Blessed Sacrament stolen from NegOr heritage church

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DUMAGUETE CITY – The Blessed Sacrament at the Adoration Chapel of the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish Church in Bacong, Negros Oriental was stolen by unidentified thieves on Friday.

The people in Bacong are asked to do penitential acts for the reparation of sins committed against God for the desecration and sacrilegious act in the stealing of the Sacred Host.

The Blessed Sacrament, a consecrated host, for Catholic faithful is a sacred object that refers to the body and blood of Christ offered during the Eucharistic celebration.

Msgr. Julius Perpetuo S. Heruela, parish priest of Bacong, on Friday said they believe the Blessed Sacrament was stolen between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The caretaker of the Adoration Chapel, Rodriga Solibio, told reporters that she was at the convent kitchen preparing some food and upon return to the chapel, discovered that the Consecrated Host was missing.

Heruela said he believes superstitious practices or beliefs by some people could be the reason behind the theft.

One superstitious practice is to feed the Blessed Sacrament to fighting cocks, he said.

Except for having a caretaker, there are no other security measures at the chapel.

There are no security guards or closed-circuit television cameras, although the Blessed Sacrament is taken out every night from the chapel for safekeeping.

Host desecration is one of the gravest sins in the Roman Catholic church and if the person who stole it is a member, he or she is automatically excommunicated from the religion, said Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes in a phone interview.

“For us Catholics, that is one of the really grave sins that can be committed against the Sacred Host because we believe in the real presence (of Christ), and whoever carried that out, if he is a Catholic, that carries an ‘excommunication latae sententiae’,” Cortes said.

Because of the seriousness of the matter, the bishop asked Heruela that the parish be asked to make some form of penance for the reparation of the grievous sin.

Heruela announced that a 24-hour prayer vigil is ongoing until Saturday morning where a penitential procession will follow.

He, however, did not suspend any masses at the Bacong Church because of the upcoming Feast of the Epiphany on Sunday but announced that if the Sacred Host is not returned, there will be continuing acts of atonement and prayers for reparation in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Cortes said in solidarity with the people of Bacong, he and some priests at the bishop’s residence will say a mass in private for this particular intention.

The prelate hopes that a police investigation will explain the motive behind the crime.

He also expressed concern the Blessed Sacrament might be used for other reasons, such as what he describes as “Satanic activities, that they can make use of it for sacrilegious purposes.”

Heruela is also appealing to the lay faithful for prayers, fasting, and even the offering of masses for this act of desecration.

He also appealed for the return of the Blessed Sacrament, “the most precious gift that we have in Bacong which is priceless” and told the one who took it, “we are praying for you that your sins will be forgiven and you will return to God”. -PNA

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