Lament of Catholics
by Rev. Fr. Roman C. Sagun, Jr.

Bishop Frederick Z. Rooker would visit Dumaguete for the second time in January 1905 because of the lament of Catholics here:

In fact, nearly every church and convento which has been taken from my diocese and turned over to the Aglipayans – in fact, every one they possess and they number thirty or forty pieces, has been taken since Governor Taft’s circular by some member of the independent outfit simply walking to the guardian of the property and telling him he must give it up.

You will ask how it is possible to accomplish this if the representative of the Catholic Church has possession. It is the boast of the Aglipayans and the lament of the catholics – and I am talking of natives – that Governor’s Taft circular did nothing except teach how the theft might be securely and legally done.

In the first place, it must be remembered that, the Friars having nearly all left, this vast diocese, covering an enormous territory and having some two hundred and ten parishes, has been left with only seventy six priests – as I found it.

That leaves nearly one hundred and forty parishes without resident pastors. These parishes were attended by the neighboring priests and the property left in the custody of a layman of the town.

Now, the process is simple enough when one understands the timid, even cowardly nature of these people, and their extravagant awe in the presence of persons possessing authority. In nearly every instance, indeed in every one, some one belonging to the local civil government becomes the president or a member of the “Committee” of the Independent church.

Then he goes to the custodian of the church property and demands its surrender, and the custodian dares not refuse. Nothing could be simpler, and the government holds that, so long as a club is not used and the custodian is not knocked down and beaten to insensibility, peaceful possession has been acquired and it is all in perfect conformity with Governor Taft’s instruction.

Certainly it is a striking proof that the circular did not protect the property of the Church in the least, since, before its publication not a single piece of Catholic Church property in this diocese was in the hands of the Independents, and during the year following its publication – that is, up to the present moment, they have possessed themselves of some thirty or more pieces. (More next week)

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