Catholic Diocese of Sacramento Once Again Allows an Accused Priest to Return to the Philippines; SNAP worries that he may hurt others there
For immediate release: March 23, 2022
On Friday, March 18, 2022, the Diocese of Sacramento quietly announced on its website that a clergyman had been removed for sexual misconduct. According to the statement, the cleric was also asked to return to his order, the Missionary Society of the Philippines, on the 18th. We find this development both disturbing and frustrating.
The Sacramento Diocese was apparently notified on March 8th that Fr. Percy Singco, Parochial Administrator of St. Patrick Parish in Weaverville, was accused of “inappropriate conduct with an adult woman.” The priest was removed from ministry two days later, “pending the outcome of an investigation.” As far as we can tell, there was neither an announcement of the complaint nor of the suspension, nor was there any outreach to parishioners at St. Patrick or at any other facility in the Diocese where Fr. Singco may have been assigned.
The investigation appears to have been concluded in record time, and the clergyman was found to have “violated diocesan policy regarding clergy conduct.” Fr. Singco had his faculties in the Diocese removed, and has since presumably returned to the Philippines. Yet five days after the very low-key announcement of this development, the priest has not been added to Sacramento’s list of abusers, despite the fact that the Diocese includes clergy who have abused adults.
We cannot help but fear that this omission will encourage Fr. Singco’s religious order and the bishops in his country to allow him to return to ministry, putting additional members of the Catholic faithful at risk. It would certainly not be the first time this has happened.
In 2017, the Sacramento Diocese acknowledged that it had received a “credible” allegation that another Filipino cleric, Fr. Renerio Sabuga, Jr., also known as Fr. Jong, had “conducted himself inappropriately with an adult.” Fr. Sabuga was also permitted to return to his home country, where he is apparently still working as a priest, to the possible detriment of parishioners. Fr. Sabuga also has yet to be added to the Diocese’s abuser list.
Sacramento-area SNAP Leader Dorothy Small, who was victimized by Fr. Sabuga, observed that this is nothing more than a reprisal of the discredited Catholic playbook for problem priests: use minimizing language to describe the accusations, keep the allegations as quiet as possible, discourage other victims from coming forward, move the offenders to a new location where they resume functioning as a priest. Dorothy added, “By not adding Frs. Sabuga and Singco to the Sacramento list, the Church is simply doing the same thing that they have always done with perpetrators: transferring them somewhere they can easily be returned to active ministry.”
Melanie Sakoda, SNAP’s Survivor Support Coordinator, also noted that this shows that the Catholic Church is failing to adequately screen the foreign-born priests it recruits to address this country’s priest shortage. Melanie, who lives in the territory of the Oakland Diocese, pointed out that of the four recent priests there who have been suspended by the Diocese and investigated by law enforcement, three were foreign born, Fr. Alexander Q. Castillo, Fr. Hector David Mendoza Vela, and Fr. Varghese (George) Alengadan. Frs. Castillo and Alengadan fled in the wake of law enforcement investigations and are believed to have returned to their home countries. Fr. Vela, who was reported to law enforcement first rather than the Church, was convicted and sent to prison. Only Fr. Vela appears on the Oakland Diocese’s list of abusers.
“If the Catholic Church is unable to prevent dangerous men from other countries from hurting people here, then it is past time for the federal authorities to begin taking a closer look at the Religious Worker Visa Program,” Melanie stated.
SNAP hopes that anyone abused by Fr. Singco, Fr. Sabuga, or any other Catholic clergyman will not suffer alone and in silence. We encourage survivors to share their truth with family, friends, law enforcement, or groups like ours.
CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento Area Leader, ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for almost 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)