Church as legitimate prey
by Rev. Fr. Roman C. Sagun, Jr.

The Bishop of Jaro did not mince his words writing in 1904 to the President of the United States:

As nearly as I can calculate, in this diocese alone, nearly one hundred and fifty parcels of property have been taken from the Catholic Church and are used to aid in setting up and propagating this new so-called religion.

The value of this property would reach, perhaps, a million and a half of dollars. The government at Manila never, from the beginning, took an effective step to prevent or stop such robbery. Now the only redress they offer me is to take each individual case to the courts.

In the first place, with the enormous dockets which exist in the courts and with the technical tricks which opposing lawyers can play, it would take, in this country where communications are so frightfully bad, at least half a century to reclaim this property.

In the second place, it would cost a hundred and fifty thousand dollars at least, and this diocese has been stripped of all its resources and I am actually too poor to attempt to defend or assert my rights in court.

In the third place, the judges in some of the provinces are natives and member of the Federal party and sympathizers with the ‘independent’ movement, and no confidence can be placed in them.

What I claim is this:-In nearly every instance in this diocese where property has been taken from the Catholic Church, it has been taken by the municipal authorities and is either held for their own uses or has been turned over by them to the Independents.

Now, the municipal authority is a mere part and parcel of the executive branch of the government here, and the injustice having been done by its dependencies the central government can and ought to rectify it by ordering the restitution of all Church property at once and forbidding its being touched in the future except by process of law and proving in court that it belongs to the municipality and not to the Church.

I cannot understand by what principle of law or justice, or by what custom of the United States the property of the Church is made the legitimate prey of any one who can get political influence enough to back him in taking it.

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