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Don’t use violence or spill blood but share life say Philippine bishops

MANILA (UCAN): “Today, many follow the ‘kings’ who use violence, arms and intimidation, but are without any understanding and oneness with the weak,” Luis Cardinal Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, said during Passion Sunday celebrations to start Holy Week in the Philippines.
In his homily during an early-morning Mass for the blessing of the palms, the cardinal poured scorn on leaders who are “full of cockiness and devoid of humility.”
Without naming names, the cardinal urged leaders to emulate Jesus Christ’s example of humility in leadership.
“Our king does not rely on violence, in arms, in swords, in bullets or guns. Our king trusts in God alone,” the cardinal said.
He emphasized that true authority comes from the “serene dignity and silence of a person who trusts in God and who is in full solidarity with sinful humanity.”
Cardinal Tagle urged Catholics to take advantage of Holy Week to get to know Jesus more deeply. “Let us focus on Jesus. Let us look and listen to him to get to know him again,” he said.
In his own Holy Week message, Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, called on Filipinos to help the oppressed.
“Let us remember to always help and uplift the downtrodden because it is only through charitable actions that we can make God’s presence visible among us,” he said.
He called for unity in order to “build a truly equitable and inclusive nation where everyone can enjoy a decent and comfortable life.”
The president said Christ’s resurrection should also be a reminder for Filipinos that the country “deserves salvation from social ills” such as drugs, criminality and corruption.
Human rights groups, however, pointed out that Duterte’s war against drugs has resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, a critic of the president’s anti-narcotics campaign, said Holy Week should not only be about religious traditions and pious practices.
“(Holy Week) is about what Christ has done for humanity,” he said, adding that the week is “holy because of love.”
The archbishop said, “Love alone can make us holy,” and that love is demonstrated by visiting the sick aside from traditional church visits.
The traditional Visita Iglesia —church visit—starts after Maundy Thursday rituals. People visit at least seven churches, supposedly to meditate on the Way of the Cross.
Good Friday is usually observed with the Way of the Cross, along with the recitation and reflection on the Seven Last Words, usually by eloquent speakers, including politicians and actors.
A passion play called the Senakulo (the Cenacle) is staged in many towns in the afternoon, followed by a procession of devotees and flagellants who sometimes have themselves nailed on crosses.
“Instead of spilling your blood on the streets, why not walk into a Red Cross office and donate blood? Choose to share life. Share your blood,” Archbishhop Villegas urged.
“Do we need to walk barefoot till our soles get blisters as a form of penance for our sins?” he asked.
“Why don’t you buy a pair of slippers and give it to a child who goes to school dragging his torn footwear?” the archbishop added.
Holy Week has become an opportunity for Filipino families to take a break from work and school.
Thousands of city residents usually troop to the provinces for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

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