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Joint Statement of the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines on the Book "The Pride of the Malay Race"

We, the archbishop and bishops of the Philippines, conscious of our responsibilities before God, before the Church and before the Filipino people, and aware of our obligation to protect the faith of our Catholic youth in the public schools, do hereby make known our definite stand on the question concerning Rafael Palma's book, "The Pride of the Malay Race."  We believe that we would seriously fail in our duty if we did not raise our voice of warning and protest against the attempt by the enemies of the Catholic name to impose on the young people in our public schools the reading of a book written by a well-known anti-Catholic, which is highly offensive to the religious sentiment of over 80 per cent of the population of the Philippines.

We wish to congratulate the Knights of Columbus and personally Justice Manuel Lim for the gallant and courageous fight they have started on their own initiative and practically alone.

But realizing the character and strength of the opposition waged against them, and realizing, further, that their action alone might not bring about the desired results, we have decided to take the matter upon ourselves.  This, we do, particularly because some people who call themselves practical Catholics have joined the opposition even with words which we could never expect from Catholics, cognizant alike of the real issue and necessary attitude of their Faith in such a matter, as well as aware of the real dangers and implications of the maneuver cleverly conducted by anti-Catholic elements. While we are not surprised at the attacks coming from our opponents, we are profoundly saddened by statements made by those who proclaim themselves loyal children of the Catholic Church.

We want to make it clear that Catholics are not asking the Government to put a ban on the printing of the book by a  private publisher nor the selling of the book by private bookshops.

But we emphatically object --

    First, to the printing of  10,000 copies at the expense of the taxpayers, that is, of the Filipino people, 82 per cent of whom are Catholics.

    Secondly,  to the required reading of such a book by high   school   children  of  whom   the  large  majority  are Catholics.

Dr. Rizal is our great national hero, and we are second to none in admiring and praising his great contribution to our national independence.  The sacrifice of his life will always be a source of great inspiration to the Filipino people and particularly to the Filipino youth.

In the heat of his political struggles, Dr. Rizal left the Church in which he was born and educated, and joined the Masonic sect.  However, when he was about to undergo the supreme sacrifice for his country and people, Almighty God in His Mercy, gave him light and strength, and our great hero died, reconciled to the religion of his forefathers.

Against what has already been adjudged by disinterested parties as an unimpeachable documentary evidence, Dr. Palma could only argue with psychological and circumstantial reasoning, which in the fact of such documentary evidence coupled with eye-witness testimony could not be admitted by honest and intelligent historians.  Confronted with a strong array of evidence supporting Dr. Rizal's retraction from his earlier anti-Catholic attitude and abjuration of masonry, Dr. Palma's argumentation would brand Rizal as a renegade and a man without character.  To us, Dr. Rizal's retraction is a tribute to his noble and sterling character, to his profound sense of honesty.  In the last hours of his early life, when he saw truth, he embraced it, laboriously, yes, but without fear of blame or consequences.

Moreover, in retracting his past religious errors, Dr. Rizal did not thereby necessarily retract his political and social ideas -- which referred to the freedom and to the greatness of his country.  The retraction of his religious errors, therefore, did not diminish his stature as a great patriot; on the contrary, it increased that stature to greatness because in the final analysis, it meant going back to the Faith and the ideals of his fathers, in a word, to the Faith of his own people.

We cannot but denounce Dr. Palma's book as a piece of anti-Catholic propaganda, and this is confirmed by the fact that the greatest interest in making this book a required reading by high school students at the expense of the taxpayers has been shown by masonic  and anti-Catholic elements.

The effect of the book is not to enhance the glory of our national hero, nor to enlighten the mind of our young  students, but to discredit the Catholic Church.

If Catholics oppose such an attempt, they are branded as reactionaries, as enemies of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.  The truth is that we have on one side a small minority of anti-Catholics and misled Catholics with arbitrary interpretations; on the other, we have the large majority of the Catholic population with objective evidence.  We ask, therefore, all fair-minded and unprejudiced Filipinos whether this imposition on the impressionable and undiscerning minds of our young people is proper to a democratic country or rather to a totalitarian state.

Dr. Palma and his admirers are entitled to their opinion.  We are content to let the truth of the fact of Dr. Rizal's retraction rest in the competent hands of diligent and conscientious historians.

We cannot tolerate the enemies of the Church being permitted to use public funds to impose on our young people false statements, and to cast serious and unfounded accusations against the Jesuit Fathers, who are as high a class of religious, intellectual, honest, hard-working men as any Filipino or group striving for the best interest and cultural progress of the country.

We cannot tolerate seeing our Government unwittingly become the pawn of a small prejudiced minority, at the expense of and against the spiritual interest of the great majority of our religious people.  In this stand, we merely testify again to the fact, admitted  by all objective observers the world over, that the Catholic Church is today in the forefront in the colossal struggle to save the basic human rights and freedoms.

Catholics of the Philippines, as shepherds of your souls, as the responsible ecclesiastical authorities for your spiritual welfare before God and the Church, we beg of you, in the name of Jesus Christ who died for all of us on the Cross, in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has shown such a special love and predilection for the Philippines, not to be misled by a false and dangerous propaganda.  We ask you all, as devout, loyal, faithful children of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, to stand united against the vile attack on your religion, and to use all the legal and democratic means to protect  the faith of your children.  We ask and command all the Catholic organizations, be they national, diocesan or parochial, to do everything in their power to prevent the perpetration of this unjust and anti-democratic insult against our Holy Mother, the Church, this blot on the fair memory of Rizal.

Given on the 6th day of January, in the year of Our Lord, 1950.

Archbishop of Manila

Bishop of Lingayen

Bishop of Lipa

Bishop of Nueva Caceres

Bishop of Nueva Segovia

Bishop of Surigao

Bishop of Tuguegarao

Bishop of Jaro

Bishop of Zamboanga

Bishop of Tagbilaran

Bishop of Cagayan

Bishop of San Fernando

Bishop of Bacolod

Vicar Apostolic of Mt. Province

Bishop of Calbayog

Pref. Apostolic of Palawan

Bishop of Palo

Pref. Apostolic of Mindoro


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