Maasin diocese takes steps amid Vietnamese priestly ordination stir

Maasin diocese takes steps amid Vietnamese priestly ordination stir

By CBCP News

February 17, 2023

Manila, Philippines

The central Philippine diocese of Maasin said Friday it is taking necessary steps to shed light on the issue surrounding the ordination of a Vietnamese to the priesthood.

Maasin bishop Prescioso Cantillas said they will take all efforts to get to the bottom of the controversy involving Father John Baptist Ho Huu Hoa.

“The current stir regarding this matter is truly unfortunate and upsetting. We are now taking the necessary steps and procedures which will hopefully aid all concerned to be enlightened, and so issues will be clarified,” Cantillas said.

“Also, we entrust the situation to the proper authority to decide on the veracity of the documents forwarded to our office,” he said. “May the Light of Christ direct our actions, so we may find the truth.”

The bishop made the statement following a news report questioning the worthiness of the priest, who was jailed for bribery in Vietnam in 2019. He was reportedly released from temporary detention in November 2021.

Ucanews.com reported Bishop Alfonse Nguyen Huu Long of Vinh diocese in central Vietnam disowned Hoa, who is reportedly not known to have undergone regular seminary formation.

But Bishop Cantillas claimed they followed the usual canonical procedures, especially the presentation of the necessary “dimissorial letter” signed by Bishop Long and attested by his chancellor, Fr. Gerardo Nguyen Nam Viet.

The canonical document is sent by a bishop or religious superior testifying that an individual is suitable to be ordained by another bishop.

After Hoa’s diaconate ordination on Sept. 8, 2022, Bishop Cantillas ordained him as priest for the Vinh diocese on Dec. 7, 2022 at the Maasin Cathedral.

Saying that the ordination was done “in good faith”, he also revealed receiving a letter from retired Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Ha Tinh and former bishop of Vinh, “which introduced the matter to our office and the reason for the request”.

After the ordination, Bishop Cantillas said that the Vinh diocese’s chancellor, and a Vietnamese deacon acting as translator, sought an audience with them on Hoa’s petition for incardination to the Maasin diocese.

Hoa was formally incardinated to the Diocese of Maasin on Jan. 15, 2023 but the bishop assured that the required canonical procedure was followed.

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