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Priests’ plea: Please, no firecrackers near churches

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If you can’t resist the urge to explode firecrackers to greet the New Year, stay away from churches. Otherwise, just stick to the old-fashioned way of banging pots and pans.

Some members of the Catholic Church on Sunday joined authorities in calling for safer means of merrymaking to usher in the New Year.

But for stubborn revelers, Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, the media director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had one request: “If you’re going to ignite firecrackers, please do it far from the church, especially when there is a Mass going on,” he said.

Firecrackers that go off near churches disturb churchgoers attending the New Year Mass, particularly those held at or an hour before midnight, according to Quitorio.

“The noise created by the firecrackers drown out what is being said in the Mass… people have a hard time listening to the readings,” he said.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said it was for this reason that Masses in his area in Tarlac were moved earlier.

“We are afraid for the security of the faithful, so our New Year Masses have been scheduled at 9 p.m. so that by 10:30 p.m. they can go home safely,” Castro told reporters.

While acknowledging that making noise to greet the New Year was part of the Filipino culture, the priest said there were other ways to create noise to usher in 2013 without losing a limb, such as blowing plastic horns (torotot) or banging pots and pans.

“In the olden days, we used to bang pots and pans because it was believed that you will have plenty of food to cook in the new year,” said Castro. It was worth giving the old practice a try for the New Year, he added.

Silence, solitude

Some members of the clergy suggested finding silence and solitude.

“Let us find time for silence and solitude. Be thankful for all the blessings in the past year and invite God to continually walk with us in our journey for the year to come,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles encouraged the faithful to visit the Blessed Sacrament to welcome the New Year.

“Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as the Three Kings adored the Child in the Holy Family so may today’s kings be wise to recognize, acknowledge and adore the true God-made-man,” said Arguelles.

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Tags: Catholic Church , Firecrackers , Msgr. Pedro Quitorio , new year revelry , New Year's Eve

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