Are the Christian Authorities Against the Crucifixion?
Crucifixtion and Crucified Christ have great significance in most of the churches, especially in the Catholic Church. But when some devotional practices mislead people the church authorities come forward to guide the people in the proper understanding. This avoids blind faith and observation of meaningless rituals.
- Are the Church authorities against Crucifixion?
- Devotional crucifixions in Philippines
- The church authorities insist spiritual aspect of devotions
Are the Church authorities against Crucifixion?
Recently, there have been propaganda videos, showing the actual crucifixion incidents taking place in the Philippines. There have been strong criticisms stating that this is not a “devotional practice” of a part of an orthodox Christianity but a barbaric and inhuman practice.
Crucifixion as a devotional practice
Crucifixion was an ancient punishment executed by the Romans and the Carthaginians in the early centuries. An accused criminal was sentenced to death by hanging on a cross. Later this practice was also used as a form of execution in Japan for criminals. It was under this practice that Jesus Christ was sentenced to be crucified when the Jews demanded Pontius Pilate to be sentenced to death.
When Constantine became the Roman Emperor, he abolished that practice. Veneration to crucifix began among the Christians. Crucifix became a symbol of the sufferings of Jesus for the redemption of the whole humanity.
Crucifixion was practiced as a practice of devotion. Even today, tableaux depicting the passion and crucifixion of Jesus is enacted in many places of the world. Since the dawn of the 19th century, actual crucifixion is practiced by a certain group of Catholic flagellants in New Mexico called Brothers of Light. They conduct every year the reenactments of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion during Holy Week. Some devoted Catholics still undergo this practice on Good Friday, as a kind of voluntary penance.
Devotional crucifixions in Philippines
In Philippines, this has become a regular practice on Good Friday. Some devotees drive nails through the palm of their hands and stand in a crucifies position for sometime. There are certain people who are crucified with nails every year during Passion Week celebrations. Thousands of tourist, including people from foreign countries gather every year to witness this traditional re-enactment practice. This year at least 20 people have already booked to be crucified or nailed to wooden crosses in the province of Pampanga on Good Friday.
Catholic Bishops of Philippines disapprove this practice
The Philippines government supports this practice of crucifixion devotion as a cultural part of worship. The health department has framed certain rules for safety against tetanus. But the Catholic Bishops of Philippines discourage this practice of “Crucifixion Devotion”. They say that such acts “are expressions of superstitious beliefs and are usually done out of the need for money and for tourism purposes, which is totally wrong”.
The church authorities insist spiritual aspect of devotions
Although the church authorities discourage this practice they do not condemn the real intention of penance. They recommend fasting and other methods of penance instead of this kind of devotion. They point out that this penitential devotion should not become a practice of business or tourism. They insist the faithful to focus at the spiritual aspect of their lives rather than on the external manifestations of their faith.