Priest berates ma, 17; video goes viral on FB

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A VIDEO posted on Facebook of a priest berating a young mother during last Sunday’s baptism of her son in Barangay Jagobiao, Mandaue City went viral with 20,506 shares and 4,071 likes as of 10:30 last night.

The mother, 17, lamented she did not deserve to be berated by Fr. Christopher Romeo Obach of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R) in front of more than 30 guests, including her classmates, the child's sponsors, barangay officials, relatives and neighbors.

Kaye (not her real name) said she was humiliated and hurt by the priest, who also told guests during the ceremony at the Sacred Heart Chaplaincy of the Redemptorist Church in Barangay Jagobiao not to follow her example.


“Hiwi ka. Yabag ka. Hinaot pa naa’y uban nga motabang aron di na mayabag ang bata sama nimo nga di mosunod sa pagtulun-an ni Hesus (You are a sinner. I hope someone would make sure that your child will not become like you who do not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ),” the priest was captured on a mobile phone video telling Kaye.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to reach Fr. Obach, but a staff of the Redemptorist Church said the priests were on a retreat in Busay yesterday. Another staff member said they have reported the incident to the C.Ss.R superior yesterday and they will issue later a statement on the issue.


When Sun.Star Cebu told Msgr. Esteban Binghay, the episcopal vicar of the Cebu Archdiocese said Obach should “respect a solo mother.” He said priests cannot withhold the sacrament of baptism to an an illegitimate child.

“Being a son of a single mother does not exclude him 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.”

At the Sistine Chapel in Rome last January, Pope Francis baptized the child of an unmarried couple to set an example for priests.

Kaye and her mother want Obach to be kicked out from priesthood. They also planned to file complaints against him.

But Binghay suggested that Kaye's family settle the issue with Obach instead of going to court.

He said archdiocese can investigate the matter if Kaye's parents file a complaint with the Cebu Archdiocese. They can complain directly to the C.Ss.R. superior, he added.


The Archdiocese can remind the priest “how to say things not to embarrass” another person, said Binghay.

In the video, Obach further said: “Ipanghambog ba ta ni, Day? Nga naa kay anak pero wa kay bana? Kaulaw ani, Day. Motago gani unta ka karon (Are you proud to be a mother without a husband? This is shameful. You should hide in shame).”

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

“It diminished 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.”

RA 7610 defines child abuse as “any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being.”

Abarientos urges Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma to investigate the incident and exert efforts to create a “child-friendly church.” “Wearing a priestly garment (does not provide) authority to abuse,” she said.

Legal aid

She said CLB can give legal assistance to the parents of the minor who was berated by the priest.

Kaye’s mother said that it was unfair for the priest to humiliate her daughter.

“Masayop man gyud ang taw. Napaangkan ni siya pero dili ni siya maglaroy-laroy (Humans err. My daughter may have gotten pregnant out of wedlock but she is not promiscuous),” she added.

She said the video was only two minutes and four seconds long but Obach’s sermon lasted for more than five minutes.

Despite the humiliation she got, Kaye said she is determined to get back on her feet so she can provide for her son’s needs. She plans to return to her studies at a university in Cebu City.

The child’s father is in a relationship with another woman.

Kaye’s parents said they will not bolt the Catholic Church because of their experience with Obach.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 09, 2014.

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