MANILA – The bishop of the Metropolitan of the Ancient Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East Inc., clarified that the services provided by one of their priests are part of missionary duties.
“The masses and funeral services that he rendered to the people are part of the missionary endeavors that the Church is trying to respond to the religious needs of the people,” Bishop Mar-Shimmun Artemus Bar Kepha said in a letter to Novaliches Bishop Roberto Gaa dated Nov. 20.
The bishop added that they serve the people in the slums who cannot afford such services in Roman Catholic parishes.
“We use the ‘Qurbana Qaddisha’ for our liturgical rite and we strongly request our clergy to use it and inform the individuals attending the services that we’re of the Eastern jurisdiction of the Church. Only through invitations from our friends and those we personally know that we respond,” he said.
“So, from our side, we don’t give our names indiscriminately to funeral parlors or to any individual or institutions. We are serving mostly the informal settlers in small communities in Metro Manila, especially those who can’t avail of the high-paying services of the Roman Catholic parishes,” he added.
The letter was issued in response to a circular issued by Gaa last Nov. 19, cautioning the Roman Catholic faithful in the Novaliches diocese against one of its ordained priests, Fr. Alladin Castro.
“This Chancery has received information about a certain Fr. Alladin Castro who celebrates Mass in some Parishes in the Diocese. Fr. Alladin Castro is not an ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church,” Gaa said in the circular.
Gaa added that Castro “may not be invited to celebrate Mass or administer the sacraments in churches and semi-public oratories of this Diocese, not even funeral masses at funeral homes or to perform blessings.”
On the other hand, Kepha said they provide their services for free.
“We are invited to the different places to administer the sacraments without charge as we believe, ‘what is given free, must be given free’. In the spirit of Ecumenism, we will continue to work in parallel with the churches and religions in areas that we have our existing communities, so as to build, a deeper and lively Christian presence,” he said in the letter.
He said the Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East, the Ancient Aramaic jurisdiction of the Church, has been active in the Philippines since 1994.
“We have several missionary bishops and priests doing services all over the Philippines catering particularly to our poor brothers and sisters,” he added.
It also said Castro is working as a staff member of broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo, saying its policy is for clergy members to have a regular work to support their families.
Castro, in a separate message, also clarified his priestly status to “clear misinformation people who misled some faithful about the validity of his priestly ordination.”
“Instead of using the term ‘non-Roman Catholic priest’, the proper term is ‘an ordained priest of the Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East’ since the circular issued by the Diocese of Novaliches is official information of my priestly ordination origin,” he said.
Based on documents, Castro was ordained as a priest of the Metropolitan of the Ancient Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East Inc. on Dec. 13, 2013 which allows him to perform ecclesiastical functions such as celebrating Masses, preaching, and administering sacraments of baptism, penance, matrimony and anointing of the sick. (PNA)