Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Philippine Bullary II

[UPDATE (07.05.2016): Text of the bull Super specula militantis Ecclesiae now included.]

The Church in the Philippine Islands, established and propagated by missionaries of bygone ages, remained effectively acephalous for many years since its inception, owing to the distance between the Islands and the Archdiocese of Mexico, under whose jurisdiction the Islands belonged, until Pope Gregory XIII issued the bull Illius fulti praesidio on 6 February 1579, establishing Manila as a diocese, suffragan to Mexico.

In 1594, the first bishop of Manila, Fray Domingo de Salazar, a Dominican, travelled to Spain (in order to defend himself before the King, Felipe II, against the intrigues circulated by his detractors in the Islands, including, unfortunately, friars of other religious orders), and, on having been granted an audience with the King, broached the idea of dividing his diocese into one archdiocese and three suffragan dioceses.

The King indicated agreement to the bishop’s suggestion, but death would overcome Fray Domingo on 14 December 1594. On 17 June 1595, the King issued a royal decree (cédula real) instructing his ambassador in Rome to present to the Supreme Pontiff the wishes of the deceased bishop of Manila, as enacted by the Cortés. In this decree, the King indicated his wish to determine the boundaries of the new dioceses.

Pope Clement VIII responded to the request of the Spanish Crown with four bulls dated 14 August 1595, all one bearing the incipit Super universas orbis ecclesias (for Manila), three bearing the incipit Super specula speculam militantis Ecclesiae (for Cebú, Nueva Segovia, and Nueva Cáceres). Four royal decrees, dated 14 August 1595, were immediately issued in Spain, outlining the administration of the dioceses. Pope Clement denied the King’s request to determine the limits of the dioceses, and relegated this right to the Apostolic nuncio. The King could only reiterate in the four decrees that the royal patronage (patronato real) had not been abrogated, and the force of which had not been nullified.

The royal decree intended for the Villa del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús (originally, the Villa de San Miguel Arcángel) in the island of Cebú thus decreed that its church be raised into the rank and dignity of a cathedral, under the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angels. As mentioned here, we do not have the original full text of the bulls—only the Spanish translation of the bull intended for Lallo in Cagayán. As before, we reproduce the putative prooemium of the bull.

[Note: We have now found the text of the bull for Cebú, which we reproduce below, with our translation into English.]

The rubric is enclosed in parentheses to signify that it is simply a placeholder of an undiscovered original.


Upon its creation up to the present, the Diocese of Cebu is the largest in the entire archipelago, once encompassing the Marianas Islands, one of which is Guam, where the protosaint of the diocese was martyred. Fray Pedro de Agurto, from the Order of Saint Augustine, which pioneered the evangelisation of the Philippines, became the first bishop of Cebú. For the next three centuries, the succeeding bishops would initiate the construction of a cathedral or a reconstruction of an earlier attempt, but to no avail.

The cathedral would only be consecrated under the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angels in 1815 by its 14th bishop, Fray Joaquín Encabo de la Virgen de Sopetrán, an Augustinian Recollect. On 7 December 1891, the last Spanish archbishop of Cebú, Fray Martín García y Alcocer, a Franciscan, would bless the cornerstone of the new structure, in the seventh and final attempt of the long line of ordinaries to construct a cathedral. The Revolution would overtake it, and the construction would only be completed in the beginning of the reign of the 21st bishop, simultaneously the first Filipino bishop, of Cebú, Don Juan Bautista Gorordo.

Three centuries later, seven attempts to construct a cathedral, and four subdivisions (Diocese of Jaro on 27 May 1865, the Prefecture Apostolic of the Marianas on 17 September 1902, and the Dioceses of Calbayog and Zamboanga on 10 April 1910), the diocese would be elevated to the rank and dignity of an archdiocese, with Pope Pius XI issuing the bull Romanorum Pontificum on 28 April 1934, granting on it metropolitan status, with the suffragan sees of Calbayog, Jaro, Zamboanga, Bacolod, and Cagayán. Its 22nd bishop, and simultaneously, second Filipino bishop, Msgr. Gabriel Reyes, became the first archbishop of Cebú.



The sees of Jaro, Zamboanga, and Cagayán would subsequently be raised to metropolitan status, and the sees of Calbayog and Bacolod transferred to other metropolitan jurisdictions. Currently, the circumscription of the Ecclesiastic Province of Cebú, the largest in the Philippines, encompasses the suffragan dioceses of Dumaguete, Maasin, Tagbilaran, and Talibon.


Diocese of Tagbilaran
The Diocese of Tagbilaran was created on 8 November 1941, when Pope Pius XII issued the bull In sublimi Petri cathedra.



Diocese of Dumaguete
The Diocese of Dumaguete was created on 5 April 1955, when Pope Pius XII issued the bull Sanctissima ea verba.




Diocese of Maasin
The Diocese of Maasin was created on 23 March 1968, when Pope Paul VI issued the bull Dei Filium adorandum.




Diocese of Talibón
The Diocese of Talibón was created on 9 January 1986, when Pope John Paul II issued the bull Apostolica Sedes.




The bulls issued in the 20th century were taken from the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. The prooemium for the putative bull for Cebú was taken from the bull of the same formulation sent out on 20 May 1597 to the Kingdom of Congo and Angola to establish the Diocese of the Most Holy Saviour.

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