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Boring homilies driving faithful away

Charismatic movements 'are charming people with more upbeat preaching'

The El Shaddai House of Prayer in Paranaque City (photo courtesy of El Shaddai)
The El Shaddai House of Prayer in Paranaque City (photo courtesy of El Shaddai)
  • by Lourdes Abelardo, Manila
  • Philippines
  • June 4, 2012
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The atmosphere in traditional churches needs to liven up as more and more faithful, disenchanted with boring homilies being delivered by priests, are defecting to charismatic movements, a retired bishop said.

Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches said at the weekend that people now prefer going to services conducted by Catholic charismatic movements because the preaching is much livelier, more topical and interesting.

“You’ll notice that even if speeches by charismatic preachers are long, people are alert, but when [priests] give long homilies, people are nodding off,” Bishop Bacani said during the 6th National Charismatic Congress in Manila’ s Pasay City.

He pointed to the number of attendees of a group called El Shaddai.

“A lot of people attend these gatherings,” said Bishop Bacani, who is a spiritual adviser to the group.

El Shaddai claims a following of three to seven million people in the country, although independent estimates put it much lower at two million.

Bishop Bacani said the Church doesn’t find the situation alarming, but it is a warning to priests to change the way they preach.

“There is a need for priests to have the same kind of spirituality to support their preaching, to study the Bible and to effectively communicate it to people,” he added.

Catholic charismatic movements emerged during the 1970s, offering spiritual renewal seminars, which have evolved under different names.

Among these groups are the Assumption Prayer Group, Soldiers of Christ, Couples for Christ and the El Shaddai.

In documents released by WikiLeaks last year, the US embassy in Manila considered El Shaddai and the Christian cult Iglesia Ni Cristo as two of the most politically influential groups in the Philippines with a combined voting
power of “two to three million.”

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