The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine: Do We have to Make “Beso-Beso” with Priests? by Lianne Tiu

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“Beso-beso” which originated from the Spanish word for “kiss,” has become a common greeting in the Philippines. It is a cheek-to-cheek kiss between a man and a woman, a parent and a child, two women, or two men. For many upper class- Filipinos, it is a normal greeting among relatives and close friends, and there is no squeamishness about it. However, there are situations which we can ask ourselves if this social gesture extends to people we meet for the first time, to casual acquaintances, to business people, or to church leaders? There are instances when we notice older men taking advantage by making “beso-beso” with younger or pretty girls. Would not a smile or a handshake be a better alternative in these situations?

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With regards to clerics, we have to be aware that they have a vow of chastity. In fact, Canon 277 reminds them: “Clerics are to conduct themselves with due prudence in associating with persons whose company could endanger their obligation to observe continence or could cause scandal for the faithful.” Women and young girls should have a delicate reserve in their dealings with priests. Instead of making “beso-beso,” they may greet the priests with a smile or a handshake and a “Good morning/afternoon/evening, Father.” Men may give them a hug (if they are the hugging type). It is also good to be familiar with some forms of address to show respect to them. We greet the Pope as “Your Holiness,” “Most Holy Father,” or “Holy Father;” the Cardinal as “Your Eminence;” the Archbishop and Bishop as “Your Excellency;” a Monsignor as “Monsignor;” and the Priest as “Father.”

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Avoiding “beso-beso” with the priests is our way of showing deep respect for them – these men who are entirely consecrated to Christ and to the Church.

Reference: “How to Address Church Officials” by Father William Saunders; “Priestly Celibacy in the Code of Canon Law;” “Training for Priestly Celibacy” by Pope Paul VI; Wikipedia

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