THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has again warned the faithful to be wary of people posing as priests and offering their services in exchange for money, as Filipinos begin flocking to cemeteries to pay respects to the dead.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP Committee on Public Affairs, on Sunday explained that a real priest does not peddle his services inside the cemetery and ask for money to bless the dead.
A priest will only go to the cemetery to offer Holy Mass in honor of all the dead, stressing that clergy do not have the obligation to go around the cemetery to bless graves.
“So if somebody who is dressed like a priest and acts like a priest offers to bless the grave of your departed ones and thereafter asks for a fee, magduda na kayo [you should be wary]. It is a clear sign that his intention is not to pray for the dead but to get your money,” Secillano told The Manila Times.
“It’s okay if somebody goes around blessing the graves provided that he does not ask for anything in return. If he asks for money, you should immediately doubt. It’s a red alert that he is a fake. Never give him money,” he added.
Secillano advised Catholics to coordinate with their parish priest or an authorized representative of the church that has jurisdiction over the cemetery.
He pointed out, however, that a priest or a lay minister may go to the cemetery to bless a particular grave on a personal request.
“We consider that. We pray and bless the grave but we don’t ask for a payment. We are not paid for that,” Secillano said.
Secillano also clarified that the celebration of “Undas” or All Souls’ Day falls on November 2 based on the Church’s liturgical calendar. But it has become a Filipino tradition to celebrate it instead on November 1, which is All Saints’ Day.
“November 1 is dedicated for prayers to ‘undeclared’ Saints or those who were not canonized and officially declared as such by the Vatican. Saints who were canonized have their individual feast days,” he said.
“So it’s really on November 2 when people should go to the cemetery to offer prayers and flowers to their loved ones,” he added.
The priest pointed out that the practice of commemorating the dead on November 1 has become hard to correct.