Catholic Philippines Sets Guidelines for Priests

Nov 20, 2003 10:44 AM EST

MANILA - Church leaders here have released a set of guidelines on sexual misconduct among priests, months after scandals involving two bishops rocked the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

Under the guidelines priests found to have fathered a child would not be automatically defrocked, but those siring two would be immediately asked to leave the Church.

Those found committing homosexual acts would be sent to a rehabilitation center run by the church, but if the offense was repeated they would be expelled at once, the guidelines said.

The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference (CBCP) was forced to come up with the protocol after two prominent bishops earlier this year were embroiled in sex scandals.

Bishop Crisostomo Yalung quit the clergy after fathering two children by a parishioner in Antipolo east of Manila while the Vatican (news - web sites) removed Teodoro Bacani, bishop of the northern Manila diocese of Novaliches, after allegations that he sexually harassed his secretary.

The Catholic Church for the first time last year publicly apologized for sexual abuses committed by Filipino priests, but insisted that a majority of clergymen remained faithful to their vows.

The Church admitted that some 200 priests had been investigated for sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. Some were dismissed, while most resigned voluntarily.