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Archbishop compares fixed donations to foul price tag

DAGUPAN CITY (Agencies) : Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a recent pastoral letter, has reiterated his position against the arancel or the fixed donations for sacraments and sacramentals. He believes the panana-
bangan
(stewardship) is a better way to let the faithful show their support for the Church.

“The Church will not get poorer with pananabangan. The Church will become more credible, more prophetic and more Christ like with pananabangan.” Archbishop Villegas said in the pastoral letter, “The arancel system is both a painful scourge on the long suffering people and a shameful stain in the vestments of the Church’s ministers. The arancel imprints an invisible and foul price tag on our priestly stole. It has been tolerated but in the beginning it was not so.” 

The archbishop moreover laments how the practice of having fixed rates for the sacraments and sacramentals “smacks of bad taste and intellectual dishonesty” on the part of the Church, stressing that blessings and sacraments must not appear as religious services rendered in exchange for fees.

“Giving to the Church must become a regular habit with or without the sacraments. It is certainly true that the sacraments and blessings of the Church are not a reward for a virtue nor a prize for being good. In the same way, the blessings and sacraments of the Church must not appear as religious services rendered in exchange for fees. It is the duty of the priest to offer them. It is the duty of every child of the Church to sustain their Mother diligently and generously,” he explained.

The archbishop stressed that pananabangan is not about money, and it is the perennial issue about finances that becomes the test if stewardship has indeed been taken to heart, reminding the Lingayen-Dagupan faithful that a clear sign of this spirit is their fidelity to the abolition of the arancel.

He also said that it is the policy in his archdiocese that the parish offices should not require parishioners to make fixed donations for Church services, as indicated in the computerised parish accounting system.

“The so-called ‘fixed donations’ violate the spirit with which we slowly abolished the arancel system of Church sustenance,” the archbishop said, adding that it is dishonest to say that the Church have no fixed rates for the sacraments and Church services on one hand and yet insinuate softly later a certain amount to be offered.

While he admits the old system of Church sustenance can make some Church people feel secure, Villegas points out this is “the security of Egypt not the hope of the Promised Land.”

“The arancel can give us better security but that that is the security of slaves not of freemen. I know a few of us grumble and complain secretly wishing to return to the familiar and secure instead of the adventure of a new Church. Complainers end up defeated. When we allow our fears to guide our actions we lose our vision and get imprisoned by our griping,” he said. 

 

The pastoral letter, which was also posted in  Facebook account of the archbishop on April 29, draw favourable comments from the faithful. One said it is like a breath of fresh air, while another said pananabangan may prevent some priests from living in luxury.