The Archdiocese of Los Angeles overseen by Archbishop José Gómez is allowing its conference center right next to Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral to be used for a Filipino native spirituality workshop that one critic says will expose Catholics to the demons of paganism.
The February 24 “Filipino Well Being Training Summit” will feature such events as an “Arawaw Indigenous Cultural Opening Ceremony,” a “Traditional Healing Arts of the Philippines” workshop, and an introduction to “Babaylan-Inspired principles of Self-Care.”
A “babaylan,” according to the event’s publicity material, is a “healer, ritualist, folk-therapist, [and] intermediary with the spirit world.”
But a Catholic writer and evangelist familiar with indigenous Filipino customs has said that the event has “pagan” influences and is spiritually dangerous.
“Exposing Catholics to pagan influenced events and workshops is of great concern to me,” Rexcristano Delson told LifeSiteNews.
Delson, a second-generation Catholic whose grandfather was an indigenous Igorot manbunong (pagan priest/shaman), reviewed the information publicizing the “Filipino Well Being Training Summit” and found an “eerie resemblance” to the pagan spirituality his family ultimately rejected when they became Catholic.
The publicity reads that the Arawaw ceremony is “one of the indigenous ways that our ancestors have participated in for millennia before colonial rule, and which also is in line with the process of dispelling malevolent spirits while inviting our ancestral spirits to commune and celebrate in the festivities.”
Delson told LifeSiteNews that these practices are an attempt to “manipulate” supernatural forces.
Delson pointed out that participants who do not understand the language of the “chant” that will be offered may be unconsciously participating in the invocation or worship of pagan gods. He said this happened to him when he took part in what he thought was a harmless ceremony offered for Catholics by a shaman from another Filipino tribe.
“I once observed a mumbaki (spiritual shaman) from another tribe chant/pray during what I thought was a harmless ceremony because he knew those of us participating were Catholic,” he said. “It wasn’t until later that he told me he summoned pagan deities and spirits along with our ancestors. There is nothing wrong with praying for our ancestors, but we should never summon spirits and deities. Again, each time we do, we open doors to the diabolic.”
The activities of most concern to Delson are described in the event’s webpage as follows:
- Indigenous Cultural Opening Ceremony: Virgil Mayor Apostol: The purpose of the Araraw ceremony is to open up the event by dispelling negativity in the environment, while ushering in goodness. It is one of the indigenous ways that our ancestors have participated in for millennia before colonial rule, and which also is in line with the process of dispelling malevolent spirits while inviting our ancestral spirits to commune and celebrate in the festivities. The process involves the chant, burning of anglem or incense, and providing a food offering.
- Traditional Healing Arts of the Philippines – Virgil Mayor Apostol – The purpose of this workshop is to provide a background of the cultural, societal, and psychological foundation of the people of the Philippines and diaspora, thus providing an insight into the belief system and approach to health and well being. There still exists a strong indigenous basis to how Filipinos think and act, layered with almost 400 years of colonization that has embedded foreign ideas and practices. The presentation will be followed by interactive mind-body exercises and simple Abion/Hilot techniques.
- Babaylan-Inspired principles of Self-Care – Elenita Strobel – This workshop will introduce indigenous elements and practices that we can integrate in our daily practice. Babaylan is a Visayan term for healer, ritualist, folk-therapist, Intermediary with the spirit world. Indigenous communities have different names for this role, e.g., mombaki, catalonan, ma-aram, dawac. This healing tradition continues to be practiced today both in the homeland and in the diaspora.
There will also be a workshop by a “Pilipinx trans woman” about “Homophobia, Transphobia, and Queerphobia within the Pilipinx Community.”
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels did not answer LifeSiteNews’ two requests for comment. However, the name of the L.A. Archdiocese’s mother church was removed from the event’s Facebook page after the request for comment was made. The address is now described as “Centre at Cathedral Plaza.”
Full story at LifeSiteNews.