MANILA, Philippines -- Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has disapproved of the "excessive" devotion shown by thousands of Catholics who virtually mobbed the Black Nazarene icon during its annual procession and in the process, hurt each other.
Rosales said the real devotion to the Black Nazarene called for leading a life of simplicity and selflessness.
At least two people died and about 400 were injured last Saturday in which as many as four million people were estimated by police to have participated in the five-kilometer procession from the Luneta to Quiapo Church in Manila.
Barefoot devotees, mostly male, jostled each other to get on or near the carriage bearing the centuries-old image of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ on one knee bearing a cross on its shoulder.
Believers say the image which was sculpted in Mexico and said to have darkened in a fire, is miraculous. They strived to kiss or wipe their handkerchiefs and towels on the image.
?Some of what we saw was an excessive expression of faith. There are many impurities that need cleansing,? said Rosales on Saturday night after the 15-hour procession.
He said having so many people get hurt was also contrary to the purpose of celebrating the holiness of the feast day and practicing true devotion.
Earlier, during the morning Mass at the Quirino Grandstand before the start of the procession, Rosales told the faithful that being a devotee of the Black Nazarene meant one should live with simplicity, humility and charity.
?That is the real devotion,? he said.
Rosales said that devotees should learn that the image of the Black Nazarene was a symbol of sacrifice and repentance.
?Another way of showing excess of faith is when you do it only for yourself, which should not be,? he said.
?We still have a long way to go and there are many things to purify even in religious matters, because there are excesses,? he said.