Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines

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The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP; Filipino:Kapulungan ng mga Katólikong Obispo ng Pilipinas; Cebuano: Hugpong sa mga Obispo nga Katoliko sa Pilipinas; Hiligaynon: Komperensya sang mga Obispo Katoliko sang Pilipinas; Ilokano: Kumperensya ti Obispo nga Katoliko ti Filipinas) is the permanent organizational assembly of the Catholic bishops of the Philippines exercising together certain pastoral offices for the Christian faithful of their territory through apostolic plans, programs and projects suited to the circumstances of time and place in accordance with law for the promotion of the greater good offered by the Church to all people.

Standing as the national episcopal conference in the Philippines, it consists 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. It has 82 active and 43 honorary bishops. The chancery is centrally located within the Intramuros district, located just behind the Manila Cathedral.

Davao archbishop Most Rev. Romulo G. Valles DD is the current president since December 2017.


The origins of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines may be traced to as far back as 15 February 1945 when the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Guglielmo Piani, even as the war was raging, created the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO), with its central office at a remodeled coop at the University of Santo Tomas internment camp. (Eventually, the office was moved to the following addresses in succession: La Consolación College at 260 San Rafael St., Manila, in the same year; 1500 Taft Avenue in 1953; 2472 Taft Avenue in 1955; 2655 F.B. Harrison in 1974; 372 Cabildo St.; and, finally, 470 General Luna St, Intramuros, in 1983.)

Obviously with the National Catholic Welfare Council (NCWC) of the bishops of the United States as his inspiration and model, Msgr. Piani's major objective was “to meet the war emergency created by the destruction of so many towns.” Manila, for example, was the scene of the most destructive land battles in the country. As Gen. Dwight Eisenhower remarked, with the exception of Warsaw (Poland), “this is the worst destruction I have ever seen.” Seeing the need of a coordinated effort to aid the stricken populace, Msgr. Piani presented the services of the CWO to General Douglas MacArthur, and the offer was accepted. In charge of the relief work was the Rev. John Hurley, S.J.

Its first personnel included lay men and women as well as clerics. During and after the battle of Manila, it sheltered around 10,000 half-naked and starving refugees, acted as important outlet of the PCAU (Philippine Civil Affairs Unit) foodstuff, and sent out burial squads to bury countless corpses.

In the first five months of its existence, it distributed food, medicine, clothing, and other relief goods valued at 906,030. On 17 July 1945, all the bishops met in Manila for their first meeting after the Japanese Occupation, and three days after, Msgr. Piani granted their request to place in their hands the direction of the CWO and make it the official organization of the Hierarchy of the Philippines.

After the Apostolic Delegate received from the Holy See the proposal and directive to incorporate the CWO, the articles of incorporation were duly registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission in Manila, on 23 January 1946, with 18 incorporators. As stated in the Articles of Incorporation, the purpose of the CWO was “to unify, coordinate, and organize the Catholic people of the Philippines in works of education, social welfare, religious and spiritual aid and other activities.”

The Board of Directors was composed of Bishops Gabriel Reyes (Cebu), chairman; Constancio Jurgens (Tuguegarao), Mariano Madriaga (Lingayen), Santiago Sancho (Nueva Segovia) and Alfredo Verzosa (Lipa), members. A few years later, a new constitution was approved by the Sacred Consistorial Congregation on 28 June 1952 and took effect on 30 June 1953. Such were the beginnings of the CWO.

It was a welfare organization which had no juridical status in the Church. It was financed through regular quota subscription from all the bishops, and partly from the shipping service and, until 1948, the War Relief Services (WRS; renamed Catholic Relief Services [CRS] in 1955). Later on, the quota subscription was made on the basis of the Catholic population in each diocese.


As provided in its Constitution, the purposes of this episcopal conference is 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.

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.

Plenary Assembly

Bishops are 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.

Permanent Council

Bishops convene 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 all the bishops.

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.


As of 2017, the episcopal conference has 82 active member cardinals, archbishops and bishops as well as 43 honorary members. The Philippines has 16 archdioceses, 51 dioceses, 7 apostolic vicariates, 5 territorial prelatures and a military ordinariate.

List of Presidents

Name Diocese Tenure
Start End
Gabriel Reyes Archdiocese of Cebu January 1, 1945 December 31, 1949
Archdiocese of Manila January 1, 1950 December 31, 1952
Rufino Santos Archdiocese of Manila January 1, 1953 December 31, 1956
Juan Sison Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia January 1, 1957 December 31, 1960
Julio Rosales Archdiocese of Cebu January 1, 1961 December 31, 1965
Lino Gonzaga Diocese of Palo January 1, 1966 December 31, 1969
Teopisto Alberto Archdiocese of Caceres January 1, 1970 December 31, 1973
Julio Cardinal Rosales Archdiocese of Cebu January 1, 1974 November 30, 1977
Jaime Cardinal Sin Archdiocese of Manila December 1, 1977 November 30, 1981
Antonio Mabutas Archdiocese of Davao December 1, 1981 November 30, 1984
Ricardo Cardinal Vidal Archdiocese of Cebu December 1, 1985 November 30, 1987
Leonardo Legaspi, OP Archdiocese of Caceres December 1, 1987 November 30, 1991
Carmelo Morelos Archdiocese of Zamboanga December 1, 1991 November 30, 1995
Oscar Cruz Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan December 1, 1995 November 30, 1999
Orlando Quevedo, OMI Archdiocese of Cotabato December 1, 1999 November 30, 2003
Fernando Capalla Archdiocese of Davao December 1, 2003 November 30, 2005
Angel Lagdameo Archdiocese of Jaro December 1, 2005 November 30, 2009
Nereo Odchimar Diocese of Tandag December 1, 2009 November 30, 2011
José S. Palma Archdiocese of Cebu December 1, 2011 November 30, 2013
Socrates Villegas Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan December 1, 2013 November 30, 2017
Romulo Valles Archdiocese of Davao December 1, 2017


  • Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. "Preamble". Manila. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  • Code of Canon Law. 1983.
  • Second Vatican Council (October 28, 1965). Christus Dominus. 38.
  • John Paul II (May 21, 1998). "Motu Proprio Apostolos Suos". 14.
  • Microsoft Word - BISHOPS DIRECTORY - 2017.doc (PDF) (Report). November 29, 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  • "Beginnings". Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  • "Plenary". Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  • "Permanent Council". Retrieved 2016-07-07.

External links