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PLENARY ASSEMBLY


The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is the official organization of the Catholic hierarchy in the country. As the national Episcopal Conference, it counts as its members all diocesan bishops and those equivalent them in law; all coadjutor and auxiliary bishops; and all other titular bishops who exercise for the entire nation a special office assigned to them by the Apostolic See or by the Episcopal Conference itself.

The assembly of the Philippine Bishops has been known as the CBCP only since 1968. Before then, the official organization of the Catholic hierarchy was the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO), which was created in 1945 to respond to war emergencies. The CWO was incorporated in 1946 with the stated purpose to unify, coordinate and organize the Filipino Catholics in the works of education, social welfare, religious and spiritual aid. Its Constitution was approved by the Holy See in 1952.

The CWO became the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on January 31, 1968. The members updated its structure in 1972 and revised its Constitution in 1988, both of which were duly approved by the Holy See.

As provided in its Constitution, the purposes of the CBCP are to promote solidarity in the Philippine Church; to engage the Philippine Church actively in the thrusts of the universal Church; to assume the responsibilities as evangelizer in relation to all the people, and in particular to civil authority; and to foster relations with other Episcopal Conferences.

The members of the CBCP gathered as a body in pursuit of its objectives constitute the Plenary Assembly, which is the highest decision-making body of the Conference.

It is the Plenary Assembly which elects through direct vote the officers of the Conference, composed of the following: President, Vice-President, Secretary General and Treasurer. It is likewise the Plenary Assembly which elects the members of the Permanent Council, the Chairmen of the Episcopal Commissions and the heads of the agencies attached to the Conference.

The Plenary Assembly meets in regular session twice a year—in January and in July. When the Plenary Assembly is not in session, the Permanent Council acts for and in behalf of the Conference.

The Permanent Council is composed of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and ten regional representatives (five for Luzon, two for Visayas and three for Mindanao).

The President of the CBCP serves for a term of two years, and is limited to only two consecutive terms. The members of the Permanent Council, on the other hand, have a term of two years but are allowed a cumulative number of up to four terms. They may not, however, serve for more than two consecutive terms in succession.

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