- Aglipay, Gregorio
- (1860-1940)founder of the Philippine Independent ChurchGregorio Aglipay was born in Bathe, Ilocos Norte, the Philippines, on May 8, 1860. Orphaned in his second year, he was raised by his maternal granduncles and grandaunts. Much of his boyhood was spent working in the tobacco fields. At the age of 14 he was arrested and interrogated for failing to meet his work quota, stoking his resentment of the islands' Spanish rulers.In 1876, Aglipay moved to Manila to further his meager education, eventually graduating from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 1883, he entered the Vigan Seminary to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood. He was ordained in 1889 and served in various parishes over the next decade. His assignment to the parish at Victoria, Tarlac, in 1896 led him to take part in the Philippine revolution.As the representative of his home province, Ilo-cos Norte, he attended the 1898 meeting that established a revolutionary government, and signed the constitution of the hoped-for independent country. General Emilio Aguinaldo (1869-1964) appointed Aglipay military vicar general and assigned him the task of building an indigenous church in the Philippines. His call to the Filipino clergy to take control of the Catholic Church in the Philippines occasioned his formal excommunication. He soon emerged as the supreme bishop of the new Philippine Independent Church (PIC), a body that was Catholic in every way except in its ties to the Roman hierarchy.Aglipay took up arms during the Spanish-American War, but in 1901, realizing it was a lost cause, he surrendered to the American forces. He continued to lead the Philippine Independent Church following the war, though most of its millions of members left when all of its property was returned to the Catholic Church. He rebuilt the church, which soon returned to prominence as the second-largest church in the country. During the remaining years of his life, Aglipay worked for Philippine self-governance and for a strong PIC, the two efforts often interrelated.During the years of American rule of the islands, a number of Protestant churches took root, and some were quite successful. After World War I, Aglipay was attracted to Unitarianism, and during the 1930s, he openly rejected traditional Trinitarian views. In 1939, when Louis Cornish, then president of the American Unitarian Association (now the Unitarian Universalist Association) visited the Philippines, Aglipay had him named honorary president of the PIC. The PIC began to deviate from Catholicism in other ways, too, among them by rejecting a celibate priesthood. Aglipay himself married in 1939, when he was nearly 80 years old.Aglipay died in Manila on September 1, 1940. After his death, his successor in the PIC dropped the non-Trinitarian theology and the relationship with the Unitarian Association, instead establishing ties with the Episcopal Church (based in the United States). It was subsequently accepted as a full member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.In the 1980s, the PIC became involved in battles in the United States between the Episcopal Church establishment and conservative traditionalists. Several PiC bishops consecrated bishops for the breakaway factions. This led to a split in the PiC in the 1990s, with almost half the membership leaving to form the Philippine independent Catholic Church. Both churches now claim the Aglipay heritage. With more than 2 million members each, they remain the largest church bodies in the Philippines apart from the Catholic Church.Further reading:■ Pedro S. de Achutegui, S.J., Religious Revolution in the Philippines: The Life and Church of Gregorio Aglipay 1860-1960, 2 vols. (Manila: Ateneo de Manila, 1960)■ Ambrocio M. Manaligod, Gregorio Aglipay: Hero or Villain? (Manila: Communication Foundation for Asia, 1977)■ Our Heritage Our Response (Manila: iglesia Filipina independiente, 1993)■ Apolonio M. Ranche, ed., Doctrine and Constitutional Rules, Important Documents, Various Articles and Chronology of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Quezon City: St. Andrew's Seminary, 1996)■ William Henry Scott, Aglipay before Aglipayanism (Quezon City: National Priest organization, 1987).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.