Padre Burgos was Filipino secular priest who was tried and executed for sedition in 1872. In order to understand why Burgos and two other secular priests were killed by Spanish authorities it is necessary to understand the conflict between the Spanish friars (religious orders) and the native-born diocesan (secular) priests.
Secular and Religious Priests
There are two kinds of priests in the Roman Catholic Church : diocesan (secular) and regular/religious (belonging to orders). Secular priests generally work in parishes assigned by bishops. Regular priests belong to religious orders such as Jesuits, or Franciscans, where a superior general has jurisdiction over the order's communities.
Conflict Between Bishops and the Orders: 1500s To 1760
The first priests who came to the Philippines in the 1500s were from religious orders. In the early days there were no bishops to interfere with their parish work. As bishops were appointed and attempted to exercise their authority over parishes, the regular priests refused to be controlled by them, threatening to leave the Philippines. Bishops could not appoint secular priests to replace them because very few secular priests came from Spain to the Philippines. Vacancies in parishes had to be filled by priests from the Spanish orders. In fact, until the 1700s there were no native-born ordained priests. The orders did not wish to train native priests.
Secularization of the Philippine Church : 1760s to 1820s
In 1759, a new Spanish monarch, Charles III, wishing to have more control over the Church targeted the religious orders, expelling the Jesuits from the Philippines in 1768. The secular clergy under the crown-appointed bishops were more easily controlled than were the religious priests. This created a shortage of priests in the Philippines, a problem which was solved by training and ordaining Filipino secular priests. The conflict was now between Filipino secular priests and the Spanish religious priests.
Reversal of Secularization : From 1820
The Spanish government's secularization policy changed in the 1820s following Mexico's successful war of independence from Spain. Since Mexican secular priests participated in the revolution against Spain, the Spanish government was now mistrustful of the Filipino secular priests. At first, the religious orders including the Jesuits, returned and slowly began the take-over of the parishes. Later, the Spanish authorities transferred parishes directly to the orders which aroused the secular priests to protest.
Father Burgos : 1868 - 1872
Jose Burgos was a young secular priest who emerged as the leader of the Filipino clergy in 1868. He wrote that their rights were being denied them by the Spanish priests ant parishes were being denied to Filipinos because of their race. His protests were a concern to the government and the Spanish priests.
Cavite Mutiny and Burgos Execution: 1872
The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 was an uprising of military personnel of the aresnal in Cavite. About 200 soldiers and laborers rose up believing that this was the beginning of a national uprising against the Spanish. The mutiny was unsuccessful. Although there was no real evidence that Burgos was involved in the revolt, the Spanish authorities, with the support of the Spanish orders, executed Burgos and fellow priests Gomez and Zamaora. The death of Padre Burgos affected Jose Rizal deeply and inspired his nationalistic writings.
Scumacher, John N., (1999) Father Jose Burgos: A Documentary History (1999) Quezon City : Ateneo de Manila Univ. Press
First Day of Issue Cancellation
Padre Burgos was sentenced to die by the garrotte. The garrotte was a device in which the condemned person was bound and seated in a wooden chair while the executioner tightened a metal band around his neck with a crank until the person was asphyxiated.
Garrotte execution Philippines, 1901
The first day of issue cancellation includes an image of a garrotte device.
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