Jerome Secillano

Manila, Philippines – There’s frenzy over President Duterte’s remark encouraging people to build chapels in their houses instead of going to churches. I don’t understand why we are taking this guy seriously. It’s obvious that he delights in creating controversy to deviate people’s attention from his government’s inefficiency.

Also, the Catholic Church does not force people to give, donate or make “love offerings” when they go to church. It doesn’t even force them to attend church’s services but merely ENCOURAGES them. He has mistaken the Catholic Church for some pseudo-churches that obligate their followers to shell out money to support their leaders.

The Church is a house of prayer, it is a place for worship. Remember that there are places proper to man’s activities. If government officials can do their meetings, conventions, conferences and even consultations in expensive hotels or restaurants, why can’t people pray in the church which is the proper place for worship?

When people pray in the church, we do not oblige them to pay for electric consumption and its maintenance. When government officials conduct their meetings in high-end hotels, people’s money are being spent. When the collection box is passed around in masses, there are even those who would pretend to be so consumed in prayer not totally minding the box that’s being passed. So, who now obliges people “to pay”?

The church houses the Eucharist, Christ in the form of host (bread) which is reserved in the tabernacle. It cannot be placed in houses as the danger for its desecration is highly to occur. Canon 935 of the Code of Canon Law says, “No one is permitted to keep the Eucharist on one’s person or to carry it around unless pastoral necessity urges it and the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are observed.”

I’m not sure if the President’s urgings can be considered “pastoral necessity” (well, maybe for his followers), but his ignorance of Church’s workings tells us Catholics that we should neither believe this guy nor even take him seriously.

Fr. Jerome Secillano

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