Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan (File photo)

MANILA – The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro on Thursday warned the faithful from getting the services of a priest who was earlier suspended for attempting to contract a civil marriage.

“Regrettably I have learned that Fr. Melvin Clapano is being invited to celebrate mass in the homes and officiate house and office blessings within the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. Please refrain from inviting him and inform your parishioners and disseminate this information that he is prohibited and impeded by law to exercise his priestly ministry since he incurred a latae sententiae suspension by attempting to contract a civil marriage,” Archbishop Jose Cabantan said in a memorandum.

Cabantan said the priest’s predicament falls under the provisions of Canon 1394 §1 which states that a cleric who attempts marriage incurs automatic suspension and Canon 194 §1 n. 3 which states that a cleric who attempts marriage ipso facto loses any ecclesiastical office he may have.

“There were attempts in the past that he expressed his desire to return to active ministry but he is impeded due to a latae sententiae suspension which he incurred and only the Vatican can lift the penalty,” he said.

The memorandum added that Clapano recently joined the North American Old Catholic Church in California in the United States, whose members are "not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church" because they do not have the same faith, sacraments and ecclesiastical governance.

“Therefore it is a schismatic group. Catholics should not knowingly join masses celebrated by Fr. Melvin Clapano or receive sacraments from him or invite him to officiate blessings,” it said. (PNA)