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Clergy asks cemeteries to be strict vs. fake priests

The Philippine Catholic clergy has asked the security of all cemeteries to require identification from those claiming to be priests before they are allowed to say prayers for the dead.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez recently spoke over the radio, saying he initially gave instructions to the La Loma Catholic Cemetery and other cemeteries covered by his diocese to ask for IDs from the priests.

Iniguez, chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said, “we have to put a stop to the sinister plans of those who are pretending to be priests who want to bless the gravesite of a dead person and ask for payment from the unsuspecting relatives.

“We should stop these fake priests at the gate of the cemetery. We are prohibiting fake priests in all the cemeteries under the Diocese of Caloocan,” he said.

Radio Veritas president Fr. Anton Pascual said it is easy to separate the legitimate priests from the bogus ones.

A real priest carries a celebret ID that bears the priest’s name, the date of his ordination, the signature of his bishop and the diocese where he belongs. It would also indicate that the priest is in good standing. The celebret card is difficult to duplicate, Pascual said.

Apart from showing the celebret ID, Pascual pointed out that a real priest does not bless the tomb in a cemetery since the coffin has been blessed before the person is buried. A priest can only bless a tomb if there is a request coming from the family and friends of the deceased.