Cardinal Tagle of Manila hits 'kings' who use violence

In his Holy Week message, Philippine President Duterte tells Filipinos to help the oppressed
Cardinal Tagle of Manila hits 'kings' who use violence

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila blesses palm fronds on Palm Sunday, the first day of the observance of Holy Week in the Philippines. (Photo by Maria Tan)

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has spoken out against "kings who use violence" to intimidate the weak as he led Palm Sunday celebrations that kicked off Holy Week observance in the Philippines.

In his homily during early-morning Mass for the blessing of palm fronds in Manila, the prelate poured scorn on leaders "full of cockiness and devoid of humility."

"Today, many follow the kings who use violence, arms and intimidation but are without any understanding and oneness with the weak," said the Manila archbishop.

Without naming names, the cardinal urged leaders to emulate Jesus Christ's example of humility in leadership.

"Our king does not rely on violence, in arms, in swords, in bullets or guns. Our king trusts in God alone," said the prelate.

He said "true authority" comes from the "serene dignity and silence of a person who trusts in God and who is in full solidarity with sinful humanity."

The cardinal urged Catholics to take advantage of Holy Week to get to know Jesus more deeply. "Let us focus on Jesus. Let us look and listen to him to get to know him again," he said.

 A penitent wearing a mask and dressed as a Roman soldier joins a Holy Week observance in the province of Marinduque. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)

 

Duterte tells Filipinos to help the oppressed

In his own Holy Week message, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to help the oppressed.

“Let us remember to always help and uplift the downtrodden because it is only through charitable actions that we can make God's presence visible among us," said the president.

He also called for unity among Filipinos to be able to "build a truly equitable and inclusive nation where everyone can enjoy a decent and comfortable life."

The president said Christ's resurrection should also be a reminder for Filipinos that the country "deserves salvation from social ills" such as drugs, criminality and corruption.

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Human rights groups, however, claimed that Duterte's "war against drugs" has resulted in the killing of thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers.

 

Holy Week not about religious traditions

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, a critic of the president’s anti-narcotics campaign, said Holy Week should not only be about religious traditions and pious practices.

“[Holy Week] is about what Christ has done for humanity,” said the prelate, adding that the week is "holy because of love."

"Love alone can make us holy," said the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan. He said one can show love by visiting the sick aside from traditional church visits.

"Instead of spilling your blood on the streets, why not walk into a Red Cross office and donate blood? Choose to share life. Share your blood," he said.

"Do we need to walk barefoot till our soles get blisters as a form of penance for our sins?” he asked.

“Why don’t you buy a pair of slippers and give it to a child who goes to school dragging his torn footwear?" added the prelate.

A procession of devotees and flagellants, who sometimes have themselves nailed on crosses, has become a tourist attraction in some Philippine provinces during the Holy Week. (Photo by Vincent Go)

 

Weeklong vacation for Filipinos

Holy Week has become an opportunity for Filipino families to take a vacation from work and school.

Thousands of city residents usually troop to the provinces for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observance.

The government has declared Thursday and Friday as national holidays, although many private companies allow employees to take a leave as early as Wednesday.

On Maundy Thursday, Filipinos attend the last Mass before Easter, which is highlighted by the reenactment of the washing of the feet of the apostles.

The traditional Visita Iglesia or church visit starts after Maundy Thursday rituals. People then visit at least seven churches, supposedly to meditate on the Way of the Cross.

The trip is a good excuse for families to go sightseeing, stay out all night, some praying inside churches, many outside, enjoying the summer breeze.

Good Friday observance is usually observed with the Way of the Cross, and the recitation and reflection on the Seven Last Words, usually by eloquent speakers, including politicians and actors.

A passion play called the Senakulo is staged in many towns in the afternoon, followed by a procession of devotees and flagellants who sometimes have themselves nailed on crosses.

A weeklong, round-the-clock, chanting marathon of the narrative of Jesus' life, passion, death, and resurrection is also an attraction in towns and cities.

Easter Sunday starts with an early morning procession and ends with feasts and picnics that are filled with singing and dancing to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

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