Church, health reps: Avoid ‘extreme’ acts of penance
May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - March 31, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Two days to Good Friday, representatives from the religious community and the health department are “cautiously and gently” reminding the people not to go overboard in their practice of penitential traditions, such as by crucifying or scourging.

Rev. Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA, Province of Santo Niño de Cebu - Philippines Order of St. Augustine provincial secretary, said that while penitential practices are already considered a tradition to some Filipinos in some areas of the country, some are simply too much.

“There are extreme penitential activities nga gibuhat sa mga tawo. There are times nga masobraan na. That is why the church is gently reminding the people not to do more than what they can do,” he said during the weekly 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu yesterday.

He said the church has been clear on imposing only three acts considered as penitential practices — alms giving, prayer, and fasting.

“Kun magpenitensya ka, you should have an inner desire to change yourself. Mao kana ang important,” he said.

He said, though, that the church “respects the penitential traditions of the people” as it is their way of expressing their faith.

“Categorically speaking, the church does say no or does not prohibit the person in doing such act since we can’t really judge if the act of an extreme penitential practice is right or wrong,” Reyes said.

The region’s health department, on the other hand, said “extreme” penitential practices are risky and unsafe.

“Penitential practices, such as crucifying yourself, subjects one to so much pain or severe pain. Delikado ni siya because it could cause complications and (physical) harm,” said Dr. Jeanette Pauline Arellano-Cortes of the Department of Health-7.

She said harmful penitential activities are not encouraged since the resulting wounds may lead to serious injuries.

“Kung kusog pagkabunal, posible pud siya magka-bone fracture,” Cortes said.

She said crucifying or whipping oneself with nail or spikes, for example, could possibly lead to skin bruises, tetanus infection, or even internal bleeding.

And aside from physical pain, the health official said, such acts may also cause psychological trauma and affect the mental state of the person.

“It is not healthy physically and even mentally. Possible magka-trauma pud ka, unless kun decided jud ka nga magpalatos ka or magpalansang ka,” Cortes said.

“Kun desidido ka magpenitensiya, kun nagbasol ka sa imong mga sala, you can do that in some other ways. You can do other things and not just to inflict pain in yourself,” she added.

She, however, also agreed that the call whether to engage in extreme acts of penance or not ultimately lies at the hands of the person.

“It’s their own decision at their own risk,” she said. — /RHM (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ATILDE DR. JEANETTE PAULINE ARELLANO-CORTES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GOOD FRIDAY KUN MARCO POLO PLAZA CEBU NEWS FORUM PENITENTIAL PHILIPPINES ORDER OF ST. AUGUSTINE PROVINCE OF SANTO NI RIC ANTHONY REYES
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