THE outspoken Archbishop of Lipa, Ramon Arguelles, has resigned, months after getting a well-publicized rebuke from the Vatican over the authenticity of alleged Marian apparitions in a Carmelite monastery in 1948.
The Vatican announced on Thursday that the bishop of Daet, Gilbert Garcera, 58, had been appointed by Pope Francis as the new metropolitan archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lipa in Batangas.
No reason was given for Arguelles’ sudden resignation, but the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines noted that the prelate resigned three years ahead of the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Arguelles, who served the Lipa archdiocese for almost 13 years, was a vocal opponent of the death penalty, divorce and the Reproductive Health bill, among other national issues.
His November 2009 decree lifting the ban on the public veneration of the image of “Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace” and forming a new commission to reexamine the 1948 apparitions was welcomed by Marian devotees, but apparently did not sit well with the Vatican.
In September 2015, Arguelles released an official statement approving the apparitions, and declared “that the events and apparition of 1948 also known as the Marian phenomenon in Lipa and its aftermath even in recent times do exhibit supernatural character and is worthy of belief.”
Arguelles’ declaration was overruled by the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which issued a decree in December 2015 stating that the apparitions to a Carmelite postulant, Teresita Castillo, were a hoax.
The decree, made public in June 2016, also ordered that “any and all commissions studying the question of the alleged supernatural phenomenon of the alleged apparitions in the Carmel of Lipa be immediately disbanded.”
The CDF disclosed previously sealed findings of a probe it conducted from 1949 to 1951, in which the prioress of the Carmelite convent supposedly admitted to “deception.”
It also revealed for the first time that Pope Pius XII himself had confirmed the results of the CDF investigation, which meant that the apparitions could no longer be examined.