CBCP creates new office to help abolish 'arancel' system

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has established the Episcopal Office on Stewardship to help dioceses in abolishing the "arancel" system.

The CBCP defines arancel as a system that charges the faithful for church services, such as baptism, confirmation, weddings and Masses.

Outgoing Episcopal Commission on the Laity chairperson Bishop Broderick Pabillo will lead the new office, according to the CBCP.

CBCP Spokesperson Fr. Jerome Secillano said the Catholic Church has been taking a long time to do away with the arancel system because other churches, especially small ones in far-flung areas, are dependent on the fees they get from the scheme for their daily operations.

"Marami ring binabayaran ang mga parokya tulad ng mga utilities, sinuswelduhan mo rin 'yung mga staff. Diyan din sa arancel kinukuha ‘yung panggastos mo para isulong ang mga programa ng parokya," Secillano told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend on Sunday.

[Translation: Small churches also have many expenses, like utilities and salaries of their staff. They also get from the arancel their funds to finance the church's programs.]

Secillano encouraged the faithful to voluntarily donate money, even if they will not avail of any service, to help small churches survive.

The Catholic Church reaffirmed its commitment last January to abolish the arancel system, saying it has become prejudicial against the poor.

Since April, the Archdiocese of Manila already abolished fixed rates for baptisms, confirmation, and the offering of Mass intentions in all the churches it encompasses.