Local October 6, 2011 | 11:37 am

“Drunken binges” splits Catholic Church on Patron Saint fests

Santo Domingo.- The unchecked drunkenness and occasional lewd behavior by revelers in the traditionally popular Patron Saint celebrations have split Dominican Republic’s Catholic Church, and affects the relations between the City councils and the business sector that benefits from those often lucrative festivities held in every town in the country.

On Wednesday Barahona diocese bishop Rafael Leonidas Felipe Núñez announced the repeal of the Church’s support for such celebration in that southwestern city, affirming that as a Catholic he cannot agree with the “drunken binges” he affirms have been occurring in the celebrations on the Malecon (seaside avenue). "We understand that the festivals honor the virgin Our Lady of the Rosary, Patron of Barahona, are religious activities which promote culture, but not drunken binges."

He said the churches have never supported the celebrations with beer, rum and other things that don’t help the economic activities or the social life of the towns.

But another bishop disagrees with his colleague on the celebrations that last from one week to 10 days, noting that the church must do its part, but allow the people to carry out the tradition “as they see fit.”

Higuey archdiocese bishop Nicanor Peña affirms that while the church cannot condone drunkenness and debauchery, “the people must be allowed to celebrate the tradition as they see fit.”

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