Catholic Priest Arrested For Offending Filipino Official About Apparitions Of The Virgin Mary
Mary Mediatrix of All Graces. Credit: Srppateros via Wikimedia CC
A Filipino priest who defended the Church's findings regarding the non-supernatural status of the alleged apparitions of Our Lady in Lipa City has been arrested and charged with offending the religious feelings of a former government official.
According to Women of Grace, a Catholic apostolate, Harriet Demetriou, a devotee of the Lipa apparitions and former chief of the Commission on Elections, filed a complaint against Father Winston Cabading, OP, an exorcist for the Archdiocese of Manila and instructor at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, for statements he made during a Facebook program.
The program, hosted by Brother Wendell Talibong entitled, "Fragrant oil flows from image of Our Lady of Mediatrix-Expert issues Warning," discussed an alleged extraordinary event involving a statue similar to that of Our Lady, Mediatrix of Graces, who devotees believe appeared at a Carmelite Monastery in Lipa City in 1948. The statue, which is located in an undisclosed parish is reportedly exuding a fragrant oil.
Prior to the show, Brother Wendell contacted Fr. Cabading for comments he made during the program. Fr. Cabading called for careful discernment of the phenomenon because the alleged apparition of Our Lady, Mediatrix of Graces in Lipa City in 1948 was declared non-supernatural in character by the Vatican in 1951 and again in 2015.
As a result, Fr. Cabading was charged with Offending Religious Feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code of the Asian country, which carries a penalty of up to two years in prison. This law pertains to crimes committed in a place devoted to public worship or during a religious ceremony when a person performs any act notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.
The Prosecutor in the case considered the online program (a talk show) as a religious ceremony and held that Fr. Cabading's description of the Lipa statue as being demonic in character is deemed a notoriously offensive act. However, after reading the Prosecutor's Resolution, several Catholic lay groups noted that nowhere in his quoted statements did Fr. Cabading use this description.
In addition, Article 133 only punishes acts performed and not statements made, because Fr. Cabading's statements are protected by the Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and of expression.
Various Catholic lay groups have condemned the actions taken against Father Cabading and are urging Catholics to obey the guidance of the Church on matters of faith.
In May 2016, Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles of Lipa announced that the Vatican had reiterated its negative judgement of 1951 on the supposed supernatural nature of the apparitions. This reiteration of the negative judgement was a rebuttal to the archbishop, who had a few months prior announced (without Vatican approval) that the Lipa apparition had been reapproved as supernatural. He resigned in 2017.
Currently, the apparitions known as Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace – are officially considered "not supernatural in nature" by the Holy See.