A proposal to split the Archdiocese of Cebu, the country’s largest ecclesiastical territory, may be sent to Rome for approval by next year, its archbishop said.
Archbishop Jose Palma said all aspects of the plan are currently being examined, including lay consultations and studies to find suitable locations for the new suffragan dioceses.
Based on the proposal, two new dioceses in the province’s north and south will be carved out from the 89-year-old archdiocese.
“We hope to come up with the final picture by January and send it to Rome… that might happen next year,” Palma said.
The archbishop said he will also present the proposal to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) when they meet for their plenary assembly next month.
The plan to divide the archdiocese, which covers the whole civil province of Cebu, has been going on for a long time.
Palma’s predecessor, the late Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, also pushed for the creation of new dioceses for more effective pastoral and administrative oversight of their growing congregations.
“It’s about time that the Mother Church will give birth to local churches,” Palma said. “We pray that it will come soon. Pray that it will be for the glory of God.”
The ecclesiastical province of Cebu currently includes the four suffragan dioceses of Dumaguete, Maasin, Tagbilaran, and Talibon.
The archdiocese has more than 600 priests, around 400 of whom are diocesan clergy serving in at least 176 parishes.
Palma is also assisted by auxiliary bishops Midyphil Billones and Ruben Labajo in the pastoral and spiritual leadership of the archdiocese.
If the Vatican approves the archdiocese’s proposal, the country’s 86 dioceses will increase to 88.