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Simbang Gabi is for worship, not courtship, couples told

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday encouraged men and women who are in a relationship to attend the traditional Simbang Gabi in order "put God in their friendship."

"The boyfriends-girlfriends, who go together for Simbang Gabi, must be encouraged," said CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas. "It means they are putting God as the setting of their friendship."

However, the Jaro parish in Iloilo said the couples should not attend the Simbang Gabi and just stay outside the churches.

"Simbang Gabi is for worship, not for courtship," the parish said in an article posted on the CBCP news website, as it urged the couples to also participate in the Eucharistic celebration.

Simbang Gabi, or Dawn Mass, is a nine-day novena masses held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prior to Christmas Day. It starts on December 16 with the 4 a.m. mass and culminates with the Misa de Gallo on Christmas Eve.

Villegas noted that the call is timely in view of the theme adopted by the Catholic Church in the forthcoming year and the International Eucharistic Congress next month.

"The Simbang Gabi of 2015 will focus on the Year of the Eucharist and the Family as spiritual preparation for the IEC in Cebu," he said. —KBK, GMA News