IFI-RCC in Historic Ecumenical Milestone


Celebrating IFI 119th Anniversary and Document Launching

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) were both “gifted to give” as the two churches joined hands in “Celebrating the Gift of Faith, Learning from the Past, Journeying Together,” as the theme of this historic ecumenical milestone.  It also marked the celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, 1521-2021, fostering a new era of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, and promoting healing and reconciliation between the two ecclesial bodies.  

Signifying the start of this important relationship, two important documents, “Mutual Recognition of Baptism” and the “Unity Statement,” were earlier produced and signed, and then jointly launched in this liturgical service at 11:00 am following the momentous 8:00 am Holy Mass celebrating the IFI’s119th Foundation Anniversary on August 3, 2021 (Tuesday) at the National Cathedral on Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila. The Obispo Maximo, the Most Rev. Rhee Millena Timbang, was the main celebrant and preacher of the Holy Eucharist; the concelebrants were the Very Rev. Canons Julius Barrameda and Marciano Carabio. Both historic events were co-hosted by the IFI National Cathedral and the Diocese of Greater Manila Area through its diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador R. Ballesteros.

Subsequent to the Holy Mass, the liturgical launching was graced by the RCC’s ecclesiastical dignitaries from the Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines (CBCP) and the FOCOLARE (Catholic ecumenical group).  Visible at the altar were Archbishop Deogracias S. Yniguez Jr. (Co-chair, Ecumenical Bishops Forum), Msgr. Bernardo R. Pantin (Secty General, CBCP), Rev. Fr. Reynante Tolentino (Rector, Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo), Rev. Fr. Roland Tuazon, CM (Gospeler), Sister Maria Gloria Bonghanoy, RVM (First Epistle Reading), and Ms. Lailani Tolentinto-Rahon (IFI-Second Epistle Reading).  

119th Proclamation Anniversary of Iglesia Filipina Independiente | 3 AUGUST 2021

119th Proclamation Anniversary of Iglesia Filipina Independiente | 3 AUGUST 2021

Posted by IFI Obispado Maximo on Monday, August 2, 2021

Starting at 8:00 AM, the Holy Eucharist was led by the Obispo Maximo Rhee Millena Timbang.  Also at the altar were the Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador Ballesteros (DGMA diocesan bishop) and the Rev. Fr. Mario Quince (Gospel reader) and Deacon Alberto Ramento III (assistant minister).  The DGMA clergy (in white vestments) were in attendance at the pews; so were the former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, the Cathedral Council members, and the other IFI faithful.

In his homily, the Most Rev. Timbang exhorted the IFI to abide in Christ and to live out the Christian unity as St. Paul reminded us in Ephesians 4:4-6.  He expressed the gratitude of the IFI as offerings for the following: (1) accomplishments, experiences, and challenges amidst this pandemic, (2) two ecumenical documents—product of the continuing dialogue between the two churches, and (3) two churches’ unity in prayer, maturity, and faith (Ephesians 4:12-13).  He explained the IFI three-fold goals: (1) unity in prayer, (2) intensification of mission role, and (3) maturity in the faith through the educational programs, institutional and resource development, intensification of mission, and faithful church-goers. 

Photo grabbed from CBCP News

The liturgical launching of the documents was the highlight of the series of dialogues between the two churches committees – IFI: Most Rev. Rhee Timbang, Rev. Frs. Ramil Aguilar, Dionito Cabillas, Nixon Jose, and Rev. Erahvilla Maga-Cabillas; and RCC:  Most Rev. Archbp. Antonio Ledesma SJ, Rev. Fr. Manoling Francisco SJ, Rev. Fr. Roland Tuazon CM, and Focolare representatives. Symbolic of any alliances, the two churches exchanged gifts: from the IFI -- a miniature statue of the Birhen Balintawak (enclosed in a glass cage) and the from the RCC – the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Antipolo Church). Capping this liturgical service was the raising and waving of the two flags, IFI and RCC.


Signatories to the two documents included: for IFI – The Most Rev. Rhee M. Timbang, the Rt. Rev. Delfin D. Callao Jr., and the Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador R. Ballesteros; for RCC – The Most Rev. Archbp. Romulo G. Valles (President, CBCP), the Most Rev. Archbp. Angelito R. Lampon, OMI (Chair, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs), and the Most Rev. Archbp. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ. (Chair, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Mutual Relations). 

In compliance to government mandate for health protocols, attendance was limited to enforce social distancing and the wearing of masks for attendees. The choral renditions were recorded and projected on the tv screens inside the cathedral, while both services were livestreamed so that the faithful could watch from their homes via Zoom or Facebook. 

Concluding these two memorable events was the fellowship lunch shared by the participants and guests held at two venues (for social distancing): at the IFI Conference Center and the NC garden.


Reported by:

The Rev. Vicky S. Esguerra




Pin It