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Archdiocese of Manila


Manila was established as a diocesan suffragan to Mexico on February 6, 1579, by Pope Gregory XIII, following the first successful missionary efforts. In 1678 Fray Domingo Salazar, OP was appointed bishop of the diocese, taking possession of his ecclesiastical seat in 1581. The Church which was earlier built by Legazpi on the site where the Manila Cathedral now stands became the seat of the diocese under the patronage of La Purisima Inmaculada Concepcion de Nuestra Senora. Under him the First Synod of Manila was held. And among the important decisions in that synod were the teaching of the catechism in the native dialect, and the declaration of human rights of native Christians and non-Christians.

On August 14, 1595, Pope Clement VIII raised the diocese to the status of an archdiocese and created three new dioceses as suffragan to Manila: Nueva Caceres, Nueva Segovia, and Cebu. With the creation of these new dioceses, the territory of the archdiocese was reduced to the City of Manila and the ten civil provinces near it: Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Bataan, Zambales, and Mindoro.

The territory of the then Archdiocese of Manila is described in Blair and Robertson (The Philippines Islands, Volume XXVIII) as "extending 100 leagues north and south; the villages were distant from its capital, being 40 leagues to the north, and about 60 to the south. It is bounded on the north by the Diocese of Nueva Segovia, and on the south by that of Cebu. Its western boundaries are maritime."

Since Bishop Salazar, thirty prelates have governed the ecclesiastical territory. Salazar was succeeded by Santibañez, a Franciscan, whom the Dominican Miguel de Benavidez replaced in 1603. Diego Vasquez de Mercado, appointed in 1610, was the first secular to head the archdiocese. There followed after him a succession of archbishops from three religious congregations – the Augustinians, the Dominicans, the Franciscans, with some secular priests in between, among them Basilio Sancho de Stats Justa y Rufina, who headed the archdiocese from 1767 to 1787. He adopted a policy for training native secular priests to replace those from the religious orders in the parishes of the archdiocese.

In 1903, following the establishment of American sovereignty in the Philippines, the archdiocese got its non-Spanish bishop in the person of Jeremias Harty, a secular priest, succeeding the Spanish Dominican Bernardino Nozaleda, the last of the Spanish archbishops. In 1949, Gabriel Reyes, a Filipino, was appointed Archbishop of Manila, the first Filipino to be so appointed. He was succeeded in 1953 by Archbishop Rufino J. Santos who in 1960 was made a cardinal the first Filipino to be so appointed.

On April 10, 1910, the province of Mindoro was removed from the Archdiocese of Manila by Pope Pius X, implementing a Papal bull of the diocese of Lingayen, dividing Manila and Nueva Segovia. In this division 26 parishes were removed from Manila. On December 11, 1948, the Apostolic Constitution "Probe noscitur" further divided the Archdiocese of Manila by separating the northern part of the archdiocese and establishing it as the new Diocese of San Fernando.

On November 25, 1961, the Archdiocese of Manila was divided again. Taken away from it was the province of Cavite in the south, and the province of Bulacan in the north. Cavite became the new Diocese of Imus, while Bulacan became the new Diocese of Malolos. On January 24, 1983, the eastern part of the province of Rizal was taken away from the Archdiocese of Manila and established as the new Diocese of Antipolo. Fifteen towns and two barangays were separated from Manila to form the new diocese.

Today the Archdiocese of Manila covers a land area measuring 946 square kilometers and is made up of the eight cities of Manila, Caloocan, Pasay, Quezon, Mandaluyong, Makati, Muntinlupa and Pasig (excluding the districts of Santolan and Rosario), and the municipalities of Parañaque, Malabon, San Juan, Navotas, Las Piñas, Taguig and Pateros.

Total population in 1994 was estimated at 8,108,056, with the Catholic population placing at 90.8 per cent. Non-Catholic Christians constitute 8 per cent, while non-Christians make up 1.1 per cent. The population of the archdiocese is a mixture of various ethnic groups coming from the various regions of the country, by the Tagalogs constitute the majority which makes up 75 per cent of the population. The median age of the population is 22.

The Archdiocese follows the age-old system of parochial and vicarial division in its internal organization. The parish remains as the smallest organizational unit. The parish remains as the smallest organizational unity. Parishes are grouped by vicariates and these by ecclesiastical districts. There are 6 such ecclesiastical districts, 38 vicariates and 243 parishes. Of the 243 parishes, 237 are territorial, 3 are personal, and 2 are personal-territorial. 175 are under the administration of the diocesan clergy while 68 are under the religious.

The following advisory bodies provide assistance to the archbishop on policy matters: College of Consultors, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Presbyteral Council, Council of the Laity, Council of the Religious, Archdiocesan Youth Council, and Finance Council.

There are 299 priests in the diocesan clergy serving the Archdiocese of Manila. There are 55 religious institutes for men and 130 for women. Catholic schools include 4 universities and 132 elementary schools, high schools and colleges. Among other institutions are 6 Catholic hospitals, 13 dispensaries, 2 seminaries and 14 catechetical centers.

The pastoral vision and goal of the archdiocese were spelled out in the 1979 Synod of Manila: 1) the direction is to evangelize and Christianize all sectors of the archdiocese into one People of God, and 2) the goal is to establish and promote witnessing, serving and nourishing communities among all sectors and levels, through a dialogue of total faith and human life.

The major priority of the archdiocese are identified by the Synod as Organization, Clergy and Seminarians, Religious, Laity, Liturgy, Education, Social Communications, Ecumenism, Community Affairs and Social Justice, Missionary Responsibility and Temporalities.

The implementation of these pastoral priorities is realized through the pastoral programs of the 8 pastoral ministries: the Ministries for Priestly Formation, Lay Formation, Education and Catechetics, Social Welfare, Care of the Sick, Liturgical Affairs, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, and Social Communications.

The head of the archdiocese is the Archbishop of Manila who is assisted in the pastoral administration by his auxiliary bishops, vicars general, and episcopal vicars. The Archdiocesan Curia is headed by the Moderator Curiae who coordinates the functions of the following offices: Chancery, Treasury and Accounting Department, Auditing Department, Administrative and Personnel Services, Archdiocesan Archives and Museum, Archdiocesan Office for Research and Development and the Legal Office.

His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, D.D.
Ordained priest: April 3, 1954
Ordained bishop: March 18, 1967
Archbishop of Manila: January 21, 1974
Elevated to the Cardinalate: May 24, 1976


Most Rev. Teodoro J. Buhain, D.D., MA
Episcopal Vicar for the District of Manila
Ordained priest: December 21, 1960
Ordained bishop: February 21, 1983
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila: January 5, 1983

Most Rev. Teodoro C. Bacani, Jr., D.D., STD
Episcopal Vicar for the District of Manila
Ordained priest: December 21, 1965
Ordained bishop: April 12, 1984
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila: March 6, 1984

Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas
Episcopal Vicar for the District of Makati
Ordained priest: October 5, 1985
Ordained bishop: August 31, 2001
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila: 2001

Most Rev. Jesse E. Mercado, D.D.
Episcopal Vicar for the District of Parañaque
Ordained priest:
Ordained bishop:
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila:

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