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Lozada also faces spiritual harassment

CEBU CITY Even as the Cebu archdiocese denied the accusation, Rodolfo Lozada Jr. and his supporters here and in Metro Manila criticized Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal for allegedly instructing priests not to officiate masses for the Senate witness during his visit here recently.

Lozada talked about an Archdiocese of Malacaang here while the Black and White Movement in Metro Manila called the cardinal a congressman in cassock.”

The attack has prompted the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of Cebu to issue a statement denying the claim of the Lozada camp. The council is composed of senior and junior priests coming from the districts of Cebu, priest formators in the seminaries, canon lawyers, and other commission heads under the archdiocese.

But even with the denial, churches in the Bicol region and northern Luzon have banned interfaith masses in which Lozada would be a speaker.

(We wish) to unequivocally state that our beloved archbishop did not in any way prevent any priest in the Archdiocese of Cebu to say mass at gatherings organized for Mr. Rodolfo Noel Lozada in Cebu,” the statement said.

It was read by Monsignor Roberto Alesna Alesna, parish priest of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and who has been the councils secretary for the past 15 years.

The cardinal himself, in an ABS-CBN report denied giving out such order.
No. Why should I do something like that when I already made my statement? Someone must have cooked something for me. I dont want to make any judgment against anybody but I am sad that they are using my name,” said Vidal, who celebrated his 52nd anniversary of priestly ordination Monday.

Lozada talked about spiritual harassment in his speeches and interviews in forums held at the University of San Carlos, the University in the Philippines in the Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) and with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) in Cebu.

My mass has been cancelled because no priest would administer it, Lozada told a gathering of college and high school students in UPVCC.

But a mass was held March 17 at the chapel of the missionary house of the Servants of the Holy Spirit in Mabolo, Cebu City attended by Lozada and officiated by a Catholic priest.

In our communal search for truth, there is a need for prudence in our words and actions because truth will not be served if we make claims that are not backed up by facts,” the Presbyteral Council said.

“At a time when reputations are vilified at anybodys whim, we stand solidly behind our Archbishop who has prudently guided the Archdiocese of Cebu during his 26 years of stewardship,” it added.

Alesna, who was with Vidals secretary and the cathedrals parochial vicar Fr. Mhar Balili, said the issuance of the statement was the first action the Presbyteral Council.

Their next step would be to let the country know about their statement, especially after a Manila reporter called up media liaison officer Monsignor Achilles Dakay to ask about the order.

Balili said that the Presbyteral Council was the one that made the move and not the prelate because if he will be the one who will issue the statement, it would mean he is defensive on the matter.”

Fr. Max Abalos, SVD, who is a member of the Cebuanos for Truth (C4T) that supported the visit of Lozada said that he has not received any memorandum from anybody or from the cardinal discouraging priests from officiating masses for Lozada.

He said that he was surprised when Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB, chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors, called up C4T to follow-up on the mass when it was not part in the preparations for the visit.
At the back of my mind, I asked if the value of a mass was looked upon by the organizers. If that value was recognized, then the mass would already have been part in the preparation. Since wala, and now there is an afterthought, I wonder what is the value of this mass? For me, if the purpose of the mass is not clear, why celebrate the mass?” said Abalos.

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