Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña. (File photo)

MANILA — Over 40 couples participated in a mass wedding officiated by the Diocese of Iligan and the Prelature of Marawi in celebration of Valentine’s Day on Friday.

“We had 44 couples that participated in today’s Kasalan ng Bayan. This was our way of celebrating Valentine’s Day in our parish,” Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña said in a text message late Friday.

The mass wedding was held at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte.

The couples were civilly married prior to their Church wedding.

“We campaign for the validation of their marriage na tatanggap sila ng sakramento [ng kasal] (where they will receive the sacrament of marriage); we hope this is going to the usual feature of our Valentine celebration,” dela Peña said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas Saturday.

Dela Peña said they are looking to hold such an event every Valentine’s Day.

Dela Peña added that the occasion is also the start of the diocese’s endeavor to stop collecting arancel.

“It is an opening salvo to the abrogation of the arancel system of scheduled fees for church services especially in the celebration of the sacraments. Thus, the couples did not have to pay for it except the voluntary love offering during the offertory. As we approach the 5th centennial of the coming of the Christian Faith to our country (2021) we pay heed to the wishes of the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines), following the mandate of PCP II (2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines), we hope to abolish the Arancel system and put in its place a formation program on the spirituality of stewardship, transparency, and accountability in the wise management of temporal good,” he added.

The arancel system in the Church refers to the practice of giving stipends to priests for specific church services.

Other dioceses have started creating guidelines for the uniform and gradual removal of the arancel system.

Pope Francis said churches should not charge the services they provide as sacraments are gifts from God. (PNA)