SPAIN--A former Spanish priest quietly ousted twice in the US
For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016
A priest who spent at least three years in Spain has been ousted from ministry in two US dioceses for having “inappropriate images of students” in one and having “inappropriate conduct with parishioners” in the other. Now, his whereabouts are unknown. We fear he may have hurt parishioners in all or some of the six places he worked or studied. And we fear he’s still on the job in a parish somewhere.
An on-line biography of Fr. Peter Balili says that he “earned a Doctorate in Theology at the University of Navarra, Spain, under the auspices of the Opus Dei Fathers. He stayed in Navarra for three years where he developed a fluency in Spanish.
But a Missouri newspaper reports that Fr. Balili has been quietly sent away from:
--the diocese of Belleville Illinois, his most recent assignment, with no notice or explanation to parishioners, and
--the Archdiocese of San Francisco California, again, with no notice or explanation to parishioners.
This is stunningly reckless and callous.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops also sent a warning about Fr. Balili to all bishops in the US. But, as best we can tell, not a single church official has ever warned the police, prosecutors, parishioners or the public about Fr. Balili.
We fear he is probably working now among unsuspecting colleagues and congregants in Spain, Seattle or South Carolina.
And Catholic officials try to convince us they’re changing and being more “transparent.” Hardly.
No Catholic official in any of the five places where Fr. Balili spent time has bothered to alert Catholics or citizens about him and or detail the accusations against him. “The Belleville Diocese dismissed him because of instances of what it viewed as ‘inappropriate conduct regarding certain of his parishioners.’ The notice did not specify the nature of that conduct or the age of the parishioners,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
We’ve seen this kind of language time and time again used by Catholic officials. It usually refers to sexual misdeeds or crimes. But bishops owe their flocks more honesty than this.
Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton and his counterparts - Tarazona Bishop Eusebio Hernandez Sola, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann and San Bernadino Bishop Gerald Barnes – to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by Fr. Balili and get them to call police, prosecutors, therapists, support groups or other independent sources of help.
And Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Yuzon Medroso, along with church officials in Tupi (Fr.Balili’s home town in south Cotabato) should do the same.
We beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or misdeeds by Fr. Balili, or any priest in Spain, California or elsewhere - to show courage, call police, protect others and start healing.
(Fr. Balili was once with a religious order called Opus Dei Fathers and was also affiliated with a group called “Shrines of Europe Pilgrimage.” A native of the Philippines, he worked at two southern Illinois parishes: St. Mary’s in Sesser and St. Andrew’s in Christopher. He also worked in parishes in two California dioceses - San Bernardino and San Francisco - and studied in Orange, California for six years in the 1990s.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Removal of international Catholic priest from Belleville Diocese kept quiet locally
By Jesse Bogan, 2/22/16
CHRISTOPHER, Ill. • Southern Illinois farming communities produce a lot of corn and soybeans, but not many priests these days.
The Belleville Diocese, the organization that oversees Roman Catholic churches in the region, depends on the church’s international ties to recruit missionary priests from across the globe. In Latin, they are called fidei donum, or gift of faith.
The Rev. Peter Balili, of the Philippines, was one such gift, with a tough assignment. He was called to replace the Rev. Steven F. Poole, who was arrested in 2010 for theft.
By many accounts, Balili was a good-hearted priest who was well-liked at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Christopher and St. Mary’s in Sesser, both small towns near Rend Lake. And not just because he kept the parishes alive amid pressures to close churches in remote areas.
Balili seemed to have the spirit to lead his flock out of an embarrassing time. He’d sing “You are my sunshine” and interact with parishioners of all ages.
Then, without fanfare, he left . . .