Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Healing priest’s sessions not following Church protocol

The sessions of popular healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez have not been following instructions of the Catholic Church, a prelate warned on Monday.

Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said that Suarez’s healing activities were being conducted without permission from the bishops.

He spoke in a press conference following the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Plenary Assembly.

Oliveros said that according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), all Church-related ministries, like a public healing or a prayer session, should be conducted with the explicit permission of bishops.

The CDF, the oldest of the nine congregations of the Vatican administrative body, oversees the Catholic doctrine.

“In the second part of that instruction, it says that the explicit permission of the bishop must be given in order to have a prayer session or healing session,” Oliveros said.

As far as his diocese was concerned, Oliveros said that Suarez conducted two healing Masses in Marilao, Bulacan, but the priest never sought the bishop’s permission to hold the sessions.

Church instructions, he said, gave bishops the authority to maintain order in such public ministries.

Unfortunately for him, Oliveros said, he only got to know of the healing sessions in his diocese by way of media.

“It has been broadcast [on radio and TV] and the poor Bishop of Malolos only came to know about it through media,” he said.

Lourdes “Deedee” Siytangco, one of the members of the core group organizing the healing activities, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Suarez went to the healing sessions on the invitation of parishes.

She said the committee that took care of sending Suarez to the community presumed that the inviting parish fulfilled all the necessary protocols.

Such comments against Suarez, Siytangco said, were unfair to the healing priest.

“The last thing Suarez would want is to go to a parish where he is not welcome,” Siytangco said.

Oliveros said he was planning to write a formal complaint to the religious superiors of Suarez to inform them that “one of their priests has been coming to the diocese and not following the norms set by the CDF.”

Suarez belongs to the Canada-based religious order Companions of the Cross.

According to Oliveros, the CBCP does not have a position on the healing ministry of Suarez but it recognizes the theological soundness of his acts of healing the body through prayer.
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