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Predatory Priests and Bad Bishops

Amidst the revelation of Bishops behaving badly, another serious matter involving men of God has cropped up. In Agusan del Norte, a 17-year-old girl has accused a Catholic priest of rape. It makes my blood boil at how this priest, Father Raul Cabonce, took advantage of this girl’s situation. The priest’s offer to help with her education was a ploy to sexually abuse her. Considering the value the girl and her family so earnestly placed on education, the fact that the priest took advantage of her is particularly sickening.

In live broadcast interviews on Friday and Saturday on DXBR Bombo Radyo Butuan, the victim explained how she was raped by Cabonce on February 3 and on March 14.

She alleged that on Feb. 3, Cabonce ordered her to massage him and then the priest requested for oral sex.

The victim said that after she refused to give in to the request, Cabonce raped her.

Moreover, the victim said that on March 14, Cabonce called her again and ordered her to massage him. Again, the priest raped her.

Sobbing during the radio interview, the victim claimed that when she returned home in September last year, she told her parents that the suspect had started to caress her and touch her private parts.

She said her mother advised her then to take care of herself as it was unwise to stop her studies in the middle of the school year just to avoid the priest, who earlier offered to send her to school if she would agree to work at his convent.

Poverty had forced her to accept Cabonce’s offer, the girl said.

And of course, “Father” Raul Cabonce (doesn’t it make your skin crawl to have the word Father associated with this asshole?) is denying the charges, even challenging people to check the background of the victim’s family.

In a radio interview, Fr. Raul Cabonce, the parish priest of Tubay, said “I categorically deny allegations of rape hurled against me… please check the background of the family of the victim first before judging me.”

Meanwhile, the victim and her family are under the care of Gabriela and the Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM), who are helping file the case against the dastardly priest. I find it heartening that the Missionary Sisters of Mary are helping someone who was victimized by a fellow member of the cloth. In fact, I can’t help but wonder why these women would stay in a church so obviously misogynistic, a church that never lets women become ordained priests themselves, but in any case, I am glad that they are helping the victim of this systemic failure of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

It was a simple failure to send a clear message to priests that abuse of any kind would not stand; it was a clear failure of moral leadership. It is telling that while Bacani can so blithely call same-sex marriage “kadiri”, there has been no response from any ranking bishops on this allegation of rape. There was no condemnation of Cabonce whatsoever; he was not even suspended from his parish to properly allow for investigation.

Will the church ever learn? Despite all the incriminating investigations, despite all the lucid reports, despite all the pain that has stemmed from these abuses, these supposed holy men’s answer to any accusation has always been ‘no’ or ‘how dare you.’ I hope for the sake of the abused that the Roman Catholic church learn to be better people not just out of shame, but out of the actual moral enlightenment they squawk so often about.

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