‘Sacraments cannot be equated with money,’ Zambo archbishop says at Chrism Mass

March 29, 2024 - 1:36 PM
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Archbishop Julius Tonel of Zamboanga presides over the Chrism Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Zamboanga City on March 26, 2024. (Archdiocese of Zamboanga)

The sacraments belong to God and must not have a price tag attached to them, a Catholic archbishop said.

Archbishop Julius Tonel of Zamboanga said that the sacraments are ‘grace from God’ and, therefore, must be provided “free of charge”.

“It is not your grace, it is His grace. The grace of God cannot be equated with money,” Tonel said.

“There is no fee to the grace of God, especially to the poor, the suffering, and the sick,” he said.

The archbishop celebrated the Chrism Mass with his clergy at the Zamboanga Cathedral on Tuesday and addressed his homily to them.

He warned the priests against falling to what Pope Francis called the “temptation of surrogates” or “substituting our being anointed with Christ with something else”.

An example he gave is when priests “substitute the sacrament with money”.

“This is very dangerous,” Tonel said. “That’s why we can be factors of so many of our faithful moving away from the Church,” he stressed.

In light of these developments, the archbishop challenged the faithful to help take care of their parishes.

“How do you give thanks to the Lord if not to support your church, your parish, your priests? We don’t have to demand from you,” he added.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has established guidelines for the gradual removal of the “arancel,” which refers to the system of charging fixed rates for sacraments.

In 2021, the CBCP also established the Episcopal Office on Stewardship to assist dioceses in implementing the abolition of the arancel system.”

During the Mass, Tonel blessed the oils used at baptisms, confirmations, to anoint the sick and for ordinations.

The archdiocese’s clergy also renewed their priestly promises before the archbishop.