In response to the charge lodged by former election chief Harriet Demetriou, a devotee of Our Lady Mary Mediatrix of All Grace in Lipa, Batangas, Dominican Fr. Winston Cabading, an exorcist, stated that he has not violated Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.
Cabading has denied that he made offensive remarks about an "alleged" apparition in Batangas in 1948.
Batangas is a coastal province more than 100 kilometers south of Manila.
The priest maintained that he had no intention to offend religious feelings when he said at a national conference in 2019 that there had been no apparition that had taken place at the Carmelite monastery in Batangas, according to the Vatican.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not acknowledge this apparition in Batangas in 1948.
According to the Vatican decree, "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith first examined the matter of the alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Carmelite Convent in Lipa, Philippines, in 1949."
"After a thorough study of the available evidence, including the testimony of the prioress of the convent, on March 28, 1951, the Congregation (then known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office) declared the events in Lipa to have no sign of supernatural character or origin. This decision was confirmed by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, on March 29, 1951."
Cabading was arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group of the Philippine National Police at 10 p.m. on May 13 pursuant to a warrant of arrest.
The priest has clarified that he did not violate any law and that documents in the custody of the Catholic Church would support his remark on said apparition.
The penalty for violating the law on religious feelings is two years and four months in prison. The court recommended bail of P18,000 ($305).
The Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith invited the devotees of Mother Mary, Mediatrix of Grace, in 2016 to continue their devotion, but discouraged them from identifying with said apparition in 1948.
The CBCP also reinforced the 1951 Vatical ruling, which does not acknowledge said apparition.
Demetriou was also the first female Philippine election chief. She was also the 24th Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan, an anti-graft court.
Demetriou believed Cabading has offended her religious feelings.
In her 15-page complaint, Demetriou cited two elements of the crime:
- "that the acts complained of were performed either in a place devoted to religion or during the celebration of any religious ceremony; and
- "that the acts must be notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful."
"I just clearly stated that there must be careful discernment based on the teachings of the Church," the priest said. "There is a clear decision by the Church regarding the ‘Lipa Apparition."
The priest posted bail on May 15.- Oliver Samson
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