Toque de ánimas

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Belfry of the parish of Baclayón five months before the devastating 2013 Bohol earthquake

Todos los santos is now upon us. This reminds us of that small commotion amongst Filipino churchly circles that recently erupted concerning bells, after the CBCP “[appealed] for the pealing of church bells at 8:00 pm during the same [forty-day] period in remembrance of the souls of those killed” [1]. This national appeal was preceded by appeals at the diocesan level outside Metro Manila [2], and followed by diocesan instructions on what day to begin the observance, what time to ring the bells, and how long the pealing should be [3].

The critique to this appeal mainly questioned the motivations behind it. Observers noted that by singling out “those killed in the government’s campaign against drugs” [4], even though including in the appositive “all victims of violence and the war in Marawi” [5], as beneficiaries of the exercise, the CBCP politicised its revival of the ancient custom. Strengthening this observation is the fact that the revival was specified only for forty days. An optimist perhaps would say that the CBCP is laying out guidelines for a present issue. Extending it beyond the specified time remains at the hands of individual bishops and parish priests.

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