The local Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (or the Aglipayan Church) are reportedly engaged in unification talks, after going their separate ways in 1902.
According to sources, this was the underlying theme of a joint communique issued last week entitled: “Celebrating the Gift of Faith, Learning from the Past and Journeying Together.”
The document was signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP); Archbishop Angelito Lampon, chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs; and Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Mutual Relations.
Signing for the IFI were Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang; The Right Reverend Delfin Callao Jr. of the Commission on Ecumenical Relations and International Affairs; and The Right Reverend Vicente Salvador Ballesteros, Bishop of Greater Manila.
The signing was held at the IFI’s National Cathedral in Manila to mark its 119th founding anniversary.
The IFI was founded in 1902 by Fr. Gregorio Aglipay and Isabelo de los Reyes when they broke away from the Catholic Church over the resentment of the Filipino clergy for the domination of Spanish bishops and priests, and the continuation of the nationalist struggle for recognition which was symbolized by the Gomburza executions.
“Filipino nationalism which grew out of the earlier struggle of the Filipino secular clergy for recognition and from the struggle for social justice is a common legacy of both churches,” the CBCP and IFI officials said during the historic signing of the document, vowing to explore all avenues for the possible reunification of the two groups.
They also encouraged their respective devotees to engage in joint prayer services during the Lenten season as well as important feast days, especially Easter Sunday.