Cebu News

Archdiocese to check other Cebu churches

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Archdiocese of Cebu will check other churches in Cebu that, like the Boljoon town church, may have lost valuable items, too, as it asked antique collectors in possession of religious heirlooms to return them, saying they are integral parts of the history, heritage and faith of the locality.

This came after four of the six pulpit panels of the Patrocinio de Maria Santisima church in Boljoon that was lost for a long time resurfaced last week after being donated by private collectors to the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).

When the news reached Cebu, Governor Gwen Garcia expressed her intent to have the panels returned to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Patrocinio de Maria Santisima, or more popularly known as the Boljoon church.

The Archdiocese of Cebu then expressed oneness with the Cebu provincial government and the people of Boljoon in the call for the return of the lost panels.

Asked by The Freeman if there may be other churches that lost heirlooms, too, Archbishop Jose Palma said that is something they would be looking into.

“We may check with other churches…. In fact, I will not mention a diocese, sometimes, careless…mga simbahan bukas pirmi…. Careless. These objects (religious heirlooms attract (unsavory characters),” he said.

“Ang mga pari, sayod man unta ta nga instead nga i-neglect lang, we should be extra careful nga ma-preserve….more than its (religious heirloom) beauty, but of the importance ani sa simbahan,” he added.

Earlier, Palma quoted the Code of Canon Law no. 1284 that states that all administrators, referring to the parish priests, are bound to exercise vigilance so that the goods entrusted to their care are in a way not lost or suffer damage.

He said what happened to Boljoon church and its panels should serve as a lesson for all priests.

“It’s also a reminder to our present parish priests to really be extra careful…, labi na karon. Nalipay ko nga ang mga tawo, they really appreciate the religious and cultural treasures nato sa simbahan,” Palma said.

The archbishop said that there is a process when removing sacred items inside the church. If something needs to be taken out, it has to be returned to where it belongs with a proper ceremony for it.

If these items, he said, are illegally removed, it is considered a sacrilege.

He said that religious heirlooms and artifacts should be treated with reverence and not as mere artworks for exhibition in museums, much less for private appreciation by the collectors who purchased them.

“If unlawfully taken, sacrilege…dakong sala…. Pero mapasaylo kon mangayo’g pasaylo labi na karong panahon sa kwaresma,” said Fr. Brian Brigoli, director of the archdiocese’s Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said in a separate interview.

He admitted that “many church assets and patrimonies had been unlawfully taken mostly in the 70s and 80s”.

“Atong gyud ning tan-awon. Realidad sa 70s, 80s, aduna gyuy mga cultural assets, patrimonies sa simbahan nga unlawfully taken,” he said.

In line with this, the Archdiocese of Cebu appeals to antique collectors, among others, to return to the church religious items they possess.

“Amo lang sang hangyo nga atong i-repatriate ang maong mga butang kay naa man gyud ni siyay mga context and meaning…. Sa amo nang gikaingon, these are not just objects of art form for people to behold publicly or privately, but these are integral part of the history, heritage and faith of the locality,” Brigoli appealed.

“Kung makit-an na ang provenance mas maayo gyud nga ibalik nato sa lawful owner…. Kon kini gikan sa Archdiocese of Cebu o sa parokya, mas maayong mabalik sa atoa…. Ug naa say daghan nga mga items nga gikan sa Archdiocese of Bohol, mas maayo pud nga mabalik ngadto,” he added.

He said that a church item is not just ordinary an work of art that need to be put on exhibit.

“It has its own place, purpose, context and its meaning will only be truly understood and appreciated if it is on its right place,” Brigoli said. — Rowena Capistrano/RHM (FREEMAN)

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