We, the Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of the Philippines, in fulfillment of our sacred mission “To rule the Church of God, which He has purchased with His blood” (Acts, XX, 28), deem it proper at this juncture of our national life to state the Catholic teachings on nationalism and on some connected matters.
On Nationalism and Filipinism
When God created man He intended him to be a social being. The inclusion of man in society is due to his inability to attain in full all by himself and without the cooperation of others the perfection of his life. Man has certain needs which can only be met by the cooperation of his fellowmen. Dependence upon his fellowman is inescapably necessary for man, since he has needs which he cannot supply in isolation from others and also has powers which he cannot express except in relationship with others. Thus the family is the earliest society required by the very nature of man.
When men work together in a common effort to attain a particular purpose like health, economic prosperity, knowledge, art, etc., they form what is known as an association, a guild, a union, a company or such like. But when men are united in a society which is meant to provide for all the natural needs required by a perfect and complete human life in its earthly existence; when men are forged into a unity by common customs, character, ideologies, language, territory, traditions, history and aspirations, that society, that unity is the nation, the patria, the fatherland, one’s own country, or what before was called the polis , the independent city. In that unity they live together with a view to attaining the natural perfection of each in a common life with the acceptance of a common authority.
Since the nation or the patria is the society men have established to meet the need of attaining in a perfect manner their temporal welfare, the life of that society is in the hands of the men that compose it. Therefore the success or failure of the nation is dependent upon the love which its citizens have towards it and their willlingness to work and sacrifice for its prosperity. That love in all its aspects is patriotism or nationalism. For practical purposes We need not make here the precise distinction between the two concepts.
Nationalism may be said to be patriotism in action. We must love our country, and as a consequence of that love or as an expression of it, we are duty bound to advance the ideal of upholding in every reasonable way the whole complexus of elements, factors and activities encompassed by our fatherland. Patriotism is a virtue which impels every citizens to render to the fatherland love, reverence, honor and service. It is an extension of the virtue of piety which regulates the relations that exist between parents and children. It is a direct consequence of the cardinal virtue of justice, but is also an expression of charity. As St. Thomas teaches, we must love our fatherland and render to it the manifold service that is included in the name of honor.
Love of one’s own country was taught in the Old Testament. The Gospels mention the touching love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards his country and his countrymen. (Matt. XV, 24; Luke XIX, 41-44; XXIII, 28). The teachings of the Church in this regard faithfully reflect the doctrines of St. Peter and St. Paul in their Epistles (I Pet. II, 13-15; Rom. IX, 2-3; XI, 1, 28, 30-31; XIII, 1, 5-6).
From this delineation of the idea of Nationalism we may conclude that Filipinism, which is nationalism for Filipinos, means hard work and generous sacrifice for the welfare of the Philippines in the temporal order, genuine love of Filipino culture in its nobler aspects, sincere appreciation of our historic past, honesty in public as well as in private life, mutual cooperation in common endeavors, scrupulous administration of public affairs, faithful compliance with the laws, unselfish acceptance of the burden of services required by the nation, payment of taxes and sincere love for national symbols and institutions. In regard to preferential rights for Filipinos, sentimental reasons must always be tempered with justice and respect for the natural rights of others. It is obviously wrong that those whose primary political allegiance is to a foreign state should own the patrimony of the nation. Thus we have laws which limit to Filipinos the acquisition of public lands, the development of natural resources, the ownership of public utilities, etc. Still it must be remembered that the “right to live” is a primary right with which every human being has been endowed by the Creator.
But, as in the case of all noble ideas, nationalism can be misused and misrepresented. Whenever it is used to violate the rights of God, of man, of the family or of other nations, it ceases to be true nationalism. Whenever a nationalistic movement propounds that love of one’s own country may disregard the Christian moral standards, when it adopts a hostile attitude toward foreigners just because they are foreigners, when it tries to justify the unjust claims of other nations just because our own might thereby gain some material advantage, then the nationalism it advocates is not genuine.
A systematic oppression of alien residents offends not only against Christian charity, but also against basic justice. Aliens admitted to a country are bound to that country by ties of gratitude, of allegiance, though temporary, and of strict observance of its laws. In return they should be treated by their adopted country with that respect due to human beings possessing human dignity.
Just as the nation is a perfect society in the natural order, in the supernatural order the Church is the perfect society which provides man with the means to reach his supernatural destiny, to attain that eternal salvation for which God created him. Religion, as the primary relation between God and man, and the Catholic Church in particular, as divine in origin, in means, in purpose and in authority, and universal in its mission, is beyond the scope of nationalism. The doctrines and the virtues taught by the Church are without doubt incentives for the practice of true patriotism, but any interference with her work from “nationalistic movements” is a violation of the divinely granted freedom of the Church to pursue in her own way the universal mission assigned to her by her Divine Founder. She will always have the welfare of the Philippines at heart, she will always teach her children to love their country and to respect and obey the properly constituted authorities of the State, she will always oppose all subversive activities which threaten our national life, but her specific Filipinism consists in what she is now doing–the formation of a Filipino clergy that is worthy of the office they hold, that of “ministers of Christ; dispensers of the mysteries of God” (I Cor. IV, 1).
On the “National Progressive Movement”
Recently a so-called National Progressive Movement has been organized. This movement has declared its avowed opposition to the Catholic Church by so stating in the press: “That the Church and sectarian institutions have been employed and are still employed as an instrument of foreign domination of the Filipinos”. (June 20, 1959). By this unjust and false accusation, this movement has allied itself with those enemies of the Church who unscrupulously use distortion of facts and even calumnies to malign her.
The movement’s hostility to the Church can also be clearly seen in these words of one of its high officers: “… Our specific supporters… did not accumulate tremendous fortunes in the name of religion that exalts sacrifice, and requires poverty of its ministers; neither did they, in order to acquire wealth, cruelly and inhumanly exploit the gullible and superstitious fear of the Filipino masses…” (Published in the press, June 6, 1959). This unjust accusation that the Church has accumulated wealth by exploiting her own children, has been time and again hurled against her. By repeating this falsehood in an indirect way, it is clear that the object of the speaker’s wrath is the Church.
In January of this year, We issued a statement in which We made known the official position of the Church on the nationalization of her schools. We made it clear that it cannot be hastened by legislation but must follow the growth of Filipino vocations to the priestly and religious life. By advocating immediate Filipinization of all private schools (The National Manifesto and Res. No. 14, May 24, 1959) the movement has virtually encouraged our people to disregard the official policy of their Church on the matter.
For these reasons and others we urge all Catholics in the country to sever any connection whatsoever with the organization and to refrain from giving it support.
We are one with the Holy See and the Catholic Hierarchy of the whole world in the condemnation of Communism, as a system which deprives man of his rights as a being endowed with human dignity, and which renders him unable to fulfill his fundamental duties and enjoy his fundamental rights as a child of God and as a free citizen of his particular country.
We condemn the physical violence and the moral coercion inflicted upon persons and communities to force them into the structure of the communist atheistic State.
We condemn and solemnly protest against the tyranny and deception by which communism in some countries has forced its way sacrilegiously into the administration of ecclesiastical powers and offices so as to estbalish schism.
We urge our people to follow most strictly the directions of the Holy See and the teachings of their Bishops so as to avoid and shun communism in whatever form it might be presented to them.
In the foregoing we have stated that nationalism is not a mere sentimental attachment to one’s own country. Much more than that, it is an ideal to be translated into our everyday living. For this reason we lay down the following norms of conduct to be followed by the Catholics of our country.
- Catholics should exert every effort to bring about the spiritual and temporal welfare of our country, making sacrifices when such are necessary to promote its progress.
- In the demand for preferential rights in our economy, care must be exercised so as not to commit injustice or violate the natural rights of others.
- Just as Filipino citizens should be taught to bear courageously the burdens that go with citizenship, so alien residents should be taught to bear the burdens that are concommitant with the privilege of residing in this country, and for all, that will mean allegiance to the State and the performance of services required by the nation.
- Preachers and teachers should explain clearly the strict obligation in conscience of observing the laws of the country.
- Our people should be taught to exercise their civic rights with the end in view of promoting the common good.
- Public office is not only a privilege and an honor; it is also a duty which requires the spirit of self-sacrifice, a heart dedicated to the welfare of the community, proven honesty, and mental abilities beyond the ordinary.
- Love and cherish our Christian traditions and culture because they belong to the basic elements of our nationhood. Love and cherish our national symbols. Respect and obey our civil authorities. Put yourselves at the service of every common endeavor which promotes the good of your community.
May God, through the intercession of our Patroness, the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant happiness and prosperity to our country. In the faith and charity of our Lord Jesus Christ may we all learn to love God and the Philippines our Fatherland.
Manila, the 3rd day of December 1959.
For the Hierarchy of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+JUAN C. SISON, D.D.
Coadjutor Archbishop of Nueva Segovia
President, Catholic Welfare Organization
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