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As he officiated Mass during the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9, Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle highlighted his hopes and concerns regarding violence and attacks on the family.
“There are many reports about killing. Life is sacred… it should be respected,” said Tagle in Filipino in his homily before hundreds of thousands of devotees at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
According to him, it is important in these modern times to show value for life amid numerous incidents of killings, shootouts, and death.
“Also, the money that can be used to feed the people and build houses and schools are being spent to kill.”
The Manila archbishop then called on the Filipino devotees to witness the hope of the Gospel in their daily lives as the Church observes the Year of Faith.
“Real devotees of the Black Nazarene can be determined through the deepness of [their] faith,” he said.
“The real devotees will fight falsities which destroy not only the people and community, but the son of God. That should not happen!” he added.
Right after the cardinal’s homily, several devotees jostled each other to get on or near the carriage bearing the 406-year old image of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ enshrined behind the altar.
This forced the security personnel, including members of the police and the “mamamasans” (those who tend to the image), to take their positions earlier than expected.
Tagle tried but failed to appease the rushing crowd as they still marched towards the grandstand despite his call to let the Mass finish first.
Quiapo Church rector Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio and Caritas Manila executive director Fr. Anton Pascual, subsequently, faced the crowd, which eventually calmed down as the Mass continued.
But officials of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene immediately shrugged off the incident, saying the crowd remained under control.
Ignacio added that the organizers were well-prepared with the security details as shown by the presence of security marshals in the immediate perimeter of the grandstand.
The priest said one has to understand that devotees have different ways of expressing their devotion to the Black Nazarene image.
Among them, he noted, were simple praying, kissing the image, serving the church, and attending the Mass during the January 9 Feast Day.
He said the “more quiet” faithful can be found in the Quiapo Church, where hourly Masses were held on the same day.
Many devotees believe that the image, which was sculpted in Mexico and said to have darkened in a fire, is miraculous so they strive to kiss or wipe their handkerchiefs and towels on the image.
As to the crowd estimate, the priest said the police would be the more competent authority but believes that it could be more than the 8 million last year, including those who joined the procession and attending Masses in the church. (RL/CBCPNews)