By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- Bishop Manolo A. De Los Santos of the Diocese of Virac ordered the suspension of all scheduled masses at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Virac, Catanduanes after the organizers of Mutya ng Virac 2018 were found to have used without permission the aisle of the sacred place of worship for catwalk video teaser.
The suspension of masses was effected immediately until an act of reparation was initiated by the people of the Diocese of Virac, Edna Bagadiong, provincial manager of Philippine Information Agency said.
“Since last Monday until yesterday there was no mass celebrated inside the Immaculate Conception Cathedral,” she said.
Masses previously scheduled at Virac Cathedral were celebrated instead in any barangay chapel, per instruction by the bishop.
The videographer of the Search for Mutya ng Virac 2018 used the cathedral interior for catwalk shooting to produce promotional materials featuring the candidates to be posted on social media for tourism promotional purposes.
Following the desecration of the holy place for public worship, Bishop Manolo Delos Santos suspended all scheduled masses in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral until an act of reparation is initiated to make up for the transgression.
Bishop De Los Santos asked the Catholic community here to conduct a dawn penitential procession on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 3:00 o’ clock in the morning, as a sacrifice and penitence for the blasphemous act and transgression by the beauty pageant organizers.
He said masses inside the cathedral will only be resumed after such act of reparation had been done.
“Tomorrow, Wednesday (Nove 28) at 3:00 a.m., a penitential procession will be done by the people as an act of reparation. The organizer of Mutya ng Virac 2010 should also conduct a public apology,” Ms. Bagadiong said.
The Mutya ng Virac committee members led by Frank Bonales, including Mayor Samuel Laynes of Virac town, extended apologies to the prelate for the unauthorized and scandalous use of the church premises.
Despite the apology, however, Bishop Delos Santos insisted on the penitential procession by the faithful which was conducted in the early morning of Wednesday as originally planned. An act of reparation is a gesture meant to repair broken relationships or damage done to someone.
The prelate also directed all parish churches across the island province of Catanduanes to participate in the act of reparation through a dawn procession around the capital town of Virac.
He reiterated that sacred places must be given due respect and be spared from blasphemy.
Bagadiong said that organizer Bonales had issued a public apology statement through the print and broadcast media in the island province.
The offending video which was started as early as last October had already been deleted upon the instruction following the public outcry, it was learned.
“As Catholics ourselves, we deeply regret this clear violation of the Cathedral and the outrage it has caused among the religious community and the clergy,” the statement said.
While we admit that we gave the creator of the video free rein to deliver on his artistic concepts as agreed upon, we were unaware that the interior of the Cathedral itself would be utilized, the statement continued.
“For this act of negligence and lack of oversight, we express our sincere remorse and humbly ask for your forgiveness,” the public apology statement concluded.