Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines

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CBCP office in Intramuros, Manila
Map of the Philippines showing the different ecclesiastical provinces
Map of the Philippines showing the different apostolic vicariates

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) (Filipino: Kapulungan ng mga Katolikong Obispo ng Pilipinas, Cebuano: Hugpong sa mga Obispo nga Katoliko sa Pilipinas, Hiligaynon: Komperensya sang mga Obispo nga Katoliko sang Pilipinas, Ilokano: Kumperensya ti Obispo nga Katoliko ti Pilipinas) is the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, and as such is the official organization of the Catholic episcopacy and what is commonly referred to as the Philippine Catholic. The CBCP is made up of 99 active and 32 honorary bishops and other members.[1] Its main office building is centrally located within the Intramuros district, located just behind the Manila Cathedral. Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan is the current president while Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao is the current Vice President.[2]

History[edit]

On February 15, 1945 the Rev. William Piani, D.D., apostolic delegate to the Philippines, created the Catholic Welfare Organization to address the country's needs following World War II. On July 19, the CWO became the official organization of the hierarchy of the Philippines, with the Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu, as Chairman. It had 17 members and incorporated on January 22, 1946 with the purpose to unify, coordinate and organize Filipino Catholics to work together on education, social welfare, religious and spiritual issues under the direction of the Filipino bishops. The Holy See approved the Constitution on June 28, 1952.

After Vatican II, the CWO began a series of changes, becoming the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on January 31, 1968. In 1972, the bishops updated its structure, which was approved by the Pope Paul VI on May 21, 1973. Finally, in January 23, 1988, a revised Constitution was approved by the Holy See.

According to this document, the purpose of the Conference is to promote solidarity in the Philippine Church, formulate joint pastoral policies and programs, engage the Philippine Church, formulate joint pastoral policies and programs, engage the Philippine Church as abide in the pastoral thrusts of the universal Church, assume the responsibilities as evangelizer in relation to all the people and with the civil authority in particular and to foster relations with other Episcopal Conferences.

Controversy[edit]

The CBCP was embroiled in a controversy over millions of pesos in donations from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office at the behest of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.[3] Critics claim the money was given to ensure Church support for Arroyo, who was then buffeted by scandals and repeated threats of impeachment.

(Pajero Bishop Scandal) Filipinos protest against the Bishops that allegedly accepted money and luxury cars from former president Macapagal-Arroyo in exchange for support

The critics claim the donations led the bishops to take a softer stance on the Arroyo administration despite the many corruption and electoral scandals that rocked it.

CBCP Plenary Assembly[edit]

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is the official organization of the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines. As the national Episcopal Conference, it counts as its members all diocesan bishops and those equivalent to bishops in church law; all coadjutor and auxiliary bishops; and all other titular bishops who exercise for the entire nation a special office assigned to them by the Apostolic See or by the Episcopal Conference itself.

As provided in its Constitution, the purposes of the CBCP are to promote solidarity in the Philippine Church; to engage the Philippine Church actively in the thrusts of the universal Church; to assume the responsibilities as evangelizer in relation to all the people, and in particular to civil authority; and to foster relations with other Episcopal Conferences.

The members of the CBCP gathered as a body in pursuit of its objectives constitute the Plenary Assembly, which is the highest decision-making body of the Conference.

It is the Plenary Assembly which elects through direct vote the officers of the Conference, composed of the following: President, Vice-President, Secretary General and Treasurer. It is likewise the Plenary Assembly which elects the members of the Permanent Council, the Chairmen of the Episcopal Commissions and the heads of the agencies attached to the Conference.

The Plenary Assembly meets in regular session twice a year: in January and in July. When the Plenary Assembly is not in session, the Permanent Council acts for and in behalf of the Conference.

The Permanent Council is composed of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and ten regional representatives (five for Luzon, two for Visayas and three for Mindanao).

The President of the CBCP serves for a term of two years, and is limited to only two consecutive terms. The members of the Permanent Council, on the other hand, have a term of two years but are allowed a cumulative number of up to four terms. They may not, however, serve for more than two consecutive terms in succession.

CBCP Permanent Council[edit]

The members of the CBCP are convened as a Plenary Assembly on a regular basis only twice a year. When the Plenary Assembly is not in session, it is the Permanent Council which acts for and in behalf of the entire Conference.

The Permanent Council, composed of ten elected members representing the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions, acts in accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the CBCP, and the policies and standing decisions of the Plenary Assembly.

The Council may be convened by the President at any time for the discharge of its regular functions or for special purposes. However, when the Council cannot have a quorum, the members present, together with other CBCP members available, may also act for and in behalf of the Conference.

The Permanent Council's regular functions include ensuring that the decisions made during the Plenary Assembly are properly executed and directing the activities of the Office and other agencies of the Conference. It is also tasked to prepare the agenda for the meetings of the Plenary Assembly and examine and approve the Conference's annual budget, prior to submission and final approval of the Plenary Assembly.

A crucial function of the Permanent Council is to prepare the Joint Statements or Pastoral Letters of the Hierarchy on subject matters decided on by the Plenary Assembly, and see to it that copies are sent to the members for comment and/or approval before they are officially released.

The Council is likewise mandated to work with the Episcopal Commissions and assign to them functions of urgent character which may not have been taken up in the Plenary Assembly and which may not be provided for in the Constitution. It also has the power to set up temporary agencies for some particular inquiry or for some limited sphere of actions.

Commissions and Departments of CBCP[edit]

The CBCP is divided into various commissions and departments charged to handle the affairs of the episcopal conference.

Department of Doctrine and Religious Affairs[edit]

Department of Clergy Formation[edit]

Department of Lay Formation[edit]

Department of Social Services and Communications[edit]

Department of External Affairs[edit]

Other CBCP Committees and Offices[edit]

Membership[edit]

As of 1995, the CBCP has 95 active member cardinals, archbishops and bishops as well as 24 honorary members.

The Philippines has 16 archdioceses, 51 dioceses, 7 apostolic vicariates, 5 territorial prelatures and one military ordinariate.

Leadership[edit]

The CBCP, considered as an influential body in Philippine politics and society in general, has been headed by some of the country's prominent Catholic prelates. It has issued strong pastoral statements against the dictatorship of the late Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, leading to the so-called EDSA Revolution which installed Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. It also played a prominent role in the second EDSA Revolution which removed Joseph Ejercito-Estrada, to be replaced by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001. Cardinal Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin played a prominent role in all of these political events in the Philippines.

On January 22, 2006, it released in what it considered as its strongest statement on the state of Philippine politics. The statement urged the resolution of issues that hound the legitimacy of the election of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president in the 2004 national elections. Some active member bishops of the CBCP are also currently involved in mass actions that call for the resignation of Arroyo.

The CBCP expressed dismay (July 6, 2007) over the conduct of the May 14, 2007, midterm elections, saying "the challenge of credible, honest, meaningful and peaceful polls remains". CBCP president Lagdameo lamented that “vote-buying and other anomalies have already become systematic and even cultural.” He stressed that election watchdogs, including the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), noted that the problem no longer lies in the voters but the voting system itself and the irresponsibility of some election officials. PPCRV chairman Henrietta de Villa told the bishops that last May’s elections merely repeated the unresolved poll fraud issues in the 2004 race between Arroyo and the late Fernando Poe Jr. Lagdameo promised that they would come up with a full assessment of the conduct of the May 14 midterm elections at the conclusion of the assembly (July 9). The CBCP is also expected to discuss other pertinent issues, including extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists as well as the implementation of the new Anti-Terror Law.[4]

Lagdameo asked the government to review the controversial anti-terror law, fearing it could be abused. The CBCP warned that the Human Security Act may be used by authorities to quell popular dissent against the government of Mrs. Arroyo.[5] The CBCP, in a press conference, further called for a change of leadership at the Commission on Elections as it noted the "continuing dominance" of political dynasties, dagdag-bawas, and poll violence. Demanding "full revamp of the Comelec", it sought for the appointment of people with "unquestioned integrity and competence, especially in systems and management" to succeed Chair Abalos and the five other members. There should also be "serious efforts to de-politicize and professionalize the bureaucracy," the CBCP said in a two-page pastoral statement read by its president Angel Lagdameo. Its call came after the vote of the 85-bishop CBCP during their two-day plenary assembly.[6] Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento urged the early nomination process (which must be transparent and should involved the electorate) for the four poll commissioners. The terms of office of Chair Abalos and Commissioners Tuason and Borra would end in February next year, with an existing vacancy at the Comelec.[7]

On December 17, 2007, in a statement on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website, Pampanga archbishop Paciano Aniceto stated that Pope Benedict XVI assured Filipinos that God and the Church are still with them – in his encyclical "Spe Salvi facti sumus (In hope we are saved)."[8] Also, Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo was appointed the new chair of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action and Peace and the National Action for Social Justice and Peace (Nassa), the CBCP's social arm, replacing Marbel bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez.[9]

On January 7, 2008, Bishop Leonardo Medroso, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Canon Law and bishop of Tagbilaran diocese, Bohol, issued the appeal to priests to stay away from politics, ahead of the May 2010 elections. He cited Code of Canon Law, prohibition, Canon 285, which forbids all clerics from entering politics and that priests "cannot have an active role in political parties unless the need to protect the rights of the Church or to promote the common good." Three priests—Msgr. Crisanto de la Cruz, Fr. Ronilo Maat Omanio and Fr. Ed Panlilio—who ran in the last elections were suspended from their pastoral duties as a result of their entry into the political arena. Only Panlilio won.[10]

On January 19, 2008, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (quoting from a letter of Vatican Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone) announced that Pope Benedict XVI "praised the courage of, and was saddened over the brutal and tragic killing of Fr. Reynaldo Roda in his ministry as head of Notre Dame School." The Pope wrote Jolo Bishop Angelito Lampon: "calls upon the perpetrators to renounce the ways of violence and to play their part in building a just and peaceful society, where all can live together in harmony."[11]

Church insiders reported that the CBCP was still ruled by conservatives, amid renewed calls for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation. Bishops therefore, failed to join these clamors, since the President "continues to wield influence over a good number of CBCP members".[12]

"Bible Animé" project[edit]

On January 21, 2008, the CBCP, led by Fr. Oscar Alunday, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA), launched the "Bible Animé" project. Through the aid of PBS, and Enzima International Inc., Bible anime and Sunday readings can be accessed via cellular phones per multimedia messaging service (MMS). By typing "BIBLIYA ON" and sending it to 286, at 5 pesos per download, it is only available to Smart users. The Philippine Bible Society's (PBS) 2006 survey showed that 60% of Filipinos do not read or own a Bible. In 2007, PBS created the e-Bible, which is translated it in seven Philippine languages (Tagalog, Cebuano, Bicol, Pangasinan, Pampango, Samarenyo and Hiligaynon).[13][14]

List of CBCP Presidents[edit]

Listed below are the elected presidents of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines since 1958:

References[edit]

External links[edit]