Shaming and the priest’s apology

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

“I deeply regret...Ihave done this. I only later realized how cruel (were) my ways to educate and impart lessons for the said event.”
--Fr. Romeo Obach

“(Baptism) is called ‘gift’ because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; ‘grace’ since it is given to the guilty.”
--St. Gregory of Nazianzus, ‘Oratio,’ quoted in ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church

FR. Romeo Obach talked about his cruelty in trying to instruct an unwed mother at her child's baptism in a Mandaue City church last July 6.


What he lost then wasn't just temper but the basic idea about baptism. In publicly scolding the baby's mom, he distorted the sacrament.

Infants tainted with original sin and a "fallen human nature," are born anew in baptism "to be freed from the power of darkness" and become children of God. Church catechism tells us that.

Fr. Obach must have deemed the mother unfit "to help the child lead a Christian life."

How could she do her "ecclesial function," even with godparents, when she "without shame" had slept with a man not her husband?

But blessing of the mother, the catechism says, occupies a "special place" at the ritual: she must also be cleansed of sin as the child is cleansed.

Was that Fr. Obach’s way of washing sin away?


St. Peter said "repent and be baptized." But will baptism still be gift and grace if atonement is extracted by the public shaming?

A priest says Fr. Obach's excess didn't nullify sanctity of baptism. Like a judge cracking a lewd joke at a civil marriage wouldn't invalidate the union.

It just leaves an awful taste in the mouth.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 10, 2014.


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