Friday, April 10, 2009

Bad Friday, if this is you

Dozens of Catholic devotees were nailed to crosses, scores more whipped their backs and others chanted the Passion of Jesus Christ as Filipinos mixed faith and gory ritual on Good Friday.

Frowned on by church authorities, the voluntary crucifixions in villages north of the capital Manila are one of the most extreme displays of religious devotion in Asia's largest Roman Catholic state.

Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the church discourages such rituals because the penitents were expecting rewards for hurting themselves.

"We only encourage the faithfuls to fast, pray and confess their sins," Quitorio told Reuters. "We can't stop the practice. It is not necessary, but the church has no police power. These rituals challenge us to guide our flock on the true teachings of the Catholic church."

In the small village of Cutud in Angeles City in Pampanga, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was re-enacted in a colorful street play with dozens of men carrying wooden crosses as heavy as 50 kg (110 pounds) and scores whipping their backs to a bloody pulp...

The atmosphere was festive, with hawkers selling bottled water, beer, ice-cream and souvenir whips. VIPs and some nuns watched from a specially elevated "viewing platform".
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm unaware of anyone who is asking you, Monsignor Quitorio, to exercise "police power". How about ecclesiastical power? I'm just certain that you don't think this self-flogging is meritorious, so why not make that impossible-to-miss clear? And then if your people continue to engage in such perversions of even your own conception of the Gospel, excommunicate them.
Else, how is anyone to know whether you really are in favor of this practice? Talk is cheap - how about a little action on Good Friday?
I can guarantee you one thing, my church would show no hesitation in excommunicating such men for rendering false witness of "their" Savior, thus showing they have no Savior at all other than themselves.

For those who have wholly fled from their dead works to the Cross of Christ, I wish you a Good Friday. Christ has died, glorify Him. Christ will rise, glorify Him!

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Don't quite know what to say about that. Eeeks!