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THE SECULARIZATION CONTROVERSY
Two kinds of priests served the Catholic Church in the Philippines. These were the
regulars and the seculars. Regular priests belonged to religious orders. Their main task
was to spread Christianity. Examples were the Franciscans, Recollects, Dominicans,
and Augustinians. Secular priests do not belong to religious order. They were trained
specifically to run the parishes and were under the supervision of the bishops. Conflict
began when the bishops insisted on visiting the parishes that were the being run by
regular priests. It was their duty they argued to, to check on the administration of these
parishes. But the regular priests refused these visits, saying that they were not under
the bishop’s jurisdiction. They threatened to abandon their parishes if the bishops
persisted. In 1774, Archbishop Basilio Santa Justa decided to uphold the diocese’s
authority over the parishes and accepted the resignations of the regular priests. He
assigned secular priests to take their place. Since there were not enough seculars to fill
all the vacancies the archbishop hastened the ordination of Filipino seculars. A royal
decree was also issued on November 9, 1774, which provided for the secularization of
all parishes or the transfer of parochial administration from the regular friars to the
secular priests. The regular priests resented the move because they considered the
Filipinos unfit for the priesthood. Among other reasons they cited the Filipinos’ brown
skin, lack education, and inadequate experience. The issue soon took on a racial slant.
The Spaniards were clearly favoring their own regular priest over Filipino priests. The
secularization policy of 1774 was overturned in 1826 by the Spanish government,
although the Vatican discouraged the permanence of a religious order in governing a
parish. The Vatican’s or the Pope’s control of the Catholic ministers in the Philippines
was not absolute. Decisions coming from the Pope still have to pass approval from the
Spanish government. More often than not, the religious orders in the Philippines use
their influence with the government to thwart the wishes of the Vatican. Religious rule of
the regulars, then, continue to be paramount. By this time a number of Filipino priests
were becoming conscious of their rights and were now becoming active and united in
defending them. From among them, there arose a leader, a Filipino priest, Father Pedro
Pelaez (from Pagsanjan, Laguna). But his untimely death in 1863, during an earthquake
in Manila, deprived the secularization movement of a wily, respected and influential
leader. And then forward came Father Jose Burgos, regarded as the protégé of Pelaez.
Both of them were passionate in establishing the rights of the seculars. For Pelaez, the
more important issue was the rights of the secular clergy being violated by the friars.
This was also true for Burgos. Burgos was now evolving into a religious nationalist. The
agitation for secularization precipitated the execution of Father Gomes, Burgos, and
Zamora, which in turn engendered the seed of discontent among the Filipino reformists,
which in turn fanned the flame of Philippine revolution. But few knew the real reason for
the move to secularize, much less where and why it came to be.
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Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious
values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions. The
secularization thesis refers to the belief that as society progress, particularly through
modernization and rationalization, religion loses its authority in all aspects of social life
and governance. The term secularization is also used in the context of the lifting of the
monastic restrictions from the clergy. Secularization refers to the historical progress in
which religion loses social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization, the
role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted. In secularized societies faith
lacks cultural authority, and religious organizations have little social power. Secularists
are not against the right of individual to have a religious faith. What they oppose is
special treatment for religious beliefs and organizations” BBC ‘Secularism’ (2009).
Secularism does not reject or deny religion. In fact, it makes it possible for all religions
to be recognized and respected by keeping religion out of public affairs. It has been
erroneously aligned with godlessness by the religious extremist whose intent has
always been to erode the barrier between church and state. Many people who
participate in various religions are also secularists.

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THE SECULARIZATION CONTROVERSY Two kinds of priests served the Catholic Church in the Philippines. These were the regulars and the seculars. Regular priests belonged to religious orders. Their main task was to spread Christianity. Examples were the Franciscans, Recollects, Dominicans, and Augustinians. Secular priests do not belong to religious order. They were trained specifically to run the parishes and were under the supervision of the bishops. Conflict began when the bishops insisted on visiting the parishes that were the being run by regular priests. It was their duty they argued to, to check on the administration of these parishes. But the regular priests refused these visits, saying that they were not under the bishop’s jurisdiction. They threatened to abandon their parishes if the bishops persisted. In 1774, Archbishop Basilio Santa Justa decided to uphold the diocese’s authority over the parishes and accepted the resignations of the regular priests. He assigned secular priests to take their place. Since there were not enough seculars to fill all the vacancies the archbishop hastened the ordination of Filipino seculars. A royal decree was also issued on November 9, 1774, which provided for the secularization of all parishes or the transfer of parochial administration from the regular friars to the secular priests. The regular priests resented the move because they considered the Filipinos unfit for the priesthood. Among other reasons they cited the Filipinos’ brown skin, lack education, and inadequate experience. The issue soon took on a racial slant. The Spaniards were clearly favoring their own regular priest over Filipino priests. The secularization policy of 1774 was overturned in 1826 by the Spanish government, although the Vatican discouraged the permanence of a religious order in governing a parish. The Vatican’s or the Pope’s control of the Catholic ministers in the Philippines was not absolute. Decisions coming from the Pope still have to pass approval from the Spanish government. More often than not, the religious orders in the Philippines use their influence with the government to thwart the wishes of the Vatican. Religious rule of the regulars, then, continue to be paramount. By this time a number of Filipino priests were becoming conscious of their rights and were now becoming active and united in defending them. From among them, there arose a leader, a Filipino priest, Father Pedro Pelaez (from Pagsanjan, Laguna). But his untimely death in 1863, during an earthquake in Manila, deprived the secularization movement of a wily, respected and influential leader. And then forward came Father Jose Burgos, regarded as the protégé of Pelaez. Both of them were passionate in establishing the rights of the seculars. For Pelaez, the more important issue was the rights of the secular clergy being violated by the friars. This was also true for Burgos. Burgos was now evolving into a religious nationalist. The agitation for secularization precipitated the execution of Father Gomes, Burgos, and Zamora, which in turn engendered the seed of discontent among the Filipino reformists, which in turn fanned the flame of Philippine revolution. But few knew the real reason for the move to secularize, much less where and why it came to be. Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions. The secularization thesis refers to the belief that as society progress, particularly through modernization and rationalization, religion loses its authority in all aspects of social life and governance. The term secularization is also used in the context of the lifting of the monastic restrictions from the clergy. Secularization refers to the historical progress in which religion loses social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization, the role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted. In secularized societies faith lacks cultural authority, and religious organizations have little social power.” Secularists are not against the right of individual to have a religious faith. What they oppose is special treatment for religious beliefs and organizations” BBC ‘Secularism’ (2009). Secularism does not reject or deny religion. In fact, it makes it possible for all religions to be recognized and respected by keeping religion out of public affairs. It has been erroneously aligned with godlessness by the religious extremist whose intent has always been to erode the barrier between church and state. Many people who participate in various religions are also secularists. Name: Description: ...
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