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Bishops frown on penitent crucifixions

Government says it cannot stop the practice

Bishops frown on penitent crucifixions
Filipinos in the province of Pampanga reenact the passion of Christ (Photo by Joe Torres) reporter, Manila

March 26, 2013

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Authorities announced that at least 24 "penitents" are expected to be nailed on the cross on Good Friday, an annual ritual meant to atone for sins and give thanks to God for blessings.
But the country's Catholic bishops on Tuesday warned the faithful against resorting to extreme forms of sacrifice on Good Friday, including crucifixion and self-flagellation.
"Let us concentrate more on the prayers.... These are the wonderful ways of celebrating the Holy Week," said Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, president of the bishops' conference.
The prelate said the real spirit of the observance of the Holy Week is "conversion of oneself."
Bishop Joel Baylon, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth, also reminded the faithful that there are "other forms of sacrifice and suffering that would lead to real conversion."
"The Lord appreciates all these forms of sacrifices, but sometimes the kind of sacrifice that we impose on ourselves... is not what the Lord wants us to do," he said.
Although the Catholic Church decries the ritual, the government says it cannot stop devotees from crucifying and whipping themselves. 
The health department has already warned those taking part in the rituals to have tetanus shots and to only use sterilized nails.

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