The Church in the Philippines

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The Church in the Philippines  (1903) 
by Pope Leo XIII
As translated in the 1903 The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII

THE CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES.

The broad stretch of islands bounded by the China Sea and the Pacific Ocean which PhiUp II., King of Spain, called the Phihppines, were scarcely opened up by Ferd- inand Magellan at the beginning of the sixteenth century when, with the image of the holy cross planted on their shores, they were consecrated to God and offered as a first-fruit offering of the Catholic religion.

From that time the Roman Pontiff's, with the aid of Charles V. and Philip his son, both remarkable for their zeal for spreading the faith, have thought nothing more urgent than to convert the islanders, who were idol-wor- shippers, to the faith of Christ. With God's help, by the strenuous efforts of the members of different religious orders, this came about very favorably and in such a short time that Gregory XIII. decided to appoint a bishop for the growing Church there, and constituted Manila an Episcopal See. With this happy beginning the growth which followed in after years corresponded in every way. Owing to the united measures of Our predecessors and of the Spanish kings, slavery was abolished, the inhabitants were trained in the ways of civilization by the study of arts and letters, so that the people and Church in the Phil- ippines were deservedly distinguished by the renown of their nation and their meritorious zeal for religion. In this way, under the direction of the kings of Spain and the patronage of the Roman Pontiffs, Catholicity was maintained with due order in the Philippine Islands. But the change which the fortunes of war have wrought in civil matters there has affected reUgion also; for when

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the Spanish yoke was removed the patronage of the Spanish kings ceased, and as a result the Church attained to a larger share of Uberty, ensuring for every one rights which are safe and unassailable.

To provide against the relaxation of ecclesiastical disci- phne in this new state of affairs, a plan of action and of organization had to be sought promptly and with great care. For this purpose We sent Our Venerable Brother Placide Louis Chapelle, Archbishop of New Orleans, as Our Delegate Extraordinary to the Philippine Islands, who, after examining in person and putting to rights whatever would not admit of delay or postponement, was then to report to Us. The duties thus imposed he has discharged faithfully in Our behalf, and deserves for this reason that We should bestow on him well-merited praise. Later it happened auspiciously that the Government of the United States of America undertook, by means of a special legation, to consider plans for a way of adjusting certain questions regarding Catholic interests in the Phil- ippines. This enterprise We gladly encouraged, and by the skill and moderation of the negotiators a way has been opened for a settlement, which is to be effected on the ground itself. After hearing the opinions of some of the Holy Roman and Eminent Cardinals of the Sacred Congregation presiding over Extraordinary Affairs, We decree and declare in this Apostolical Constitution what has seemed, after long deliberation, to be most conducive for the interests of the Church in the Philippine Islands, trusting that what We, by Our supreme authority ordain, may, with the civil government righteously and favorably disposed, be zealously and piously observed.

First of all, therefore, it is Our intention and purpose to increase the sacred hierarchy. When the diocese of Manila had been created by Gregory XIII., as We have said, as the faithful rapidly increased in numbers, both by reason of the natives who embraced the Catholic re- ligion and of the arrivals from Europe, Clement VIII.


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decided to increase the number of bishops. He therefore elevated the Church in Manila to the dignity of an Archi- episcopate, making the Bishops of the three new dioceses he created,Cebu,Caceres, and Nueva Segovia, suffragans to it. To these was added later, in the year 1865, the Episcopal See of Jaro.

Now these dioceses are so vast that, owing to the dis- tance by which the settlements are separated and the difficulties of travel, the bishops can scarcely visit them thoroughly without extreme labor. Wherefore it is necessary to avail Ourselves of the present opportunity to reduce the dioceses alread}^ established to narrower limits, and to form new ones. Hence, keeping the Archiepiscopal See of Manila, and the dioceses of Cebu,Caceres, Nueva Segovia, and Jaro, We add to them and create four new dioceses: Lipa, Tuguegarao, Capiz, and Zamboanga, all, like the others, suffragan to the Manilan Metropolis. Moreover, in the Marian Islands, We create a Prefecture Apostolic subject, without any intermediate authority, to Ourselves and to Our successors.

The Archbishop of Manila is the one who will bear the title of Metropolitan" in the Philippine Islands; and all the other bishops, those who fill the old as well as those who are to occupy the newly created sees, will be subject to him, as suffragans both in rank and in name. The rights and the functions of the Metropolitan are laid down by the ecclesiastical laws already extant. As We wish that these laws be inviolably observed, so also do We wish that the bonds of holy friendship and charity be- tween the Metropolitan and his suffragans be ever unim- paired, and grow always closer and more binding by mu- tual services, exchange of counsel, and especially by fre- quent episcopal conventions, so far as distance may per- mit. Concord is the mother and guardian of the greatest benefits.

The dignity and precedence of the Metropolitan Church require that it should be honored by a College of Canons.


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The Delegate Apostolic will see and determine how to obtain in future the stipend for each of the canons, which hitherto was paid by the Spanish government. If, owing to the shrinkage of revenue, the number of canons cannot be maintained as heretofore, let it be reduced so as to consist of ten at least, and retain those who are canons by right of their office. The archbishop may by his owti unrestricted right confer the aforementioned dignities, the canonry, and all the benefices which belong to the Metropolitan Church; except, indeed, those which either by common law are reserved to the Apostolic See, or are the gift of some other person, or are controlled by the conditions of the concursus. We earnestly desire to have colleges of canons formed in the other cathedral churches also. Until such time as this can be done, the bishops are to choose for consultors some priests, secular and rehg- ious, distinguished by their piety, learning, and experience in administration, as is done in other dioceses in which there is no canonical chapter. To provide for the proper dignity of the sacred ceremonies, the consultors, just men- tioned, should attend the bishop when officiating. If for any reason they be prevented from so doing, the bishop will substitute others, worthy members of the clergy, both secular and religious.

Should it happen that any suffragan diocese, in which there is no canonical chapter, should lose its bishop, the Metropolitan will assume its administration; should there be none, the charge will fall to the nearest bishop, with the condition, however, that a vicar be chosen as soon as possible. Meanwhile the vicar-general of the deceased bishop will manage the diocese.

Since it is proved by experience that a native clergy is most useful ever^^where, the bishops must make it their care to increase the number of native priests, in such a manner, however, as to form them thoroughly in piety and character, and to make sure that they are worthy to be entrusted with ecclesiastical charges.


548 THE CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES.

Let them gradually appoint to the more responsible positions those whom practical experience will prove to be more efficient. Above all things, the clergy should hold to the rule that they are not to allow themselves to be mixed up in party strifes. Although it is a maxim of common law that he who fights for God should not be involved in worldly pursuits, We deem it necessary that men in Holy Orders in the present condition of affairs in the Philippine Islands should avoid this in a special man- ner. Moreover, since there is great power in harmony of sentiment for accomplishing every great useful work for the sake of religion, let all the priests, whether secular or religious, cultivate it most zealously. It is certainly proper that they who are one body of the one head Christ should not envy one another, but be of one will, loving one another with brotherly charity. To foster this charity and main- tain a vigorous discipline the bishops are reminded how very useful it is to convene a synod occasionally as time and place may require. In this way there will easily be unity in thought and action. To keep the first fervor of the priests from cooling and to preserve and increase the virtues which are worthy of the priesthood, the practice of the spiritual exercises is most helpful. The bishops must therefore see that all who have been called to the vine- yard of the Lord should at least every third year go into retreat in some suitable place to meditate on the eternal truths, to remove the stains contracted by worldly con- tamination and renew their ecclesiastical spirit. Effort must be made to have the study of the sacred sciences kept alive among the clergy by frequent exercise. For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, which he can teach the faithful, who shall seek the law at his mouth} For this purpose there is nothing better than to have conferences frequently, both on moral and on hturgical questions. If the difficulties of travelling, or the small number of priests, or any other similar cause prevents

' Malachy ii. 7.


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them from meeting for such discussions, it â– wdll be well to have those who cannot attend the conferences treat in writing the questions proposed and submit them to the bishop at the appointed time.

How much the Church thinks of seminaries for the young men who are educated with a view to the priest- hood, is clear from the decree of the Council of Trent, by which they were first instituted. The bishops should therefore make the m^ost diligent effort to have one in each diocese, in which young candidates for the sacred warfare may be received and trained for a holy living and in the lower and higher sciences. It is advisable that the boys who are studying literature should occupy their own building, and the young men who, after finishing the humanities, are devoted to philosophy and theology should dwell in another. In both departments the students should remain until, if deserving, they shall have been ordained priests, and never be permitted, except for grave reasons, to return to their homes. The bishop -wiW en- trust the administration of the seminary to one of the clergy, whether secular or religious, who is distinguished for his prudence and experience in governing and for holiness of life. The rules laid down by Us and Our predecessors show very clearly in what way the studies are to be regulated in seminaries. Where there is no seminary the bishop will have candidates educated in one of the seminaries of the neighboring diocese. On no account should the bishops admit to these seminaries any but the young men who are likely to give themselves to God in Holy Orders. Those who wish to study for the civil professions should have other schools, if it be pos- sible, known as episcopal institutions or colleges. Above all things the bishop, following the precept of the Apostle, is not lightly to lay hands on any one ; but to raise to Or- ders and to employ in sacred things only those who when well tried and duly advanced in science and virtue can be of credit and of ser\dce to a diocese. They are not to


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leave those who go out from the seminary entirely to themselves; but to keep them from idleness and from abandoning the study of the sacred sciences, it is an ex- cellent thing to have them every year for at least five years after ordination submit to an examination in dog- matic and moral theology before men of learning and au- thority. Since the halls of Rome also are open to young students from the Philippines who may wish to pursue the higher studies, it will afford Us much pleasure if the bishops send hither from time to time young men who may one day communicate to their fellow citizens the knowledge of religion acquired in this very centre of truth. This Holy See will do its share in the most effect- ive way to advance the secular clergy in higher learning and better ecclesiastical training, so that in good time it may be worthy to assume the pastoral charges now ad- ministered by the regular priests.

It is not to the ecclesiastical seminaries only that the bishops are to devote their attention; the young laymen who go to other schools are also committed to their care and providence. It is therefore the duty of the consecrated bishops to make every effort that the minds of the young who are instructed in the public schools should not lack knowledge of their religion. To have it taught properly, the bishops must see and insist that the teachers are fitted for this task and that the books in use contain no errors. Since there is question of public schools, We do not wish to proceed without a word of praise well de- served for the great Lyceum of Manila, founded by the Dominicans, and authorized by Innocent X. Since it has always been distinguished for sound doctrine and excel- lent teachers, for the great good it has accomplished, not only do We wish that it be treated with favor by all the bishops, but besides We take it under Our own care and that of Our successors. Wherefore confirming absolute- ly the privileges and honors granted to it by the Roman Pontiffs Innocent X. and Clement XII., We bestow upon it


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the title of Pontifical University, and wish that the aca- demic degrees conferred by it may have the same value as the degrees given by other Pontifical Universities.

Yielding to the opportunities of the new order of things in that region, the Holy Apostohc See has decided to make suitable provision for the religious men who look to a manner of Ufe proper to their Institute, devoted en- tirely to the duties of the sacred ministry, for the advance- ment of public morahty, the increase of Christianity and peaceful social intercourse. We recommend earnestly, therefore, to the members of the rehgious orders to dis- charge hohly the duties which they have assumed when pronouncing their vows, "giving no offense to any man." We command them to keep their rule of cloister invi- olably ; and wish therefore that all should be bound by the decree issued by the Congregation of Bishops and Regu- lars, July 20, 1731, which Clement XIII., Our predeces- sor, confirmed by Apostolic Letters Nuper pro parte, Au- gust 26, the same year. The rule and boundary of the cloister are those which are laid down in another decree issued with the approbation of Pius VI. by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, August 24, 1780. For the rest, the rehgious who labor in the Phihppines must remember to treat with great reverence and honor those whom the Holy Ghost hath placed to rule the Church of God: and bound together with the secular clergy by the closest ties of concord and charity, let them hold nothing more pressing than to work hand in hand, thro^vdng all their energy into the work of the ministry and the building up of the body of Christ. Furthermore, to remove every element of dissension, We wish that in future in the PhiUppine Islands the constitution Formmi- dis of Benedict XII., dated November 6, 1744, and the other Romanos Pontifices, May 8, 1881, in which We de- cided certain points in dispute between the bishops and missionary regulars in England and Scotland, be observed.

The bishops will determine what parishes are to be en-


552 THE CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES.

trusted to pastors from the religious orders after con- ferring with the superiors of these orders. Should any question arise in this matter which cannot be settled pri- vately, the case is to be referred to the Delegate Apostolic.

To the other means, by which the Church as teacher provides that faith and good morals and all that makes for the salvation of souls should suffer no harm, must be added one of the very greatest utility, the spiritual exer- cises commonly known as missions. It is altogether de- sirable, therefore, that in each province at least one house be founded, as a dwelling for about eight rehgious men, whose one duty it will be to visit occasionally the towns and villages and better the people by pious exhortations. If this is so useful for the faithful, it is surely necessary for those who have not yet received the light of the Gos- pel. Wherever, therefore, uncivilized peoples are still buried in monstrous idolatry, the bishops and priests must know that they are bound to try to convert them. Let them, therefore, establish stations among them for priests who will act as their apostles, and not only lead the idol- aters to Christian practices, but also devote themselves to the instruction of the children. These stations are to be so located that in due time they may be made Prefectures or Vicariates Apostolic. To provide those who labor in them with means for support and for the propagation of the faith, We recommend that in each diocese, without interfering with the Lyons Society for the Propagation of the Faith, special congregations of men and women be formed to manage the collection of the alms of the faithful and hand over the contributions to the bishops, to be distributed entirely and equally to the missions.

To win the esteem of the faithful there is no better way than for the clergy to do in effect what as priests they preach. For, since, as the Council of Trent says, they are regarded as removed above worldly things to a higher plane, others lift their eyes to them for a model and imi- tate what they get from them. Wherefore it is highly


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proper that priests should so regulate all their manners that in their dress, carriage, walk, conversation, and in all things they may appear grave, moderate and altogether religious; they should avoid even lighter faults, which in them are serious, so that all their actions may inspire veneration. It is for this restoration of ecclesiastical discipline and for the full execution of this Constitution We have sent our Venerable Brother John Baptist Guidi, Archbishop of Stauropolis, as Extraordinary Delegate Apostolic to the Philippine Islands, carrying thither Our person. On him We have conferred all necessary facul- ties ; and We have given him besides Our mandate to con- vene and hold a provincial Synod, as soon as circum- stances permit.

It remains for Us now only to address Ourselves with paternal charity to all the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, and to exhort them with all the persuasion in Our power to maintain union in the bonds of peace. This the duty of our Christian profession requires: "For greater is the brotherhood in Christ, than of blood : for the brotherhood of blood means only a likeness of body, but brotherhood in Christ is unanimity in heart and in soul, as it is written in Acts iv. 32, ' and the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul.'" This, too, is required for the good of religion, which is the chief source and ground of the praiseworthy things which have distinguished the Philippine peoples in the past. This, finally, is required by a sincere love of country, which will derive nothing but loss and destruction from pubhc disturbances. Let them reverence those who exercise authority, according to the Apostle, "for all power is from God." And although separated from Us by the broad expanse of ocean, let them know that they are one in faith with the Apos- tolic See, which embraces them with special affection and will never abandon its charge of protecting their interests.

[Here follow the usual affirmation of the validity of this Constitution, and the penalties for disobeying and opposing it.]