Family of Bacani Happy with Vatican Ruling

Star [Philippines]
Downloaded June 23, 2003

Manila, June 23, 2003 By Jose Aravilla (Star) Despite speculation that the Vatican was implementing a "serene" exit for embattled Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani, his family expressed satisfaction yesterday that Pope John Paul II appointed an apostolic administrator to Bacani's episcopal see.

Bacani's older brother, lawyer Pastor Bacani, 64, admitted to reporters that the sexual harassment scandal involving his bishop brother has caused their family "so much anguish and pain." He said they are leaving the matter to the Vatican to decide.

The older Bacani told reporters their family was happy that the Vatican "temporarily" appointed San Fernando, La Union Bishop Antonio Tobias as Apostolic Administrator of the See of Novaliches while the sexual harassment charges against Bishop Bacani are being examined.

In the meantime, Bacani would remain Novaliches bishop and may perform acts "proper to (his) priestly and episcopal ministry."

The older Bacani said the bishop was already aware of the Vatican's decision and was doing well with their mother in the United States, but would not likely return to attend the plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) next month.

During next month's plenary meeting, the CBCP is expected to approve a "protocol" on sexual misconduct by Catholic clergymen.

The appointment of Tobias, who will remain as San Fernando bishop, took effect when the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Franco announced the papal nomination on Saturday in a rare press conference called "to ease the tension."

In a statement, the Apostolic Nunciature hoped the announcement would "discourage damaging speculations and destructive expressions" against Bishop Bacani, 63, and his former secretary France Elaine Ventura, 34, who accused the bishop of sexual harassment.

The Nunciature said Tobias' appointment was "meant to facilitate better consideration and fair evaluation of all aspects of the situation, without pressure of any kind from any sector, in an atmosphere of serenity and impartiality."

"The achievement of this aim demands a process of general spiritual renewal and healing, which takes time and calls for patience," read the Nunciature's official statement.

Franco himself said during the Saturday press conference that there was no timeframe for the resolution of Bacani's case and that it could last from one to three years.


But sources inside the Catholic Church said the appointment of an apostolic administrator for the Novaliches diocese was confusing, especially when the Nunciature stressed that Tobias would continue to administer the diocese even if Bacani, who remains a bishop, should return.

"The nomination of an Apostolic administrator is a temporary measure, which the Holy See takes to make provision for the care of a diocese in a specific situation," the Nunciature statement read.

"This is a case of double talk. The statement on the appointment of the Apostolic administrator is confusing," said a Church insider privy to the Bacani case but asked not to be named.

The churchman also expressed fear that Bacani's case would end up like the case of former Antipolo bishop Crisostomo Yalung, 49, who was said to have fathered two children with his confessed 26-year-old lover, Christine Rances. Yalung is now believed to be working in the Vatican as a librarian.

"In the case of Yalung, the outcome of the investigation was never known but he was removed nonetheless," the source said.

The source said Yalung should be compelled to fulfill his paternal obligations to his two offspring but no criminal charges could be filed against him because the case apparently involved consensual sexual relations.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.