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St. John’s Institute officials seek Vatican’s help

Officials of St. John’s Institute, also known as Hua Ming, will bring the issue of stripping of the school’s Catholic status by Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon to the Vatican.
The officials led by Board of Trustees chairman Benjamin Lopue Jr. expressed their dismay over Buzon’s decision.
On May 10, Buzon declared SJI is no longer a Catholic school, adding that the Diocese has decided to pull out its ministry from the school following the failed negotiations between the Church and the institution over the ownership of the property on which the Queen of Peace Parish Church stands.
With the departure of the ministry, Buzon said the parish will become a private structure where the school can no longer hold masses and other sacraments.
Lopue said the decision of the Diocese to pull out the ministry and declaring SJI as no longer a Catholic school “shocked” them, adding that it is “unfair” and “uncatholic.”
Board member Andre Palanca slammed Buzon, claiming that the bishop is using “religious blackmail” and seemed to be “very vindictive” towards the school. He said Buzon is apparently not concerned with his flock because he did not reach out to them.
With this development, SJI officials said they will elevate the matter to the highest Catholic church authority, the Vatican, as the act of Buzon was “unbecoming of a bishop.”
SJI officials said the church, which will be “de-parished” by the Diocese by the end of the month, will still be a place of worship sans mass, and the school will continue to use it as a place of worship.
Moreover, BOT president Cesar Villanueva said the SJI will be a lay Catholic school, adding that the institution will continue to teach Christian Living Education to its students.
Villanueva also said the school will hold prayers and will organize Catholic organizations for the students.
Palanca added that the separation of the school from the church will not affect its curriculum as SJI has academic freedom.