Wednesday, June 20, 2012
MANILA — Accused of diverting millions of funds of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paranaque, Bishop Jesse Mercado said Wednesday that he will not hold on to the post if Vatican finds him guilty and ill-fit to stay.
According to Mercado, he serves at the pleasure of Pope Benedict XVI and will not hesitate from resigning if he is asked by the latter.
“I am always at the service of the Church and if the Holy Father thinks that I am not anymore (fit to serve), anytime,” Mercado said.
But while bowing to the power of the Pontiff, the bishop vehemently denied the accusations supposedly made by some of his priests and lay people in Paranaque.
“All donations are properly receipted and promptly turned over to their intended beneficiaries,” Mercado said.
“The Diocese of Paranaque is audited annually by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and receives a 100-percent rating,” he added.
Last Monday, reports came out that the priests and lay people of the Paranaque diocese have asked Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto to probe Mercado over alleged misuse of funds and, if possible, remove him from his post.
Mercado’s accusers said they want him to explain what happened to the funds concerning donations for Typhoon Ondoy (P1,368,236); Haiti earthquake (P168,891); Muntinlupa fire victims (P129,201); Tropical Storm Sendong (P970,589); National Youth Day (P306,123); and Alay Kapwa (P399,942).
They said this is in violation of the Canon 1300, which states that “the intentions of the faithful who give or leave goods to pious causes…once lawfully accepted, are to be most carefully observed, even in the manner of the administration and the expending of the goods…”
When asked what could be the motive of his accusers in making such accusations, the 61-year-old prelate described it as a “desperate” move by a “small group.”
“I think there are some priests who are just desperate… Some did not like what they received, what they got. That is part of the issue. They did not like it so they question,” Mercado said.
He noted that out of the 53 priests in the diocese, only five or six have “some difficulties.”
The prelate said he is ready to face Pinto if the latter finds it necessary.
“When needed, why not? Because I have nothing to hide. He is the representative of the Holy Father. I think, in the end, I will have to talk to him,” Mercado said. (HDT/Sunnex)