Devotees must prioritize safety in Traslacion, says CBCP official

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Devotees should always prioritize their safety, given the nature of the crowd attending the Feast of the Black Nazarene, said Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Executive Secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano.

"Sana nga, hindi maging unruly, sana maging safe, tapos hindi naman sana nae-endanger yung buhay ng mga tao," Secillano said in an interview with The Source.

[Translation: I hope the devotees do not become unruly, they stay safe, and they do not endanger their lives.]

In the 2016 procession, the Philippine Red Cross reported two deaths and treated over 1,500 individuals for various injuries.

In this year's procession, as of 3 p.m. today, Red Cross volunteers have attended to over 1,000 individuals.

Secillano said touching the actual image of the Black Nazarene to show devotion is unnecessary — and it could be dangerous, even life-threatening.

"We don't want to see people dying just because of the expression of their faith...nakahawak ka nga, namatay ka naman," Secillano said.

[Translation: You might have touched the image, but then you could die.]

However, the devotees' unwavering personal faith convictions still make them prioritize devotion over their safety.

"Yung statue, sabi nila nakakatulong yan sa buhay nila — miraculous — yun ang pananaw nila eh, and these are personal experiences," he said.

[Translation: They say the statue is miraculous and helps them in their lives, that's their perspective based on personal experiences.]

 

Secillano said devotees could identify with the Black Nazarene's image — especially because it is know for its resiliency — having survived different disasters, including several fires and earthquakes.

He said most of the devotees participate in the Traslacion barefoot to reflect the struggles and humility of Jesus Christ.

"There's an element of purification process...tayo bilang makasalanan, minsan gusto natin naman magdaan sa sakripisyo...Ang ilan diyan ay hindi naman sasabihin para makatanggap sila ng biyaya. Sa kanila, 'para mapatawad man lang ako sa mga kasalanan ko.'" he said.

[Translation: There's an element of purification process…as sinners, sometimes we want to offer sacrifice. Some of them are not expecting blessings. For them, they just want to be forgiven for their sins.]

While Secillano acknowledged that these are the devotees' personal experiences, it is unnecessary to undertake such risky measures in the Feast of the Black Nazarene to be forgiven.

"If you want to be forgiven, you don't have to go as far as doing that. To be forgiven, you undergo the sacrament of reconciliation," he said.