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Philippine priest's baptism rant draws storm of protest

Priest apologizes for chastizing unmarried teenage mother

Philippine priest's baptism rant draws storm of protest

Screengrab of the priest as he castigated a 17-year-old at her baby's baptism. Picture: Youtube reporter, Manila

July 8, 2014

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A Redemptorist priest in the Philippines issued an apology on Tuesday after a video of him insulting an unwed teenage mother drew a barrage of criticism on social networks.

"I am now making a public heartfelt apology to the mother of the child and her immediate family," Fr Romeo Obach said in a statement sent to media organizations.

The video of Obach castigating the 17-year-old mother at her baby’s baptism in a church in Cebu province on Sunday elicited many comments condemning the priest. 

"What you did was worldly. You allowed yourself to sleep with a man who isn’t your husband? Have you no shame?" Obach told the teenager before performing the baptism.

"Even if the child has not sinned, a man and woman who sleep together without being married lives in sin. She may pass the consequences of her sin on to the child. You don't succumb to lust. Yes, a baby is a gift from God, but the baby was born in sin," the priest said.

Several critics contrasted Obach’s actions with that of Pope Francis who baptized the child of unmarried parents at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City in January. 

The pope simply told the parents that they had the duty to pass the faith on to their children.

Criticism from others was more direct.

“You are a priest to guide us to the right way, not insult somebody in front of many people,” Ronald Yajnat wrote.

“He needs to go back to the seminary. This priest forgot to acknowledge that he himself is a sinner too,” wrote Tony Fabros Sario.

“He was using an old trick that in order for him to be elevated he has to put somebody down. In this case the unwed mother. He seems to be of no difference to a worm,” he added.

Obach said he realized "the rudeness I displayed… was indeed unbecoming. I deeply regret that I have done this. I only later realized how cruel I was in trying to educate and impart lessons for the said event. I am deeply sorry to the mother of the child, her relatives, the sponsors and the witnesses," Obach said.

"I am sorry to internet users, to media listeners and viewers for this mistake. I am deeply sorry and I humbly ask your forgiveness," he said.

The Redemptorist congregation in Cebu also issued an apology, saying it was "saddened by the incident".

"As a religious community we do not condone such an unacceptable act as it is contrary to the charism and mission for which our congregation was founded – compassion especially to the poor and the most abandoned," the congregation said in a statement.

The congregation said an internal investigation is underway and assured the public that "appropriate sanctions" will be applied "so that justice may prevail".

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