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Philippine bishops fear imitation of Christ's crucifixion

While bishops in the Philippines are encouraging Catholics to go to the cinema to see Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" movie, some are worried about renewed enthusiasm for the custom of Filipinos re-enacting the death of Christ by crucifying themselves on Good Friday.

The bishops are not supporting the tradition. Ecumenical News International reports that one man is crucifying himself for the 17th time. Carpenter and sign artist Ruben Enaje each year expresses gratitude for "God's boundless mercy" in allowing him to survive a fall from a three-storey building 18 years ago by crucifying himself.

Meanwhile the wide publicity and controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film have brought a spike of new interest in the Shroud of Turin, which many believe was Jesus' burial cloth.

John P. and Rebecca S. Jackson, who run the Turin Shroud Centre of Colorado in Colorado Springs, and Barrie Schwortz, who runs the interactive Web site, reported a significant increase in calls or visits since the movie came out.

Renewed interest in the Shroud also coincides with an assertion by Swedish textile expert Dr Mechthild Flury-Lemberg that stitching on the shroud could have been created only during the lifetime of Jesus or just previous, excluding the possibility of a later forgery.

A Filipino villager's passion: Crucifixion every Good Friday (Ecumenical News International 6/4/04)
Shroud of Turin experts say Gibson film sparks new interest in cloth (Catholic News Service 5/4/04)
New finding of stitching on shroud joins other evidence indicating it is authentic (Spirit Daily)

Relics Linked to the Crucifixion on Display in U.S. (Zenit 5/4/04)

7 Apr 2004