Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
The beginnings of the CBCP may be traced back to February 15, 1945 when the Most Rev. William Piani, D.D., apostolic delegate to the Philippines, created the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO), to meet the war emergency. In July 19 of the same year, 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. Incorporated in January 22, 1946, its purpose was to unify, coordinate and organize the Filipino Catholics in the works of education, social welfare, religious and spiritual aid under the direction of the Filipino bishops. The Holy See approved the Constitution on June 28, 1952.
In line with the Vatican II developments, the CWO became the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on January 31, 1968. Its purpose was to study, promote and coordinate in a way corresponding ever more closely to the needs of the present time, the Church apostolate in the country. In 1972, the bishops updated its structure, and the changes were given recognition by the Pope Paul VI in May 21, 1973. Finally, in January 23, 1988, a revised Constitution was approved by the Holy See.
CBCP Plenary Assembly
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 them in 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 purpose of the Conference is to promote solidarity in 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.
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
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.
- Bp. Carlito J. Cenzon, CICM
- Abp. Paciano B. Aniceto
- Bp. Gabriel V. Reyes
- Bp. Antonio P. Palang
- Bp. Manolo A. de los Santos
- Bp. John F. Du
- Bp. Vicente M. Navarra
- Bp. Nereo P. Odchimar
- Bp. Angelito R. Lampon, OMI
Acting Sec. General: Rev. Fr. Juanito S. Figura
Treasurer: Bp. Honesto F. Ongtioco
Commissions and Departments of CBCP
The CBCP is divided into various commissions and departments charged to handle the affairs of the episcopal conference.
Department of Doctrine and Religious Affairs
- Commission on Doctrine of the Faith
- Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education
- Commission on Liturgy
- Commission on Biblical Apostolate
- Commission on Canon Law
- Commission on Ecumenical Affairs
- Commission on Inter-Religious Dialogue
- Commission on Culture
- Commission on Eucharistic Congresses
- Commission on the Cultural Heritage of the Church
- Commission on Bioethics
Department of Clergy Formation
Department of Lay Formation
- Commission on the Laity
- Commission on the Family and Life
- Commission on Youth
- Office on Women
Department of Social Services and Communications
- Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace
- Commission on Social Communications
- Commission on Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People
- Commission on Prison Pastoral Care
- Commission on Indigenous Peoples
- Commission on Health Care
Department of External Affairs
- Permanent Committee on Public Affairs
- Mixed Commission on Mutual Relations between Bishops and the Religious
Other CBCP Committees and Offices
- National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal
- Pension Plan Committee
- Media Office
- Research Office
- Legal Office
The Philippines has 16 archdioceses, 56 dioceses, 7 apostolic vicariates, 5 territorial prelatures and one military ordinariate.
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. The late Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin played a prominent role in all of these political events in the Philippines.
In January 22, 2006, it released in what is 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.