A bishop in Manila has warned Catholics against giving money to priests out in cemeteries blessing tombs on All Souls' Day. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said "fake priests" might take advantage of the occasion to make money out of people's generosity. Every year, Filipinos troop to cemeteries on the first and second day of November to visit the tombs
of their departed loved ones. Bishop Pabillo said that while Catholic priests will hold Masses for the dead in cemeteries and bless tombs, they should not be asking for money. "Sometimes priests are not the ones who bless the tombs, there are seminarians and lay ministers," said the bishop. Bishop Pabillo who heads the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the bishops' conference
said Catholics themselves can do the blessing of the tombs. "Some parishes give out a copy of the prayer for the dead that you can take to the cemetery and recite there. They can also bring holy water which they can sprinkle on tombs," said the prelate. While All Souls' Day falls on Nov. 2 based on the church's liturgical calendar, Filipinos traditionally observe the Day of the Dead on Nov. 1, All Saints' Day
. Theologian, Father Charles Belmonte, however, said what is supposed to be a solemn remembering of the dead has turned into merrymaking. "People in the Philippines are openly pious, but there is a need for a greater understanding of the Christian reverence for the dead as well as of the meaning of Christian death," said the priest. He noted that people might have forgotten the significance of the commemorations "as seen in the general lack of atmosphere of prayer in cemeteries." The two-day public holiday called "Undas" has become an opportunity for Filipinos not only to pay their respects to the dead but also to reunite with families in the provinces. The observance of Undas, from the Spanish "andas" or Day of the Dead, began when Spanish friars first came to the country. A week before the observance, authorities set up assistance centers at ports, terminals and major thoroughfares across the country as millions troop to their hometowns. Oscar Albayalde, head of the Philippine National Police, said 32,000 policemen will man the assistance centers with the help of at least 87,000 auxiliaries from local government units, civic action groups, civilian volunteer organizations and motoring clubs.
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According to police, more than 14.5 million Filipinos are expected to troop to various cemeteries and memorial parks across the country this year.