CBCP to decide on proposal to create ‘personal prelature’ for Filipino migrants

CBCP to decide on proposal to create ‘personal prelature’ for Filipino migrants

By Roy Lagarde

July 3, 2022

Manila, Philippines

After two years of study, the country’s Catholic bishops will decide on a proposal to establish a “personal prelature” for Filipino migrants when they meet in plenary next weekend.

Msgr. Bernardo Pantin, secretary general of the episcopal conference, said the proposal will be on the table for decision during the bishops’ assembly from July 9 to 11 in Tagaytay City.

The competent authority to establish such ecclesiastical territory is the Vatican, but only after consultation with the bishops’ conference involved.

“If the decision is affirmative, the proposal will be sent to Rome for approval,” Pantin said.

A personal prelature is a church jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives.

This means, according to Pantin, that it will have its own bishop and priests who will look after the pastoral care of Filipinos abroad.

As of 2019, the country’s foreign affairs estimates that there are over 10 million Filipinos overseas, 3 million of which are temporary migrants of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“This is unique… if approved it will be a first in the whole Church,” Pantin said.

Discussion on the matter started in January 2020 when a Filipino priest serving in the U.S. Diocese of San Diego discussed with the CBCP about the necessity of such a prelature.

Fr. Agustin Opalalic said the idea was based on a dissertation, which he wrote during his canon law studies in Rome 25 yeas ago.

To further study the proposal, the bishops created an ad hoc committee composed of 4 episcopal commissions: canon law, migrants, clergy and seminaries.

“This is really to take care of Filipinos all over the world,” Opalalic said. “The priests will not just go to their places as guests but as their pastors.”

“If this happens, there will be Filipino priests who will be assigned to their places. This priest will be trained, formed, and oriented so that they can take care of them,” he said.

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