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Pampanga village celebrates feast every Good Friday

Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2013 - 12:00am

PAMPANGA, Philippines – While Catholics are accustomed to fast and abstain from eating meat on Good Friday to commemorate the passion of Christ, a predominantly Catholic village in San Fernando celebrates its fiesta with plenty of meat dishes on the hallowed day.

Residents of Barangay San Pedro Cutud started celebrating their fiesta every Good Friday in the 1960s, when local and foreign tourists started visiting the village to witness traditional Lenten practices, particularly the actual crucifixions in a “mini Golgotha” here.

Before the 1960s, residents religiously observed fasting and abstinence every Feb. 22, the feast of their patron St. Peter. Four other dates are also associated with commemorating the saint, but none falls on any day near Good Friday.

Kapampangan Catholic priests here seemed to have softened their views on the issue.

Retired Benedictine priest Fr. Ed Santos expressed tolerance for the Good Friday fiesta in the village, saying that like many Filipinos, most of the local folk have been fasting and abstaining all year round because of poverty.

But he noted that “fasting and abstinence is a canonical practice to remind us that we are under the Bishop, the Pope. Some priests say those who do not practice this commit mortal sins, while others say otherwise.”

The practice of fasting and abstinence is based on the 1966 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Paenitemini, and codified in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Abstinence is required throughout the year on Fridays although the bishops’ conferences in some areas allow other penitential acts. During Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstinence and fasting are also required of Catholics.

Fr. Sol Gabriel, a parish priest in Angeles City, has a similar view. He said, “I will not limit myself to that perspective (that village folk commit mortal sins for not fasting and abstaining on Good Friday).”

While noting that the Catholic Church prescribes fasting and abstinence on Good Friday, Gabriel also said he does not “condemn” San Pedro Cutud folk.

“Instead, they should be just told about the consequences of what they’re doing. It (Good Friday) is not for show and fiesta,” he added.

On one hand, Santos said Catholic authorities may “grant dispensation during fiestas.”

Santos, who is also a Kapampangan historian, recalled there was a time when local Church authorities granted San Pedro Cutud folk dispensation from fasting and abstinence on Good Friday. But “we just don’t know whether that dispensation has expired.”

Santos, however, stressed that the question of fasting and abstinence on Good Friday is “between your conscience and God.”

For his part, Gabriel said that while he does not condemn San Pedro Cutud folk for shelving fasting and abstinence on Good Friday, he noted that there is a need “to rectify the situation.”

“Some of the people are just ignorant (of Church laws), but they can celebrate without going against the laws of the Church,” he said, adding “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

 

ABSTINENCE ANGELES CITY APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION OF POPE PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH CODE OF CANON LAW DURING ASH WEDNESDAY AND GOOD FRIDAY FASTING GOOD GOOD FRIDAY SAN PEDRO CUTUD
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