VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Recycled online post SKEWS former CBCP president's statement on 'homily abuse'

Several Facebook pages recently revived an old misleading report by website The Daily Sentry (thedailysentry.net) that skews a three-year-old statement Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas made about "homily abuse."

Facebook pages The News Wire, The News Gear and News Punch Update reshared the post Daily Sentry published July 14 with the headline, "Bishop Villegas sa kapari-an (to priests): 'Stop the homily abuse.'"

The story uses as its source a 2015 GMA News Online report to claim that Villegas, then president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, had asked members of the clergy to avoid using homilies for "pamumulitika (politicking)...lalo na sa paninira ng mga ito sa kasalukuyang administrasyon (especially attacking the current administration)."

The Daily Sentry wrongly referred to Villegas as CBCP president in its 2018 story. His term ended in December 2017.

In an April 12, 2015 statement on his Facebook page, Villegas called on fellow priests to stop "homily abuse" which he described as delivering "long, winding, repetitious, boring, unorganized, unprepared, (and) mumbled" sermons.

The former CBCP president had also encouraged priests to keep "divisive election politics away from the lectern" but did not say priests should not "attack the current administration," as The Daily Sentry claims.

The misleading report resurfaced on Nov. 7, six days after President Rodrigo Duterte earned criticism for calling saints "stupid" and Catholics "drunkards" as Filipinos marked the Roman Catholic tradition of All Saints' Day on Nov. 1.

The report could have reached more than 1.9 million people.

The Daily Sentry was created Jan. 10.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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