March 16, 2005

Priest accused of rapes finds prominence

The Dallas Morning News

10:31 PM CST on Tuesday, March 15, 2005

By BROOKS EGERTON / The Dallas Morning News

CEBU, Philippines Here in the cradle of Asia's lone Catholic stronghold, the Rev. Cristobal Garcia is one of the most prominent faces of the church.

It's a far cry from his despair of 20 years ago, when the Dominican religious order expelled him after a nun told police that an altar boy had been found in his bed in a Los Angeles rectory. The priest fled to his hometown Cebu Archdiocese which, despite a warning from the Dominicans, put him to work anyway, with children, and persuaded the Vatican to honor him with the title "monsignor."
Respected leader

Cebu Cardinal Ricardo Vidal also has allowed Monsignor Garcia to form a monastic religious society, whose young male recruits call him their "supreme motivator." The Society of the Angel of Peace is based in a village outside Cebu, where the priest also oversees a chapel, a children's Sunday school program and a squad of altar boys.

"I don't think they [Filipino Catholic leaders] have the same standards or concerns we do," said lawyer Lynne Goodwin, who defended the Dominicans in a 1988 lawsuit filed by one of Monsignor Garcia's former altar boys. "I don't think there's any consequence for bad action."

Cardinal Vidal is not available for interviews, aides said. He has not responded to written questions.

Posted by kshaw at March 16, 2005 05:56 AM