"Fake" Philippines congregation warning
A bishop in the Philippines has warned that a "fake" 23-year-old Religious congregation based in his diocese has been recruiting seminarians and "unscrupulously" soliciting funds from as far afield as the US and Canada.
UCA News reports that the Sons/Sisters of Mary Adorers of the Holy Eucharist (SMAHE) congregation, reportedly headed by Fr Alejandre Galias, was "not correctly erected according to the rules of canon law," Bishop Arturo Bastes (pictured) said.
The Divine Word bishop issued a decree on 20 April warning his diocese against the group. He also sent warnings to the bishops' conferences in the US and Canada, where Fr Galias is believed to go "often" to raise funds.
Bishop Bastes said the group's head and founder solicits funds from government agencies and goes out of the country to raise funds for his three schools, seminary and orphanage.
Most of the recruits in his schools and seminary are "poor" girls and boys from Northern Samar and Leyte provinces in the central Philippines, Bishop Bastes said.
The 2004-2005 Catholic Directory of the Philippines lists Fr Galias as Supreme Prior of Sons of Mary Adorers of the Holy Eucharist, which reported 47 seminarians studying philosophy and five studying theology. The group lists some members as brothers and deacons.
Women are listed as sisters, with 15 reportedly having professed perpetual vows and 13 temporary vows. Another 19 are listed as novices, 13 as pre-novices and 21 as postulants.
However, SMAHE is not in the 2006-2007 Catholic directory, in which Fr Galias is listed as nulli stationi destinati, or "not assigned" in a parish. Bishop Bastes said the priest can say Mass unless he is "suspended."
The bishop said he issued his decree this year, because only last October did he learn the congregation is "fake."
A secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines called to ask the bishop if SMAHE is a congregation with "diocesan right." Bishop Bastes told the nuncio the diocese does not have records of its registration.
According to canon law, an institute of consecrated life is of diocesan right if it has been established by the diocesan bishop but has not obtained a decree of approval from the Holy See. Those of "pontifical right" were established or approved by the Holy See.
Bishop Declares 23-Year-Old Group A 'Fake Congregation' (UCA News, 19/7/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops ' Conference of the Philippines
Differences split Philippines missionary congregation (CathNews, 10/10/02)
20 Jul 2007