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Bishops condemn Easter whippings, crucifixions

Biships say some flagellation and crucifixions are merely carried out for financial reasons.

Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines have criticised the traditional Easter rituals of people publicly whipping themselves or having themselves crucified.

"Flagellation is a form of penance done even centuries ago. But to do this out of context is wrong. It should not be done as an act of superstition," Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, the bishops' spokesman, said in a statement.

Bishop Rolando Tirona, chairman of a church office on the laity and the family, went further, charging that some flagellation and crucifixions were merely carried out for financial reasons.

"These are expressions of superstitious beliefs and are usually done out of the need for money and for tourism purposes which is totally wrong," the Manila Bulletin newspaper quoted Bishop Tirona as saying.

Some Filipinos mark Good Friday by whipping their backs into a bloody mess in public while others even have themselves crucified in imitation of Christ in spectacles which attract thousands of tourists each year.

Traditionally such acts of penitence are done in the hope that God will grant requests like the healing of a loved one. But many critics say that the practices have become commercialised in order to attract tourists.

About 75 million Filipinos, out of a national population of 93 million, are Catholics, a legacy of the country's Spanish colonial past.


this was a traditional Catholic practice when i lived in the Philippines as a child in the Fifties, though i'm not sure that the bishops ever condoned the practice.  Americans were generally critical of it, at least the protestants were, but they were critical of Catholics in general.  it's very foreign to our culture, very different.  all too often Americans abroad are overly critical of how other people live, anyway.

as a kid, i was always impressed by people having enough faith to do these things, though i wasn't allowed to go see them.  the long processions in which people walked barefoot for miles impressed me, too.  although those who are crucified are not left on their crosses long enough to die, and they have a block of wood on the cross to keep their feet on, it has to be very painful to have nails driven in to your hands and feet, not to mention having your arms stretched out for a lone time.  i don't think that most people would do it just for money.