Cebu City – The priest who berated a 17-year-old single mother at a baptism last Sunday apologized Tuesday, describing his behavior as unbecoming and cruel, Filipino newspaper Sun.Star reported.
Fr Romeo Obach C.Ss.R, the priest who was caught on video ranting at the mother, made the apology in a letter released to the media by Fr Alfonso Suico Jr., media liaison of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. The video was later uploaded on Facebook by the girl’s mother and went viral. It was shared almost 39,000 times.
“I am now making a public heartfelt apology to the mother of the child and her immediately family. The words I said and the rude attitude that I showed before I performed the rite of baptism last Sunday…was indeed unbecoming,” Obach wrote.
“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.”
He added: “I am deeply sorry to the mother of the child, her relatives, the sponsors and the witnesses of the incident. I am sorry to the Internet viewers, to the media listeners and viewers for the mistake I personally admit. I am deeply sorry and I humbly ask your forgiveness.”
Fr Obach has been a priest for 28 years.
The congregation also apologized for Obach’s behavior, saying it was “contrary to the charism and mission for which our congregation was founded—compassion, especially to the poor and the most abandoned.”
The video ran for over two minutes showing the young woman holding her baby while Fr Obach castigates her.
Speaking in the dialect, he said, “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.”
He, then asked the young mum if she was married, to which she replied with a shake of her head.”Oh, see, is she a good Christian? Is this something you can be proud of, girl? That you have a child, but have no husband? This is shameful, girl. You should have covered yourself, because you are in church, shameful,” he further remonstrated.
Government social workers said what the priest did was verbal abuse.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said he will let the Redemptorist community investigate the matter.The C.Ss.R superiors ordered an internal investigation and has kept him from saying mass until the investigation is concluded. “Appropriate sanctions will be applied once the investigation is complete so that justice may prevail,” the congregation said.