2003-01-31 00:00:00

A newly installed Philippine bishop has appealed for charity for his predecessor who resigned after admitting a "mistake" that led to his resignation.

Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Kalibo was installed in Antipolo Jan. 29, taking over from Bishop Crisostomo Yalung who resigned amid rumors of a romantic involvement with a woman. Bishop Yalung, 49, resigned last November, less than a year after he had become bishop in Antipolo the previous December.

Bishop Reyes suggested in a statement sent to the media a day after his installation, "What remains for us is to treat the bishop with charity, respect his person and privacy and pray for him that he will be able to overcome these difficulties in which he finds himself."

That same day, the "Philippine Daily Inquirer" reported that Bishop Yalung resigned due to "scandal involving his romantic ties with a confessant."

The newly installed bishop responded to the newspaper by saying Bishop Yalung wrote a letter to the people of Antipolo in which he "acknowledged his mistakes,expressed sorrow for them, acted to rectify his wrong-doing and is making amends for whatever harm he may have caused to those concerned."

The reference was to a letter that Bishop Yalung wrote Jan. 5 to clergy, Religious and laypeople. In it, he said he resigned because he needed "an intense renewal of self in spirituality and on pastoral ministry." His resignation being accepted by the Holy Father was publicly announced Dec. 5.

Bishop Yalung said that while he gave his best to the Church and wished sincerely to serve more meaningfully, "I have also committed quite a few mistakes, some administrative, others personal or relational." He wrote, "For the good works done, a million thanks to the Lord," and "For my errors, I ask God´s mercy and your kind indulgence."

He explained that he left the diocese not to flee but to allow the local Church to grow. "I love the Church and the God-given vocation to serve her," the bishop asserted. However, he said his resignation was a "needed step I made with joy and peace for the good of the Church." He added, "I am committed before the Lord and the Church to do my moral duties toward any person or persons who have been affected by my personal mistake."

Appealing to the people he once served, Bishop Yalung also wrote, "Let us keep one another in mutual prayer," and he offered them "ardent wishes of God´s best blessings for a peaceful New Year."

Monsignor Rigoberto de Guzman, vicar general of Antipolo, told UCA News the letter sent through Auxiliary Bishop Jesse Mercado of Manila, who was then also apostolic administrator in Antipolo, was faxed to priests of the diocese.

Monsignor de Guzman said he received a copy around mid-January but did not circulate it among his parishioners. "There were no instructions on what to do with the letter, so each priest did what they wanted with it."

One parishioner told UCA News Jan. 29 she had no idea why a young man like "Bishop Tom" (Bishop Yalung) was "taken away." She acknowledged there were "ugly rumors" she did not care to repeat and hoped they were untrue.

Antipolo diocese serves Rizal province, Marikina City and parts of Pasig City. It has nearly 3 million people.


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