JUly 6, 2008
The crime of rape and the priesthood
Someone sent this text message relating to the alleged rape initiated by Catholic priest Gabriel Madangeng, Jr.: “Gud AM sir, coment q lng iti ibagbgam nga rapist priest. Ada met ketdi t Agpprape wid consent?”
I am not a lawyer; hence I sought the guidance of those in the law profession. I found out that technically, there is no such thing as rape with consent. The constitution relates that the elements constituting the crime of rape are carnal knowledge, force or intimidation and commission of the act against the will of a woman. So therefore, the consent of a woman to perform a sexual act is not considered rape, but consensual sex.
For us to have more understanding about the crime of rape, let me quote from a document shared to us by Mr. Edward Chumawar, Jr., a graduating law student from the University of the Cordilleras. I hope the following data based from Supreme Court cases and the Revised Penal Code will help:
“Rape may be classified into simple, qualified or statutory. When it is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, it is qualified. If committed without the attendance of any of the said qualifying circumstances, it is simple. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of consent as defined by statute. In this jurisdiction, twelve is the statutory age of consent.
The gravamen of statutory rape is merely carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve years of age. Force and intimidation are not its essential ingredients. They may be present or absent without affecting the criminality of the carnal knowledge. Non-consent of a female is not essential, nor consent a defense.
In statutory rape, proof of intimidation or force used on the victim, or lack of it, is immaterial. Thus, if the offended party is less than twelve years old, rape is committed although there is consent to the sexual act. For being of tender age, she does not have the will of her own and the law does not consider any kind of consent given by her voluntarily. “It is settled doctrine that carnal knowledge of a girl under twelve years of age is always rape, even if no force or intimidation is used and even if she is not deprived of reason or otherwise made unconscious, and even if she agrees or consents”. (People vs. Villegas, Jr. sup ra, People vs. Pelias Jover, 137 SCRA 160).”
“Priesthood is a gift. Therefore we live and give it as a gift,” said Catholic priest Marcial Castaneda in his earlier column. I would agree to this as I believe I myself wasn’t given the gift of becoming a priest-father. Though I wanted to become one, many circumstances led me to become a father to my son instead.
However, in relation to a case of rape being committed by a priest, I would like to comment on the line written by Fr. Castaneda. If priesthood were a gift, I think a priest should have a better understanding on how to act in a Christian way than other people who haven’t had the privilege of being widely introduced to the ways of Christ.
Fr. Marcs says Ordination to the priesthood …does not necessarily mean that one becomes an angel and later becomes omniscient and leaves his humanity. This is true. Who will not agree to it? However, again, if such is used to justify an alleged criminal act committed by a priest, I think this is difficult to accept. I don’t want to sound like I have a perfect understanding of Christianity but on the rational side of the issue, as Christians, we all strive to be like Christ. More so if one is a priest. Don’t we look up to priests and pastors as our teachers and guides in becoming better Christians? It is accepted that priests are not angels as they are humans and are prone to sin but to hear news about a priest committing a crime such as rape is another thing. We always commit sin but it is expected for us (Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Pagans alike) that we must strive hard to be perfect so as to avoid such grave acts as murder or rape. These kinds of conduct are condemned by society and are punishable by law.
If priests were formed and ordained not for a certain family but for the whole community, they are therefore expected to be responsible for their actions and do their best to show that they deserve the gift of the priesthood. How can one “preach the Gospel to the world” when he himself seemingly has no understanding of the Gospel? I say this as I understand that if one has knowledge of the Gospel, it would be difficult to do an act such as rape.
The community supports priests during their formation and all throughout their ministry by means of prayers and finances. In the case of Fr. Madangeng, the community indeed, has the responsibility to support him instead of finding faults against him. If to support and not find faults against him means to tolerate, ignore and give a blind eye to the alleged act, I would say this responsibility is useless. I rather would like to ask for the prayers of the community for the enlightenment of Fr. Gabby and for the people with knowledge of the facts to speak out for the truth to be known. And this, the community deserves. More next issue. (For remarks and suggestions including subscriptions around Baguio City, email email@example.com or send messages to 09105072896)