Priests told to shun ‘commercialism’ of sacraments

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MANILA, Oct. 26, 2012—A Catholic archbishop has called on the clergy to avoid the impressions of ‘commercialism of the sacraments’ particularly this coming All Saints Day.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said sacraments are not to be celebrated in exchange for money.

“The trafficking for money in spiritual things is simony. It is a sin,” Villegas said in a circular issued to his priests.

He said the celebration of sacraments is not for the convenience of priests but to make the spiritual goods of the Church more available to the faithful “without undue difficulties.”

The archbishop, however, emphasized that the sacramentals must be made available to the people within the bounds and parameters of liturgical theology.

He also said that there should be no “prejudiced distinctions” between the rich and the poor or between those “close” to the priests and those who are not.

This coming commemoration of the faithful departed, Villegas said that Mass must be celebrated in all Catholic cemeteries, and when pastorally possible in memorial parks and public cemeteries, within Oct. 31 until Nov. 2 “at the time when most of the people can participate.’

“It is prohibited to collect any donations for the individual blessing of graves. It is prohibited to conduct ‘special blessing of graves’ for friends of priests and benefactors of the Church within October 31 to November 2 period,” Villegas said.

He added that copies of the “Order of Family Prayers on Visiting the Cemetery” must be reproduced by the parishes and distributed to the faithful before the Mass “free of charge.”

“It is prohibited to sell the copies of the prayer,” said Villegas, who is the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The prelate also said that lay ministers or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) and seminarians are not allowed to officiate at blessings of graves.

“Violation of this rule may be meted with penalty including perpetual disqualification from being an EMHC or being considered irregular candidates for ordination,” according to Villegas.

“The annual commemoration of the faithful departed is a loved and cherished Filipino Catholic tradition. Let us allow this pious tradition to lead us and our flock to the path of holiness,” he said. (RL/CBCPNews)



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