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What’s a Pagan Workshop Doing in a Catholic Conference Center?

Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral and Conference Center

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is being criticized after news broke that the conference center affiliated with Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral is being used for a Filipino native spirituality workshop that one critic says will expose Catholics to the demonic.

LifeSiteNews is reporting on the controversy involving a February 24 Filipino Well Being Training Summit, led by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, which will feature ethnic events such as an “Arawaw Indigenous Cultural Opening Ceremony and an introduction to “Babaylan-Inspired principles of Self-Care.”

Rexcristano Delson, a Catholic writer and evangelist who is familiar with Filipino customs said the event has “pagan” influences and is spiritually dangerous.

For example, a “babaylan,” according to the event’s publicity material, is a “healer, ritualist, folk-therapist, [and] intermediary with the spirit world.”

The seemingly innocent Araraw ceremony is described as a way of “dispelling malevolent spirits while inviting our ancestral spirits to commune and celebrate in the festivities."

Delson, a second-generation Catholic whose grandfather was an indigenous Igorot manbunong (pagan priest/shaman), reviewed the event information and says it bears an “eerie resemblance” to the spirituality his family rejected when they became Catholic.

Delson told LifeSite that these practices are an attempt to “manipulate” supernatural forces.

“The act of dispelling and inviting spirits is something non-Christian and some Christian Igorots continue to do today because they believe spirits can be manipulated by man to work in our favor by appeasing them through rituals and offerings,” he said.

Even though some of these spirits are perceived as malevolent or benevolent but, “it is important to understand that all these spirits are demons,” Delson explained.

Delson also 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 – which is precisely what happened to him.

“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 told LifeSite. “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.”

Another concern he has is that Filipino tribal ceremonies are never written down so it’s impossible to tell in advance exactly what will happen at the cathedral’s center.

The workshop will also feature a Trauma-informed Dance/Yoga workshop as well as a workshop on Homophobia, Transphobia and Queerphobia within the Pilipinx Community.

Last summer, the diocese came under fire for permitting an event featuring Planned Parenthood speakers to book the center. They responded by saying they weren't aware of the booking and quickly cancelled the event.

Thus far, LifeSite’s request for comment from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels has gone unanswered; however, the name of the cathedral was removed from the event’s Facebook page shortly after this request was made. It now lists the location only as “Centre at Cathedral Plaza.”

Catholics are being asked to respectfully communicate their concerns to the Archdiocese:

His Eminence, José Horacio Gómez Archdiocese of Los Angeles 3424 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241 phone: (213) 637-7000 email: info@la-archdiocese.org

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