Monday, August 6, 2007

Another Sunday - take a drive, go the the mall, do some shopping and attend church.

I have no idea how many regional-size shopping malls in the US have churches or church services. I doubt it is many, for so many reasons.

But in the Philippines, specifically Manila, mall operators need to plan for space so priests can celebrate Sunday mass. A largely Catholic nation (85%, IIRC), when I last visited Manila I was flabbergasted when I went to the mall and saw Mass being celebrated in the middle of the courtyard! No, church was not held in a vacant storefront (I hardly remember seeing any vacancies)...it was right between stores and you were asked to be relatively quiet while walking by.

I was reminded of this by a recent story I read where Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales requested that Mass "be held in the establishments’ chapels or in decent places, even “in a quiet corner” where people could actively participate." Remember however that trips to the mall in the Philippines are practically a national pastime.

Now developers, who are building malls so large that they make what we have here look puny in comparison, are building permanent chapels in their facilities. That is easier to do there than here, again for many reasons, including First Amendment claims, lower dirt and construction costs and increased opportunity costs in a Catholic country where one can argue that the extra cost is justified by the increase in foot traffic. It also does not hurt that the matriarch of the billionaire Sy family, the largest mall developer in the country, is a devout Catholic.

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