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Vatican warns on 'schismatic' groups

Bishops told to beware of 'illicit' Church movements

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • November 6, 2012
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The Vatican has warned Filipino bishops of the presence of "schismatic communities" in the country.

In a communiqué sent to the Catholic bishops' conference, the Vatican, through the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila, said it does not recognize the Roman Catholic Society of Pope Leo XIII and the Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileria as legitimate Catholic Church organizations.

A "schismatic" is an individual or group that separates from the Church by refusing to submit to the Pope or the hierarchy of the Church. Schism is an offense punishable by automatic excommunication.

Monsignor Gabor Pinter, chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, said the Society of Pope Leo XIII, which is led by David G. Bell, is "a schismatic group not recognized in any way by the Catholic Church."

He said in the communiqué that bishops ordained under the society "cannot exercise any ministry within the Catholic Church."

"All organizations and associations connected with the society must be regarded in the same manner as other non-Catholic institutions are," said Gabor.

He said Bell committed the crime of schism and those ordained under him also incurred the sanction prescribed by Canon Law.

Gabor said the same sanctions also apply to the Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileria, a schismatic community founded by Carlos Duarte Costa, who died in 1961.

In the Philippines, the Sacred Cruces Franciscanum (Sacred Cross Franciscans), an offshoot of Costa's group, is present in the same area as the dioceses of Malolos, Novaliches and Antipolo, the bishops' conference said in a statement posted on its website yesterday.

The Sacred Cross Franciscans are currently led by Rogelio del Rosario Martinez, who has tried to integrate himself into the bishops' conference and enroll the community in the Catholic Directory of the Philippines.

Monsignor Joselito Asis, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, said all dioceses were already told about the Vatican communiqué and are aware of the Church's position towards the illicit groups.

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