Bishops warn public against fake priests-A A +A
Monday, October 31, 2011
MANILA -- Catholic prelates have warned the public against certain individuals introducing themselves as priests at cemeteries during the observance of All Saints' Day.
Many Filipinos flocked to cemeteries and memorial parks nationwide to offer prayers for their departed loved ones and friends in observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Bishop Pedro Arigo said some bogus priests roam cemeteries on this day to conduct blessing rituals on the grave of a deceased person then ask money from visiting relatives.
"Napakagandang samantalahin ang undas ng mga nagpapanggap na pari para kumita ng pera... Mag-ingat ang publiko at huwag basta magtiwala sa mga pumupunta sa puntod para magbasbas (All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is an opportunity for fake priests to make money…The public is warned not to trust priest who visits and blesses tomb)," Arigo told Church-run Radyo Veritas.
Arigo said the public could easily identify a real priest from a fake one by asking for his celebret, an identification card issued by the Church.
To prevent such incidents from happening in his diocese, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said he has asked security guards in cemeteries to check for the celebret of priests who are assigned to conduct blessings.
Caritas Manila Executive Director Fr. Anton Pascual said priests bless the graves of deceased persons only during burials, unless the family request for it on All Saints' Day.
Filipinos flock to cemeteries and memorial parks nationwide in observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Authorities said this is in keeping with a centuries-old tradition of paying homage to departed loved ones by offering candles and flowers at their graves.
As early as Saturday, many have inched their way to the cemeteries such as the Holy Cross Memorial Park in Novaliches, Quezon City; Manila North Cemetery in Sta. Cruz, Manila; and similar places in Cebu City, Davao City and the province of Basilan.
Church leaders said Tuesday’s celebration is a time when superstition blends with religion as dishes of food are left on family tables and candles are lighted at doorsteps to welcome departed loved ones believed to visit the homes they once shared with those whom they left behind.
All Saints’ Day remains one of the most beloved and enduring Philippine traditions dating back to ancestral times that continue to cross generations and reunite families in the burial grounds of loved ones against a background of a million lighted candles, an observance that continues to strike a welcome chord of celebration, especially among the nation’s youth, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The CBCP also launched over the weekend the Undas Online for Filipinos abroad who can’t visit the cemeteries.
On Tuesday, the church offers continued masses for the dead for the rest of the month starting November 1 but without obliging attendance among Catholics except on years when November 1 falls on a Sunday.
In the provinces, many families continue to visit their departed loved ones on November 2, All Souls’ Day, in rites that continue to carry a more solemn note, miles away from the prevailing All Saints’ Day hysteria in the cities.
In metropolitan areas like Cebu and Manila, thousands have already flocked to cemeteries a day before the All Saints’ Day observance after government declared Monday as a non-working holiday.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has ensured maintaining peace and order in airport and bus terminals, days leading to Tuesday’s celebration to ensure the safety of families travelling outside of Metro Manila.
PNP spokesman Agrimero Cruz said police visibility is keenly palpable not only in every street corner in all streets approaching memorial grounds in the cities not only to keep traffic flowing, but inside the cities of the dead to make sure that nobody is allowed to bring alcohol, guns, and other weapons to guarantee the safety of the expected huge crowds.
Cruz said no untoward incidents have been reported so far in big cemeteries in Metro Manila. Cruz said 6,000 policemen and 1,000 soldiers are scattered in cemeteries in Metro Manila to maintain peace and order. (PNA/Sunnex)