Philippines, The Catholic Church in
PHILIPPINES, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
The Philippine archipelago consists of 7,107 islands stretching southward from the southern coast of China; the largest are Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south. Central Philippines comprises several medium-sized islands known as the Visayan Islands. Stretching from the southwestern tip of Mindanao toward Borneo is a chain of small islands collectively known as the Sulu Archipelago.
There is evidence of human settlements in the islands as early as 20,000 b.c. First to arrive were the small black people called Negritos by the Spaniards. They were driven into the mountainous interior when brown-skinned Malays migrated to the islands. Today, one finds various hill tribes such as the Aetas and Ifugao of Luzon and the Mansakas, Mandayas, and Bukidnon of Mindanao, many of whom still practice their traditional religions. Malay Filipinos occupy the lowlands and constitute the majority of the population. The modern Republic of the Philippines is one of only two countries in Asia that have a predominantly Roman Catholic population (the other country being East Timor).
Arrival of Spaniards. In March 1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrived in search of spices and converts for Charles I (Emperor Charles V). It was his son Prince Philip, later King philip ii, whose name was bestowed on the islands by Villalobos in 1542. Lapulapu, a native chieftain of Cebu, resisted Magellan's claim of Spanish sovereignty and mortally wounded him. In 1565 Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the first permanent Spanish settlement in Cebu. In 1571 Legazpi moved his headquarters to Manila, making it the capital of the colony. By the end of the century, most of the lowlands were under Spanish rule, except for some southern islands, which had been Muslim since the late 14th or early 15th century. When the Spaniards encountered the Muslims in the Philippines, their hostile attitudes based on Muslim-Christian encounters in Europe (the struggle for independence from Moorish rule in the Iberian Peninsula) colored their outlook and relations; these very negative attitudes were also transmitted to non-Muslim Filipinos.
Systematic Christianization. An organized program of evangelization of the Philippines was begun in 1565 by the augustinians who accompanied Legazpi's expedition. They were followed by franciscans (1578), jesuits (1581), dominicans (1587), and augustinian recollects (1606) from both Spain and Mexico. Manila became a bishopric in 1579 and an archbishopric in 1595. The Spanish system of the patronato real facilitated the implementation of the evangelization program. Under
this arrangement, the Spanish crown gave financial support and protection to the Church in the Philippines while exercising a large measure of control over its activities. Missionaries traveled to the Philippines in the king's ships. While engaged in mission work, they were entitled to a stipend drawn from either the colonial government directly or from the right to tribute in certain territories (encomiendas) into which the country was initially divided. The encomienda system was gradually abandoned during the 17th century after widespread criticism of extortion and other abuses.
On the other hand, the appointment of missionaries to a parish or mission station was subject to the approval of the governor as vice-patron. In fact, it was Philip II himself who determined that each missionary group should have its own section of the country for evangelization purposes. Under this system the Church in turn exerted great influence on government policy. The early missionaries often sought to protect the natives from the abuses of the conquistadors and encomenderos ; they had a vigorous leader in Fray Domingo de salazar, OP, the first bishop of the Philippines. The synod that he summoned in 1582 clarified many difficult problems regarding the conquest, settlement, and administration of the country in accordance with Christian ideals and principles of justice.
The Philippine Church of the 16th century certainly took sides, and it was not with the rich and powerful nor with their fellow Spaniards, but with those who were oppressed and victims of injustice. Church historian J. N. Schumacher notes: "Skeptics have often questioned the reality of the rapid conversion of 16th-century Filipinos. If one wishes the answer, it is to be found right here, that the Church as a whole took the side of the poor and the oppressed, whether the oppressors were Spaniards or Filipino principales."
Mission Methods. The Spanish missionaries in the Philippines employed a variety of approaches to evangelization. The scattered clan villages were gathered together into larger communities (pueblos, cabeceras ); often
this implied radical lifestyle changes and hence could only be accomplished with difficulty and very gradually. Instruction was given in native languages, as few Filipinos outside the Intramuros area of Manila were ever able to read, write, or speak Spanish with any proficiency. In most missions primary schools supplied the new Christian communities with catechists and local officials. Religion was made to permeate society by substituting splendid liturgical and paraliturgical observances (fiestas, processions, novenas) for the traditional rites and festivals; many pious associations of prayer and charity were formed and promoted.
Education and social services were almost exclusively the concern of the Church during the entire period of Spanish rule. By the end of the 16th century, Manila had three hospitals, one for Spaniards, another for natives, and a third for the Chinese. The first two were administered by Franciscans, the third by the Dominicans. In 1611, the Hospitallers of St. John of God established their hospital ministry in the Philippines. In 1595, the Jesuits opened a grammar school for Spanish boys that later developed into the University of San Ignacio and had attached to it the residential college of San José, founded in 1601 and today the San José Seminary. The year 1611 saw the beginnings of the Dominican University of Santo Tomás, which continues today as a vibrant educational center. In 1640 the Dominicans also took charge of the College of San Juan de Letrán, started about a decade earlier by a zealous layman for the education of orphans. Various religious communities of women established themselves in Manila in the 17th and 18th centuries; frequently, they undertook the education of girls. In 1684, Ignacia del Espírito Santo founded the first religious institute for local Filipino women, the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM).
The considerable funds required for the support of these schools, hospitals, and charitable works came from pious donations and legacies, called obras pías ; they were often invested in the galleon trade or in large agricultural estates, the so-called friar lands. At the same time, the friar lands were leased to tenant cultivators for development and administration, an arrangement that led to frequent conflicts of interest and a deepening resentment of the Church as landlord. This background must be borne in mind for a balanced understanding of the anticlerical reaction that developed in the latter 19th century among a people deeply and sincerely Catholic.
Native Clergy. By the 18th century, Catholicism had taken permanent root in the Philippines as the religion of the people. However, it had one serious weakness: the retarded development of the native clergy. The unsatisfactory results of early experiments in Latin America had made the Spanish missionaries in the Philippines extremely cautious in admitting native candidates to the priesthood. Apparently, only in the late 17th century were native Filipinos ordained. A proposal of Gianbattista Sidotti, a member of Cardinal Charles de tournon's entourage, to erect a regional seminary in Manila for the whole of East Asia was sharply rejected by the Spanish Crown in 1712. Bishops became increasingly eager for a diocesan clergy completely under their jurisdiction when conflicts over parish appointments continued—conflicts between the bishops and the religious orders on the one hand, and the bishops and the government on the other. Since very few secular priests came to the Philippines from Spain, this meant ordaining large numbers of natives. Archbishop Sancho de Santa Justa y Rufina of Manila (1767–1787) threatened to take away their parishes from the religious who refused to submit to episcopal visitation; he also ordained natives even when they lacked the necessary aptitude and training. The results proved disastrous, confirming the prevailing opinion that natives, even if admitted to the priesthood, were incapable of assuming its full responsibilities. Some improvement in formation and an increase in vocations occurred after the arrival of the vincentians (1862), who took charge of diocesan seminaries. Even so, the departure of a large proportion of Spanish clergy after the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States (1898) left over 700 parishes vacant.
Religious Clergy. The privileges of the Patronato Real conferred by the Holy See on the Spanish crown were a mixed blessing; they promoted constructive collaboration between the Church and the colonial government, but also led to friction. The focus of difficulty was the religious parish priest and the extent to which he was subject to episcopal visitation and control. The conflict gave rise to series of crises that began as early as the administration of Bishop Salazar (1581-1594). In 1744 the Holy See ruled that religious parish priests were subject to the jurisdiction of the ordinary in all matters pertaining to their parish duties (in officio officiando ) and to their religious superiors in their personal conduct. With the advent of the revolutionary era in Europe and the loss of Spain's American colonies, the terms of the problem in the Philippines changed. It became widely believed in official circles that the presence of the religious in the parishes was a political necessity, not so much because they were religious as because they were Spaniards and could be relied upon to keep the population loyal. This seems to have been the thinking behind the royal decree of 1862 transferring the Mindanao missions from the Augustian Recollects to the newly returned Jesuits (they had been expelled in 1768) and giving the former an equivalent number of parishes in Manila and Cavite, which were consequently taken away from the native clergy. The result was mounting disaffection among the native priests thus deprived or threatened with removal. Naturally, the Filipino priests assailed the government policy; among their active leaders and spokesmen were Fathers Gómez, Burgos, and Zamora, who were executed by the government for alleged complicity in a mutiny of native garrison troops in Cavite (1872).
Emerging Nationalism and Change in the Church. The deaths of these Filipino priests gave a powerful impetus to the emergence of Filipino nationalism by sensitizing Filipinos to injustices by the Spanish colonial government. The movement began as an initiative for colonial
reforms led by Dr. José Rizal (1862–1896). After Rizal's arrest and execution for treason, it developed into a separatist movement. The ensuing revolution (1896–1898), which was markedly anti-friar, though usually not anticlerical or anti-Catholic, was cut short by the intervention of the United States, which demanded cession of the Philippines at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War.
The change of sovereignty ended the Patronato system. The U.S. policy of Church-State separation was extended to the Philippines, but interpreted in a manner much less favorable to the Church. Thus, a system of nonsectarian public education was established that failed to take into account that the overwhelming majority of Filipinos were Catholics. In addition, there was the strong influence of hundreds of American public-school teachers, most of whom were Protestants. They were popularly known as the Thomasites; a group of 540 arrived in 1901 aboard the U.S.S. Thomas and many others followed. The professed neutralism in religious matters of the state university, founded in 1911, was copied by other privately founded nonsectarian universities, resulting in the undermining of religious belief among the educated class.
One consequence of the revolutionary upheaval was the formation by Gregorio Aglipay, a Filipino secular priest, of a schismatic church along nationalist lines, the Philippine Independent Church or Iglesia Filipina Independiente (1902). Initially it drew a considerable following; however, it soon broke up into factions, some of which rapidly deserted Catholicism in doctrine as well as in discipline. The Supreme Court in 1907 also restored to the Catholic Church much of the property that had been taken over by the Aglipayans. The largest Trinitarian faction was received into full communion by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, established in the Philippines since the beginning of the century.
Protestant denominations sent mission personnel to the Philippines almost as soon as the transfer of sovereignty was effected. In 1901 Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and United Brethren groups, along with societies such as the Christian Missionary Alliance, the YMCA, and the American Bible Society, formed an Evangelical Union to coordinate their activities. A denomination of local origin with an evangelical orientation, the Iglesia ni Cristo, was founded in 1914.
The Church suffered disastrously during the years following 1898; in several respects it would be decades before a condition approximating normalcy would again be reached. From 1898 to 1900 there were almost no resident bishops; diocesan priests remained in very short supply and some had defected to the Aglipayans; seminaries were closed in 1898 and did not reopen until 1904. From 1898 to 1903 the total number of friars decreased over 75 percent from 1,013 to 246. In a word, the Church was in chaos. The true beginnings of the reorganization of the Church began with the persistent efforts of Monsignor Guidi through his negotiations with the U.S. government and the Filipino clergy. Pope leo xiii, in his apostolic letter Quae mari sinico (1902) reorganized the hierarchy, created four new dioceses, and strongly recommended to the Philippine hierarchy the formation of a native clergy. The first official Provincial Council of Manila was convened in 1907 with the goals of reviving the faith of the Filipinos, restoring the local church, and inspiring in the clergy a spirit of apostolic zeal.
Meanwhile, the severe shortage of priests and religious was met in part by new, non-Spanish missionary congregations of women and men from Europe, Australia, and the United States. For example, male missionary societies that responded to the pressing needs in the 1905-41 period are: Irish redemptorists (1905), mill hill missionaries (1906), Scheut-CICM (1907), Sacred Heart Missionaries and Divine Word Society (1908), De La Salle Brothers (1911), Oblates of Saint Joseph (1915), Maryknoll Missioners (1926), Columban Missioners (1929), Society of Saint Paul (1935), Quebec-PME Society (1937), and Oblates-OMI (1939). Many dedicated female religious came as missionaries to the Philippines, often working in partnership with the societies just mentioned.
By the mid-1920s, the situation was taking a turn for the better; some significant factors in the survival and resurgence of the Church were: the revitalization of Catholic education, growth of Filipino diocesan and religious vocations, a more educated laity, Church involvement in social questions and the labor movement, and the involvement of Catholics in national life. The celebration of the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (1937) focused the attention of the Christian world on the Philippines and deeply inspired thousands of Filipino Catholics.
The Church from 1941 to 1965. Japanese forces invaded the Philippines in December of 1941. Allied forces under General MacArthur returned in 1944, but intense fighting continued until the Japanese surrender in August of 1945. Manuel Roxas became president of the second independent Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946. The war inflicted heavy damage; 257 priests and religious lost their lives. Priests, brothers, sisters, and dedicated Catholic women and men exhibited great faith and heroism during the war; many suffered imprisonment.
The origins of what is known today as the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) can be traced back to February 1945 when Apostolic Delegate William Piani, even as the war was still raging, appointed John Hurley, S.J. to take charge of relief work and created the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO). As the very name indicates, the primary purpose of the CWO was to assist in alleviating the immediate suffering and destruction brought on by the war. On July 17, 1945, the bishops met in Manila for their first meeting after the Japanese Occupation; they requested that the CWO become the official organization of the Hierarchy of the Philippines. In subsequent years, the CWO continued to be largely engaged in relief services and the rehabilitation of Church institutions; it also became the vehicle through which the interests and values of the Church were protected and furthered.
The period from 1945 to 1965 was characterized by rapid recovery from the ravages of war, greatly expanded school system at upper levels, involvement of Catholics (laity, sisters, clergy) in social action, and growing Filipinization of Church structures and administration. The First Plenary Council of the Philippines (1953) focused on the "preservation, enrichment, and propagation of Catholic life" and offered Church resources "to renew the social order." The Church became involved in catholic action programs with farmers (FFF) and workers (FFW). Guidance from the hierarchy continued; from 1945 to 1965 the CWO issued 39 joint pastoral letters and statements on a variety of subjects relevant to Church and civil society. The Philippine bishops sponsored a Marian Congress in Manila (1954) and inaugurated the Pontificio Collegio-Seminario Filippino in Rome (1961). The period saw renewal programs introduced; the Christian Family Movement (CFM) came to the Philippines in the 1950s; the Cursillos de Cristianidad introduced in 1963
(and the evangelization seminars for various Church sectorial groups they inspired) ignited a renewed fervor of lay involvement in the Church.
In mid-1965, the nation observed a six-day renewal celebration of the quadricentennial of evangelization in the Philippines (1565–1965). The bishops established the Mission Society of the Philippines, signifying Filipino's commitment to spread the faith they had received to other lands. Two more events would prove to shape significantly the experience and mission of this local Church. The first was the election of Ferdinand Marcos as president of the Philippines; the second was the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.
Authoritarian Rule and Revolt. The Philippine constitution, modeled on that of the United States, established a democratic form of government. Ferdinand E. Marcos, first elected president in 1965, declared martial law in 1972 and imposed a form of "constitutional authoritarianism." The martial law period posed new, challenging questions for the Church and nation. Among the more pernicious effects of the two-decade Marcos era (1965–1986) were increased militarization, insurgency, the absence of juridical procedures, the destruction of
democratic processes, economic decline, and pervasive fear. The end result, in the words of a Filipino social scientist, was to place the country "on the trembling edge of a social volcano." This period proved a time of testing and growth for the Church. Prophetic stances were often met by military abuse, imprisonment and torture, and even deportation for foreign missionaries. The Church evolved a position of "critical collaboration," cooperating with the regime on programs beneficial to the populace while criticizing government actions judged harmful.
An important 1977 pastoral letter, The Bond of Love in Proclaiming the Good News, addressed many social problems as well as the divisions within the Church created by various positions taken regarding martial law (e.g. the absence of a clear stance and the long-delayed response on the part of most members of the hierarchy; the infiltration of Church structures and institutions by left-leaning priests and religious). The pastoral letter sought to enunciate a clear, holistic vision to guide the Church's mission of integral evangelization.
President Marcos announced the lifting of martial law on Jan. 17, 1981. It was carefully timed—three days before the inauguration of President Ronald Regan, and one month before Pope john paul ii's visit to the Philippines. In view of the broad range of authoritarian controls that Marcos retained, the lifting of martial law was recognized by the Filipino people as purely cosmetic. The papal visit brought two clear messages to Filipinos: a need for dynamic faith in their lives and an emphasis on justice and peace. Specifically, John Paul II told the president and government leaders: "Even in exceptional situations that may at times arise, one can never justify any violation of the fundamental dignity of the human person or of the basic rights that safeguard this dignity."
The assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino on Aug. 21, 1983, ushered in a period of national mourning and a widespread clamor for justice and truth. In this highly charged atmosphere the Church's response was crucial. Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila since 1974, cautioned Filipinos: "If we allow his death to fan the flames of violence and division, then he will have died in vain." Events moved rapidly in the ensuing years. Filipino consciousness had been awakened; Philippine society had been galvanized. In 1986, Marcos attempted to forestall his overthrow by staging elections. Corazon Aquino, widow of the slain Benigno, won the popular vote, and when the national assembly nevertheless declared Marcos the winner, the Filipino people took to the streets in protest. The Church did not remain on the sidelines during this national crisis. In the volatile context that followed the elections, the Catholic bishops issued a statement declaring that fraud provides no moral legitimacy for any regime. If citizens agreed that the election had been stolen, they should oblige the regime to respect their will. However, resistance "must always be according to the Gospel of Christ, that is, in a peaceful, non-violent way."
An analysis of the story of the "bloodless revolution" of February 1986 and the roles played by church people and Cardinal Sin is instructive. The overthrow of the Marcos regime was "a victory of moral values over the sheer physical force on which he had relied" [J. Carroll]. It signaled people's determination not to shed Filipino blood. The revolution was a "movement for active non-violence which was promoted by Church-related groups" [ibid. ]. In addition, "the February Revolution was a political event, not a social revolution" [ibid. ]. Basic social issues of wealth and power that plagued the nation for generations remained. Many Filipinos still found themselves outside the mainstream of national social, political, and economic life.
The Aquino Presidency. Corazon Aquino, catapulted into office with little experience, served as Philippine president from 1986 to 1992. Her main contribution was the reestablishment of a democratically functioning government. In May 1986, Aquino appointed a constitutional commission (including church people) and asked that a new document be produced within three months. This constitution was ratified overwhelmingly by a national referendum in 1987. Difficult issues facing Aquino included a bankrupt economy, the status of the U.S. military bases, continuing political insurgency (including militant Islamic separatists), natural disasters, a burgeoning population, foreign debt, agrarian reform—the list appeared endless. Yet she guided the Filipino people to free and fair elections in May 1992 and the orderly transfer of power to President Fidel Ramos (1992–1998), the first Protestant to become President of the Philippines.
The Marcos years further accentuated the mass poverty that had long been and continues to be the most tragic aspect of Filipino life. Fifteen years after he was overthrown, his ruinous legacy was still felt: 50 percent of Filipinos lived below the poverty line; servicing the domestic and foreign debt absorbed an average of 40 percent of the government budget; unemployment was at 11.8 percent and underemployment stood at 22 percent; 10 percent of the total population had to work abroad as migrant workers; graft and corruption remained prevalent—even endemic; environmental degradation remained unabated; and infant mortality rated among the highest in Asia. In stark contrast to the widespread immense poverty, there remained pockets of great luxury, brutally emphasizing the gross inequity of income distribution. In the political system, power, like wealth, remained concentrated in the hands of a few influential politicians, business and military people. There appeared to be a self-perpetuating social system and political culture. Politicians, for the most part, had not introduced truly transformative social programs into their platforms.
The Implementation of Vatican II. vatican council ii promoted a major ecclesiological paradigm shift, entailing changes in theologies, values, and orientations. Received by the local Church of the Philippines, it prompted the Filipino bishops to launch a New Evangelization; the social apostolate was among its emphases. Early efforts centered on the formation and support of unions and cooperatives for farmers, laborers, and fishermen. The bishops issued several pastoral letters on social action, justice and development. They sponsored a National Rural Development Congress in 1967, the slogan of which, "The Church Goes to the Barrios," became axiomatic for the Church's commitment to development and social justice. The bishops established and funded the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA) as their means of coordinating the social justice apostolate. In 1971, the influential Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference (MSPC) was established. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Church's vision of human development as integral to evangelization expanded from
a concern for social change to include the need for structural change. It became clear that efforts that had improved the conditions of the farming and working classes could not be sustained without corresponding political leverage. Church involvement in broader social, political, and economic questions became imperative.
Vatican II's ecclesiology took root in the Philippine Church, resulting in a mature, vibrant local Church. The presence of strong basic christian communities (BCCs) provided grass-roots structures for spiritual, catechetical, ministerial, and social growth. Important strengths developed within this Church: the inductive and experimental approach of theology; its inculturated social teaching; its spirituality of human development; its renewed ecclesiology/missiology; its concrete service to many Filipinos facing diverse dehumanizing social ills; its engagement in social issues in a non-partisan but active manner; its efforts to promote and practice non-violent approaches to socio-political crises; its commitment to create structures of participation in Church and society. The Church also had its witnesses and martyrs: Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, OMI (Feb. 4, 1997), Father Rhoel Gallardo, CMF (May 3, 2000), and Father Benjamin Inocencio, OMI (Dec. 28, 2000).
The Philippine bishops have continued, with moderate effectiveness, to use pastoral letters to communicate their holistic vision of the Church's evangelizing mission. The CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, canonically constituted in 1967) has issued more than 125 pastoral letters and statements in the period 1965 to 2000, two-thirds of which address social, political, and economic matters. Bishop Claver noted that they have generally proven to be quite accurate barometers of Philippine life. This effective tool of evangelization has promoted a basic Christian "faith-realism" and continually needs to be actualized within viable Christian communities.
The Church today retains moral authority and credibility in Philippine society; its witness to justice and solidarity with the poor, marginalized, and oppressed has established a reservoir of good will and credibility. Yet, as a living organism, she has clear limitations. There were unfortunate divisions in Church leadership, particularly in the mid-1970s; this resulted in missed pastoral opportunities and negative influences on the broader Church membership. Some bishops were hesitant to engage in human development programs and prophetic evangelization especially during the early years of martial law. Although indigenous clergy and religious continue to increase, that growth rate is below the percentage of population increase. There is also a glaring inequitable distribution of apostolic personnel within the country, with an over-concentration in urban areas.
Catechesis and Education. Given the large and rapidly expanding population of the Philippines, catechesis for Catholics remains a basic area of Church renewal. The catechetical ministry has shown considerable growth in vision, publications, institutes, and personnel. The Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE) has published several works and sponsored a variety of national workshops and congresses. Significant publications include The Shape of Religious Education in the Philippines (1979), National Catechetical Directory for the Philippines (1982-1985), Filipino Family Growing in the Faith (1983), The Catechists' Basic Formation Program (1992), Catholic Faith Catechism (1989-1993), Catechism for Filipino Catholics (1997) and its Tagalog translation Katesismo para sa mga Pilipinong Katoliko (2000). ECCCE publishes a quarterly catechetical review, Docete, which has raised interest in and the quality level of catechesis throughout the country.
Significant catechetical congresses were sponsored by ECCCE in the 1990s, beginning with the celebration of the National Catechetical Year (1990). Diocesan catechetical institutes were established in major cities (e.g. Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo. Manila, Naga, Vigan, etc.). Other national centers which prepare women and men for their vocation as catechists (e.g. Mother of Life Center, Manila) continue their decades of service. The Philippine constitution affords opportunities for religious education in public schools; this critical area of the catechetical ministry is limited by inadequate numbers of adequately formed catechists.
The Philippine Church continues to operate hundreds of high schools and grade schools as well as over 300 colleges and universities. The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), founded in 1941, continues to represent the interests of Catholic educational institutions and promote religious instruction. Similar activities are the focus of the Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines (ACUP), established in 1973.
A unique and successful form of religious education and renewal has evolved in the Philippine Church with the holding of large national congresses, dedicated to particular themes. Delegates were expected to become trainer-facilitators upon their return home; audio and video tapes as well as printed materials of the congresses are made available. This approach proved particularly effective in the years connected with the Great Jubilee 2000. A partial list includes the following: Marian Year (1985), Eucharistic Year (1987), Bible Year (1989), Catechetical Year (1990), World Youth Day (1995), Eucharistic Congress (1997), two Holy Spirit Congresses (1998), Congress on God the Father (1999), Congress on the Trinity (2000), and the National Mission Congress (2000).
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). The 50th anniversary celebrations of the CBCP in 1995 became an opportunity to review and assess the CBCP"re, structure, mission, and functions. The CBCP amended its constitution and bylaws; it established the new offices dedicated to media, legal matters, research, bioethics, women, and the cultural heritage of the Church. The CBCP now has 33 departments, commissions, and offices to address the many concerns of this local Church. In addition, the bishops relaunched the CBCP Monitor in a new format, initiated a weekly radio program, and established the CBCP Website [http://www.cbcp.net]. Responsive to the call for renewal in Tertio Millennio Adveniente, the CBCP issued a series of exhaustive and in-depth pastoral exhortations, designed to address vital aspects of Philippine life and Christianity: Philippine Politics (1997), Philippine Economy (1998), Philippine Culture (1999), and Philippine Spirituality (2000). The bishops concluded the series with their document on the Philippine Church's Mission in the New Millennium. The CBCP also sponsored the large National Mission Congress, which they saw as the "fitting culminating activity" of the Jubilee Year celebrations and the "first step as a Local Church into the Third Millennium."
Additional Ministries. Dialogue and peace-building with a variety of partners remain a continuous commitment of the Philippine Church. It strove to be an instrument of reconciliation during the Marcos years; along with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, she made several overtures to various leftist and armed groups. In their 1990 pastoral letter, Seek Peace, Pursue It, the bishops laid out a ten-point path to peace. The Church also engages in interfaith dialogue with indigenous and Muslim peoples; the Silsilah movement and the pivotal Bishops-Ulama Forum have worked to foster Muslim-Christian harmony in Southern provinces. The annual Mindanao Week of Peace was begun in 1999.
Local Theologies. The Philippines has an impressive growing body of local theology emerging from local communities. Recurrent themes include evangelization, prayer, spirituality, peace-making and reconciliation, dialogue with peoples, cultures, and religious traditions. Several important theological, pastoral, catechetical, and mission journals are published. Prominent among Filipino theologians are C. Arévalo, T. Bacani, F. Claver, A. Co, D. Huang, A. Lagdameo, L. Legaspi, L. Mercado, J.-M. de Mesa, O. Quevedo, and L. Tagle.
Continuing Renewal and Commitment. A definite sign of a vibrant local Church is its mission outreach. In mid-2000 Catholic Filipino missionaries numbered 1,329 women and 206 men from 69 religious congregations serving in some 80 countries. The bishops established the Mission Society of the Philippines (1965). Maryknoll founded the Philippine Catholic Lay Mission (1977). Cardinal Sin established the San Lorenzo Mission Institute (1987), whose goal is serving the Chinese; its patron is San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, canonized in 1987. Pedro Calungsod, beatified on March 5, 2000, inspired the successful National Mission Congress 2000.
A major Church milestone was achieved in the 1991 month-long Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II). After three years of intense preparation, a total of 504 participants (including 165 lay faithful) gathered for a comprehensive review and renewal of Christian life. The Council challenged the local Church to be "a Community of Disciples, a Church of the Poor, committed to the mission of renewed integral evangelization, toward building up of a new civilization of life and love in this land." A systematic implementation scheme was elaborated in the National Pastoral Plan, In the State of Mission: Towards a Renewed Integral Evangelization, approved by the bishops on July 11, 1993.
In January of 2001, delegates gathered for the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR) and reflected on "how far we as a Church have fulfilled the grand vision and mission proposed by PCP-II and the National Pastoral Plan." The evaluation was both sober and hopeful: "The Church in the Philippines has, to our shame… remained unchanged in some respects…;we, as Church, have to confess some responsibility for many of the continuing ills of Philippine society…. We rejoice, however, in the perseverance and increase of many movements of renewal…; we hear anew God's call to renewal." NPCCR recommitted the Church to nine focused pastoral priorities for the first decade of the new millennium; they center on faith, formation, laity, the poor, the family, community-building, clergy renewal, youth, ecumenism-dialogue, and ad gentes mission.
Providentially, the NPCCR, as originally scheduled, took place during the week immediately following the People Power II events of Jan. 16–20, 2001 that removed Joseph Estrada from the Philippine presidency after only a little over two years of his six-year term; Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became the fourteenth president and the second woman to hold the highest office in the land. There was muted euphoria; the Church had played a significant role; the event was described as "the gift of national and moral renewal which God empowered the Filipinos to receive." The tasks ahead were clear: democratic institutions needed strengthening; confidence in government awaited restoration; poverty demanded amelioration; the economy needed rebuilding. The Philippine Church's commitment to "renewed integral evangelization" took on new depths and urgency.
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[j. h. kroeger]