Plans to split Cebu archdiocese into 3 dioceses ‘underway’

THE Archdiocese of Cebu has created a committee to oversee the plan to divide it into three dioceses.

During the “Gugma ug Kamatuoran” online forum organized by Cebu Caritas Inc. on Thursday, January 19, 2023, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the committee is formulating guidelines for the implementation of SugBuswak.

The Archdiocese of Cebu, the largest in the country, will be split into the dioceses of Metropolitan Cebu, North Cebu and South Cebu.

Palma said they are discussing where to place the seats of the bishops, but there are proposals to turn Carcar City into the seat of the South Cebu diocese and the cities of Danao or Bogo as the seat of the North Cebu diocese.

However, he said the committee has to consider several things before choosing a final seat for each diocese, such as location, the number of parishes that will be affected and road access going to the diocese, among others.

‘SugBuswak’

The term “Sugbuswak” comes from the Cebuano word “buswak,” which means to blossom.

Palma said he compared the Archdiocese of Cebu to a flower that is ready to blossom and spread its faith to other areas.

“I think it’s high time. It’s inevitable that Cebu is ready for that blossoming,” he said.

Although he didn’t say who is in the committee, Palma said its members have started conducting interviews and gathering data to determine how to implement the planned split.

Once they’re done, he said they will submit their proposal to the apostolic nuncio to the Philippines before sending it to the Vatican for deliberation.

Why a three-way split?

Palma said there is a need to split the Cebu archdiocese to reach out to many Catholics living in the periphery, especially in far-flung areas, after 500 years of growth.

Under the current setup, he said that he, as Cebu archbishop, cannot oversee the affairs of his flock, considering the distance of his seat in Cebu City to parishes in the north and south of Cebu. This also applies to clergymen and laypeople living in these areas who want to visit him for official business.

“I have laypeople who need to see me. They will need to travel far just to visit me. I really pity them,” he said.

Palma said the split will allow bishops handling the three dioceses to be closer to their flock and to their priests.

Benefits for priests, lay committees

Palma said SugBuswak will give priests in far-flung parishes the opportunity to play an important role in their dioceses.

“In that way, the bishop of these dioceses after the SugBuswak can tap the talents of those priests assigned in their areas,” he said.

He said lay organizations that support the church will also benefit from SugBuswak, as it will give them an opportunity to help their respective dioceses.

Meanwhile, Palma has yet to set a timeline as to when members of the committee will conclude their data gathering.

Palma, who has served as Cebu archbishop since 2011, bared his plan to split the Archdiocese of Cebu last year.

The Archdiocese of Cebu is composed of 176 parishes. More than 400 diocesan priests and 225 religious priests currently serve in Cebu. (JKV)