Cardinal Tagle defends Nazareno devotees vs ‘fanatic’ tag

Paterno Esmaquel II
Cardinal Tagle defends Nazareno devotees vs ‘fanatic’ tag
'Ang tunay na deboto ay nagmamahal,' says Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in his homily on the 2019 Feast of the Black Nazarene

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle defended Nazareno devotees  against accusations that they engage in “fanaticism,” as Catholics marked the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Wednesday, January 9.

“Parang taun-taon ay parang kinukwestyon, ‘yan ba ay tama, ‘yan ba ay mahalaga – ‘yung pagiging deboto,” Tagle said in his homily during the Midnight Mass at the Quirino Grandstand. (It seems that every year it is questioned if that is right, if that is important – being a devotee.)

At meron pang isang salita na kanilang ginagamit, ‘Hindi ba yan panatisismo?’ Eh kung pareho, bakit may salitang deboto?” (And there’s a word that they always use: Isn’t that fanaticism? But if these are the same, why is there the word “devotee”?)

Tagle proceeded to enumerate the characteristics of a devotee. “Una, ang tunay na deboto ay nagmamahal (First, real devotee loves),” he said.

He said a fanatic, on the other hand, does not love.

Ang panatiko, nang-aano lang ‘yan eh, kumakapit sa isang nagbibigay ng halaga sa akin. Pero ang deboto, hindi iyon ang dahilan. Devoted ka dahil mahal mo siya. ‘Yan ang ipinakita ni Hesus. ‘Yan din ang diwa ng debosyon,” he said. (A fanatic only clings to something that gives value to him. But a devotee does not share the same reasoning. You are devoted because you love him or her. That is what Jesus showed. That is also the value of devotion.)

Ang panatiko, kapag hindi na nakuha ang kanyang gusto, titigil na ‘yan. Pero ang deboto, dahil nagmamahal, mananatiling tapat, may nakukuha man siya o wala. Basta mahal kita, paglilingkuran kita, at magiging tapat ako sa iyo,” the Cardinal added.

(A fanatic, once he does not get what he wants, will already stop. But a devotee, because he or she loves, will remain faithful, whether or not he gets something out of it. Because I love you, I will serve you, and I will be faithful to you.)

Tagle added two other characteristics of a true devotee: faithfulness and oneness with the one a devotee loves.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene revolves around the devotion to the suffering Christ, represented by a 17th-century mulatto image of Jesus of Nazareth.

The highlight of the feast is the Traslacion, a nearly 24-hour procession that reenacts the transfer of the Black Nazarene image, also called the Nazareno, to Quiapo Church. The procession begins at Quirino Grandstand in Manila and ends in the Nazareno’s home in Quiapo. 

Quiapo Church expects around 5 million devotees to join the Traslacion this year. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at