This is not the first time a Catholic priest has been accused of sexual abuse. Neither is this to say that only Catholic priests have been reported to have fallen afoul of such detestable acts, involving innocent minors at that. Protestant pastors and other so-called moral vanguards from other religious sects have also found themselves faced with similar charges. Not the least of whom is a widely known, politically well-connected pastor is reportedly WANTED in the United States for sex trafficking.
Recently, however, what long appeared to be a “sleeping” scandal involving the Catholic Church has been awakened. Only this time, it comes close, very close to home, in effect rocking the universal church. That is, the Diocese of Borongan in Eastern Visayas.
Last September 17, the Diocese of Borongan issued an official statement, giving public notice that “the Holy Father Pope Francis has dismissed from the clerical state Pio Cultura Aclon of the Diocese of Borongan. He is, therefore, no longer a cleric and cannot exercise priestly ministry in the Church.”
A source inside the Church said that the “defrockment” is “absolute and permanent, not a partial suspension.”
The statement, dated July 18, 2023, was signed by Fr. James Abella, “By the mandate of his Excellency the Most Rev. Crispin B. Varquez, DD, Bishop of Borongan”.
Right that day, Aclon reacted to the statement, addressing his bishop through social media: “You announce this Bishop Crispin Vasquez . . . now where is the letter of Pope Francis? I give you 10 days to provide us with the letter. The same thing we ask to provide us with the 1951 Papal Decree issued against the Lipa apparition. . . .”
Lipa City 'Miracle'
There are talks in some quarters that Aclon had tied his defrockment to the alleged apparitions of Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces in 1948 at the Carmelite Monastery in Lipa City, Batangas.
He continues to insist that the apparitions were real, contrary to the Church position, which in 1951 decreed them to be fake.
But in a news report published September 17 in official website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), sexual abuse against minors was the reason given for Aclon’s divestment of priestly functions.
On September 18, Atty. Delyen Madula, Aclon’s lawyer, in a letter, slammed Bishop Varquez. They have requested for a copy of the Papal Decree dismissing Pio Aclon from the clerical state. Within the legal notice, Medula emphasized that her client’s Religious and Civil Rights were both violated, arguing that Social Media was not part of the proper procedure for this matter.
In the legal notice, it requested Bishop Varquez to provide the decision and case records made by Pope Francis, along with an explanation, within seven days of receiving the notice. Madula firmly stated to Bishop Varquez: “Your unjustifiable failure to comply with this demand within the given period shall be construed as a deliberate and unlawful refusal.”
Final Act of Charity
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Borongan has maintained their silence regarding this matter, while Aclon has been actively posting about it on his Facebook account.
It may be as an act protecting the victims from further scrutiny or a final act of charity for Aclon.
After days of seemingly adding fuel to the fire, Aclon’s posts have recently been deleted. He has now taken the step of clearing his entire Facebook account and has chosen to become silent.
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