Saturday, March 20, 2010

Church and government spar over public crucifixion

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UCAN) — San Pedro, scene of stage crucifixions each Good Friday, has this year banned foreigners from taking part in the ritual which is frowned on by the Church. [This is confusing. The journalist starts his lead with Quezon City then he is actually writing about a story in San Pedro, Pampanga a town more than 60 kilometers North of Quezon City!]

Councilor Jimmy Lazatin said the move was designed to keep the ritual’s “solemnity.” He said a tourist last year had made fun of the “rites.” [When did a public crucifixion become solemn, huh?  Even in Christ's time it was not.  Only in the eyes of Christ's beloved who were at the foot of the cross was the event moving and solemn!]

Despite its popularity, the archdiocese frowns on the tradition known as the Cutud. [Well, of course it would!]

“The Cutud is a tourist activity drawing thousands of people yearly but does nothing for the teachings of the Church,” said Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David of San Fernando, Pampanga province.

“The archdiocese tolerates the Cutud, but would rather it not take place.

“It is folk religiosity but not one we favor at all,” he said.

“Whether or not foreigners take part in the ceremony is no concern to us [diocesan Church officials],” Bishop David said. He added that crucifixion is “not good” for anyone.

Public crucifixions in San Pedro Cutud village, 70 kilometers from Manila, began in 1962 when aspiring faith healer Artemio Anoza, acting as Christ in a play had himself nailed to a cross.

On Good Friday, officials of San Pedro in San Fernando organize the Cutud festival attempting to reenact the passion and death of Christ.

Thousands watch and take part in various forms of Holy Week “penitentiary rite” including flagellation, carrying a cross up a hill and being nailed to it.

Father Arnulfo Serrano, parish priest of Santo Nino parish near San Pedro, told UCA News his parish has no interest in Cutud and focuses on liturgical celebrations of the Church.

“The Church does not sanction these private pious acts” and parishioners know it, the pastor said.

“When some of my parishioners join the scourging on Holy Thursday, most cover their faces so we would not recognize them,” he said.

He notes some flagellants believe they are doing “penance” and strengthening their faith.  [Has anyone heard of a better and less bloody option called Sacrament of Penance / Reconciliation?]

Priests make themselves available for extra hours hearing confessions and inviting Catholics to fast and do charitable work, he said.

“Some of our practices for Lent and Holy week have a rich tradition here, such as Dakit Kordero,” Father Serrano pointed out.

“We use all the official rites of the Church as well and do not need the Cutud,” the parish priest said.

The Dakit is a reenactment of the Last Supper.


The Church cannot do anything about this as it is a private pious devotion done in the streets which is ironic.

The government has no plans of outlawing it since:  it is the right of the penitent as a freedom of religious expression and, here's I think is for them the better part, draws a lot of tourists to their place.

1 comment:

  1. I think banning foreigners is very discriminatory. Let the tourists come but let them be aware that THEY HAVE TO RESPECT local religious customs.

    In India, Malaysia and Indonesia, there are similar practices among the Hindus. The religious rites are tourist draws but the tourists are expected to respect the local customs.

    But it is really in poor taste to gawk at such spectacles.