ANTIPOLO BISHOP FORCED OUT BY SCANDAL
Manila, Jan. 30, 2003 (Inquirer) - The Catholic bishop of Antipolo resigned from his post after reportedly fathering a child last year.
Bishop Crisostomo A. Yalung, 49, a theological scholar and writer, is the first Filipino bishop to resign due to an alleged sex scandal.
The Vatican announced Yalung's resignation on Dec 7 and replaced him with Bishop Gabriel Reyes, formerly of the Kalibo, Aklan Diocese.
Reyes was installed as Antipolo's bishop Wednesday.
Yalung left for the United States to shield the Church from further shame and scandal involving his romantic ties with a confessant, according to a high-ranking Church official.
His departure will also give Vatican investigators a free hand to look into the matter.
Friends of Yalung confirmed to the Inquirer that the woman in question had gone to him for "counseling" two years ago.
The source said Yalung left for the United States in November after his mistress gave birth.
"Bishops and priests are also human. In fairness to him, he was very responsible and very realistic. He did not run away from what he did," the source said.
The source also said that the woman was in love with Yalung and was not satisfied with offers of monetary compensation.
When asked if it was true that the woman was a guest relations officer, the source said: "Whether she's a GRO or a simple woman, she's a woman."
The source said that Yalung resigned after Church authorities conducted an inquiry into rumors that he was having an affair.
According to Inquirer source the Church hierarchy tried to hide the news of Yalung's affair, especially before and during the recent 4th World Meeting of Families in Manila.
"But this should be brought out in the open because rumors, innuendos, and other false information are coming out," the source said.
The source added that the Yalung affair has also become a "humbling experience" for the bishops.
The Church official expressed surprise about the Yalung scandal saying that the priest was known to be "rigid Mr Clean."
"It's out of character, he has a delicate conscience; he avoids scandal," he said of Yalung, who heads the Commission on Biblical Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
In a letter dated Jan 5, 2003 addressed to "the clergy, the religious and faithful of the Diocese of Antipolo," Yalung said in part:
"For my errors, I ask God's mercy and your kind indulgence. For my personal responsibility, I am committed before the Lord and the Church to do the moral duties toward any person or persons who have been affected by my personal mistake."
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, Yalung did not mention the specific reason why he resigned his post, but said it involved "quite a few mistakes, some administrative, others personal or relational."
The priest said he left it to God to "be my best judge for my weaknesses and imperfections."
He said he decided to write his parishioners to clear "undue speculations" caused by his "immediate departure" from the diocese in mid-November 2002.
"I left the diocese not to flee, but to let the local Church continue to grow and to serve. I love the Church and the God-given vocation to serve Her," he said, adding that he made the decision to resign from the office months earlier.
"It was a needed step I made with joy and peace and for the good of the Church," he said "After earnestly involving myself in the ministry of the Church, I thought better that I needed an intense renewal of self in spirituality and on pastoral ministry."
The Inquirer source said that he couldn't say much about the official reason Yalung had given for his resignation because that communication went straight to the Vatican.
He explained that bishops--unlike auxiliary bishops, monsignors and priests--"have direct responsibility to Rome, through the Papal Nuncio (Archbishop Antonio Franco)"
He said this was the reason why he cannot be named as a source of this story.
But he explained that in such cases like Yalung's, Rome is known to immediately create a committee to investigate the alleged scandal.
"When it comes to Church discipline, if there are accusations against you, you are asked to go on leave, you are investigated and if proven guilty, you are immediately sanctioned and given (the) appropriate penalty," he said.
Although still a bishop, he said the status of Yalung now was similar to a "preventive suspension" in layman's term.
But he clarified that Yalung did not "surreptitiously leave or abandon his post."
Born in Angeles City, on Dec3, 1953, Yalung excelled in his philosophy and theology studies. He was sent to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome to have his licentiate in sacred scriptures.
Later, he earned his doctorate in sacred theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He was sent to the FU Jen Catholic University in Taiwan to learn the Chinese language.
He was ordained a priest in June 1979 and even became a papal chaplain, a sign of favor, in September 1991.
Yalung also served as rector of San Carlos Seminary in Makati before he was ordained a bishop on March 23, 1994 at 40.
His various other posts included spiritual director and professor of scripture at the Mother of Good Counsel Seminary in Pampanga; vice rector of the Lorenzo Mission Institute in Makati, auxiliary bishop of Manila, episcopal vicar of Makati, and vicar general of the archdiocese of Manila.
He was the second youngest CBCP member.
In October 2001, the Vatican appointed him the second bishop of Antipolo He was installed on Dec 3, 2001.
The source said that Yalung, now Antipolo bishop emeritus, might later work in the Vatican. (By Armand Nocum and Philip C Tubeza)
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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