Msgr. Arnel Fuentes Lagarejos, the priest who was arrested for trafficking a female minor and allegedly tried to draw a gun upon arrest in Marikina, has been relieved from his posts.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Monday, July 31, that Lagarejos was stripped of his duties as parish priest of St. John The Baptist Parish and as president of Cainta Catholic College.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said CBCP’s National Tribunal is studying every angle about Lagarejos’ case, as allegations of child abuse is considered a very serious offense for the Catholic church.
Cruz emphasized that the church will not tolerate such immorality.
Cruz told DZMM: “‘Yung pagkakasala sa kabataan, mabigat na mabigat pong kaso ‘yan para sa simbahan. That is a grim and very serious offense, na ‘yung menor de edad ay pagsamantalahan.” [The church considers offenses towards the youth as a serious case. That is a grim and very serious offense, to take advantage of a minor].
The church will finish gathering evidences and testimonies from people with direct knowledge on the case, not ‘hearsays,’ before Cruz submits the files to Rome.
Cruz said during a radio interview with ‘Kabayan’ that the decision on whether or not to punish Msgr. Lagarejos lies in the Vatican.
“It does not mean he is guilty before proven innocent. He is innocent until proven guilty,” the archbishop stressed.
The church leader also said that priests and bishops are not saints, and are also prone to mistakes. Cruz asked the Catholics to pray for the clergymen who face challenges in their duty.
Watch ‘Kabayan’ Noli De Castro’s interview with Archbishop Cruz via Youtube: