I cannot forgive him,” Kaye (real name withheld) told Sun.Star Cebu.


It was Kaye's mother Jievelyn, 37, who uploaded the video to her Facebook account Sunday night, hours after the baptismal rite. Jievelyn said the video was taken by her 12-year-old daughter, who she said “accidentally” captured the priest's tirades.

Jievelyn identified the priest as Fr. Romeo Obach of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

No judgment

Kaye and Jievelyn said they both want Obach kicked out from priesthood, not just transferred to another church. Jievelyn said Obach should have given advice to Kaye, who was impregnated by her 21-year-old former boyfriend.

“I am so hurt. I couldn't stomach what he told my daughter. He doesn't know what my daughter has been through,” Jievelyn said.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to reach Obach for comment but was told that he is on a retreat and hasn't returned to the church yet.

Lawyer Noemi Abarientos of the Children's Legal Bureau (CLB) said Obach's act is a violation under the Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

"It diminishes the self-worth of the child," she said. "The family went to the church to receive the grace of the Lord, but what was given to them was public humiliation."

When told by Sun.Star Cebu about the video, 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."

He also said the Archdiocese can investigate the matter if the parents of the minor will file a complaint against the priest.

The parents can also complain directly to the head of Obach's congregation.

For her part, Abarientos said CLB can provide legal assistance to the parents if they decide to sue Obach.

Living in sin?

The video is 2:03 minutes long and shows Kaye 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.)

While Obach was giving his sermon, a boy could be heard in the background saying that Kaye is on the verge of tears

Jievel's post sparked different reactions, mostly angry, from netizens.

Facebook user D Einsteinette Emz said that while Obach is “telling the truth, at least he can say it in a nice way. Respeto lang sad ba. Ang tawo nga nadagma di ba dapat man pabarogon, di man dapat tamakan (We should help the fallen get back on their feet, not condemn them).”

Another user, Lieju Naa GaLina, said, “Yes, the priest said it too much, but reality bites that's true. His words are not just for the mother but for everybody. Posting this video won't solve the issue not even your heartaches. Only prayer can heal your wounded heart. For those who shared this and curse the priest, God bless you all.”

As of this posting, Jievelyn's Facebook post has been shared by at least 12,000 users and generated at least 1,800 likes.

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