MANILA, April 6, 2014 – A group of Filipino Catholic apologists believes the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) can lead members of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) back to the fold of Roman Catholic Church.
Members of Defensores Fidei Foundation (DFF) agree that the CBCP can act like a big brother and encourage its younger brother to return home to their mother – the Roman Catholic Church, DFF chair Henry Siy said in an interview.
The DFF members, who studied apologetics extensively here and abroad, can see the possibility of Aglipayans returning to their original church if the CBCP will try to win them back, he said.
In fact, Aglipayans sometimes identify themselves with Catholics, Siy said. They are also comfortable in the company of Catholics and sometimes, attend mass in Catholic churches. The Aglipayans are Catholics by heart, he said.
They also hold processions, and consider the Catholic Church as their big church.
He said if a good number of former Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and Protestant Church members have re-embraced the Roman Catholic faith, many Aglipayans would be more than willing to do so as well.
Painting a possible scenario, Siy said if Aglipayan members would return to the Catholic Church, a domino effect may happen, causing Protestants and members of other denominations to follow suit.
Their revolt from the Church has long been over, Siy added. They separated from the Church because Filipino clergymen then were not promoted to bishops.
The bishops at the time were all Spanish. The PIC schism from the Roman Catholic Church, officially proclaimed in 1902 by the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina, was also prompted by alleged cruel treatment of Filipinos by Spanish priests and the execution of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
Its first Supreme Bishop was Gregorio Aglipay, a former Roman Catholic priest, who became a Freemason in May 1918.
Thus, the church was called Aglipayan. Today, Aglipayans have a strong base in Ilocos Region, since Aglipay came from the north, Siy said.
Winning them back can be a long process, but it would be for the good of the church, he said.
The Roman Catholic Church has been around for over 2,000 years, Siy noted. Looking back, it had been alone in the first 1, 500 years.
The DFF’s line of thinking was also inspired by Pope Francis’ call to the ‘separated brethren’ to return to the church. (Oliver Samson)