No offense found in Dominican priest’s religious mockery case due to insufficient information — court

Art by Janssen Judd Romero/THE FLAME

THE REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) has ordered the amendment of the prosecution against a Dominican priest and UST Faculty of Sacred Theology instructor who allegedly mocked the supposed apparition of the Virgin Mary in Lipa City, saying the accusations lacked valid information for conviction.

In May, Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. was arrested after former Commission on Elections chief and Mary Mediatrix of All Grace devotee Harriet Demetriou filed a complaint against him for “consistently mocking” the Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, whom she believes appeared in Lipa.

READ: (UPDATED) Dominican priest arrested for ‘offending religious feelings’

A RTC National Capital Region order dated Aug. 29 said that Cabading did not commit the grounds for Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code or provision on offending religious feelings because Demetriou’s complaints failed to state facts which constitute a criminal offense.

Under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, performing acts “notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful” is considered a crime if it was done “in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony.”

But the court said no object of veneration was damaged or destroyed by Cabading in a religious ceremony nor was there any religious ceremony when the Dominican priest committed the recital of the alleged acts filed by the complainant.

The court said that the act was performed in a program or a podcast uploaded on Facebook and not during a religious ceremony or practice, such as masses, baptism, prayers and readings.

It cited Cabading’s statements, which the court said were not his own and therefore not punishable by law.

“And the petals, they are not unique, just like the Lipa apparition, the Vatican said, it is not from God…So, by that alone, they are not true Marian devotees listening to the Church. They only want to listen to their own. They listen if it pleases them, they reject what they do not agree with. So they become the basis of truth, not the discernment of the Church,” Cabading said in the live stream.

“The statements were not notoriously offensive, there was no scoffing and do not appear to ridicule. It was not a personal conviction but that which is stated by the Vatican,” the court said.

The prosecutor was given 30 days from receipt of the order to amend the complaint against Cabading as Section 4, Rule 117 of the Rules of the Court grants the prosecution an opportunity to correct its defects. Failure to do so would lead to the dismissal of the case, the court said. F

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