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Bantayan Parish Museum: Fighting centuries-old ‘fake news’

Tourists visit the Bantayan Parish Museum where the famous Papal Indult issued in 1824 that granted Bantayan Island the privilege to eat meat even during Holy Week is currently on display.  | 📷 : via Morexette Marie Erram #CDNDigital

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Bantayan Parish Museum in Bantayan town, Cebu not only houses relics and artifacts of significant religious value.

It also aims to debunk centuries-old “fake news” involving how the locality observes the Holy Week.

One of the museum’s highlights is the Papal Indult, a historic document that apparently granted locals in Bantayan exemption from abstaining from meat between 1824 to 1843.

For parishioners, this item served as the strongest evidence in striking down myths that they can eat pork during Lent, particularly on Good Friday, and that they celebrate Holy Week as a “fiesta”.

Kenneth Roger Molinar, curator, and chairperson of worship at the Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol said the museum was opened not only to showcase their rich culture and history but also to educate both guests and residents about the truth behind Bantayan’s Holy Week traditions, including the myth that they can eat pork meat during Lent.

“The Papal indult has long since expired, meaning locals and tourists visiting Bantayan during Holy Week, we encourage them to still observe fasting, penance, and abstaining from meat,” said Molinar.

The History

It is believed that Pope Leo XII granted Bantayan Island, which relies on fishing as their means of livelihood, the exemption on abstaining meat as their diet primarily consisted of seafood such as fish.

An indult is defined as “a license granted by the Pope authorizing an act that the common law of the Roman Catholic Church does not sanction.”

Pope Leo XII reportedly issued the declaration in 1824 to Bantayan through the late parish priest, Doroteo Andrada del Rosario III. It was supposed to last up to 10 years only but the church decided to extend it until 1853.

Since locals have become used to the exemption of abstaining from meat for a long time, some may have simply forgotten or opted to carry on with it.

Eventually, it was passed down to future generations, and up to the present day, a lot of individuals still don’t know that the indult has long since expired.

“The Bantayanons may have become attached to the practice,” Molinar said.

However, according to Molinar, new findings from experts, including an updated translation of the indult, suggested that the declaration may have been intended for one person only.

“This copy that we have is only a third-class certificate. This means there was a first-class certificate given directly from Vatican,” he pointed out.

Citing the translation experts have provided to church officials of the Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol, Molinar explained that the Vatican may have granted the indult exclusively for Padre Doroteo Andrada del Rosario III.

Museum officials considered the possibility that the then leadership of the Roman Catholic Church may have provided del Rosario the privilege to eat meat during Good Friday due to the support he extended to the Holy Crusade.

“My theory is that… maybe Doroteo may have told someone that he got the indult or dispensation and then someone wanted to also have it, so it got replicated,” Molinar added.

Nevertheless, the curator said they decided to put the indult on display at the Bantayan Parish Museum so everyone, especially members of the younger generation, will know the real score.

“When you really come here in Bantayan, and experience in Bantayan, you can really see that people (during Holy Week) are in solemnity. It’s a solemn event,” Molinar said. /rcg


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TAGS: Bantayan, Cebu‬, Good Friday, Holy Week, museum
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