Priest’s return to active ministry dim

It was reported in a recent issue of Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) that the return to active ministry of former Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio is dim. Better known as “Among Ed” to many of his followers, Fr. Ed Panlilio is also a priest but lost his priestly powers when he decided to run in politics. That is of course in accordance with the separation of Church and State.

He won the gubernatorial seat during the 2007 elections in the Philippines but was also suspended from performing his priestly functions. Hence, he couldn’t say mass, hear confession or administer the other sacraments that include matrimony. When he came to Australia last year as guest speaker of Aguman Capampangan, he openly admitted to this writer that he was still waiting for clearance from the Vatican to return to priesthood.

It was reported in PDI that “Among Ed” was again absent for the fifth time during Maundy Thursday celebrations held at the Metropolitan Cathedral in the City of San Fernando. Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said that “Fr. Panlilio cannot concelebrate at the Mass because he is still under suspension.”

Thus, up to now, after five long years, Fr. Panlilio is still waiting for approval from the Vatican for his suspension to be lifted so that he can again start saying mass. At least we know that Fr. Ed Panlilio is not defiant to the orders of the Archbishop and is not in violation of the Canon Law.

But here in Sydney, we have Fr. Raul del Prado who has been saying mass, quite regularly it seems, in spite of the fact that he does not have the required celebret from his bishop in the Philippines. (A celebret is a letter which a Roman Catholic Bishop or major religious superior gives to a priest in order that the priest may obtain permission in another diocese to say mass, and for this purpose bears testimony that he is free from canonical censures.)

Now there are reports circulating that Fr. Raul will be able to regularize his status, suggesting that he would obtain a celebret by May 1, 2011. The accuracy of this report is not clear but we nevertheless challenge him to present this celebret at least to media or to any bishop in Australia to prove the legitimacy of masses he has been celebrating.

If he is indeed successful in obtaining the required document, then he should be assigned to a parish. After all, there is an acute shortage of priests in Australia. According to a March 2011 publication of The Age Catholic News, there is only one priest for every 1,895 Catholics in Australia. by Dino Crescini