Sacraments should be free of charge – Palma
Archbishop Jose Palma called on all priests of the Archdiocese of Cebu to make the sacraments of the Catholic Church such as baptism and marriage free of charge.
Addressing over 300 priests during the Chrism Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday, the 65-year-old prelate said the clergy needs to truly respond to the call to become a “church of the poor.”
“We need to go out of ourselves, leave our comfort zones, and reach out to those in the peripheries. Sometimes we think we have little to give. But the spiritual gifts we have are many,” he told the congregation.
Palma said doing away with fees in carrying out the sacraments, particularly baptism and matrimony, is the best way to celebrate the Year of the Poor in the Philippines.
He also encouraged parishes to hold first communion for street children—a program introduced last year by Fr. Carmelo Diola of the Dilaab Foundation Inc., and feeding programs like the Kusina ni Santa Marta of Msgr. Achilles Dakay.
“There has to be an end of this so-called culture of indifference. I must say that indifference to others is a crime and the only Christian way is to get involved,” Palma said.
He instructed Msgr. Daniel Sanico and Msgr. Rey Penagunda—the two vicar generals of the Archdiocese of Cebu—to submit a report in August this year on how priests responded to his call to make the sacraments available for free.
“I want a record, not because we want to show off, but because I want all of us, priests, to do what we ought to do,” the archbishop said.
Palma said he wants priests to be “creative” in finding ways to help the poor in their parishes and areas.
“Mass weddings and baptisms have been done in several occasions. I hope parishes will come up with programs to make the sacraments available without people thinking about fees,” he said.
The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are baptism, confirmation, confession, Holy Eucharist, matrimony, holy orders (priesthood), and anointing of the sick.
Yesterday morning, the priests attended a recollection at the San Pedro Calungsod Chapel at the South Road Properties in Cebu City.
At 2 p.m, Palma led the Chrism Mass at the cathedral.
Cebu clergy renewed their priestly vows to shun worldly pleasures, to be faithful to God and His Church, and to carry out the sacraments.
Present during the celebration were Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, bishops Antonio Rañola, Emilio Bataclan, and Ireneo Amantillo.
Palma said priests should feel privileged to have been chosen by God to continue His work on earth.
“Thanks be to God. If not because of His grace, we priests may already have left this vocation. But God is faithful through the years. He is full of mercy and compassion,” he said.
Palma apologized for the many times they fell short of what priests are expected to do.
“We (priests) are weak and fragile human beings. In many occasions, we failed our own ideals, yet even in our misery and sinfulness, God has chosen us,” he said.
The Cebu Archdiocese has 387 diocesan priests, 340 religious priests, and 1,308 religious sisters.
They administer to 3.8 million Catholics in Cebu—the cradle of Christianity in the Far East.
During the Mass, Palma blessed the oil that will be used by priests in administering the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and holy orders.
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