TRANSLATED LETTER FROM THE BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINES TO by tommyadams

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   TRANSLATED LETTER FROM THE BISHOP OF
              THE PHILIPPINES
       TO THE KING OF SPAIN DATED 1584

              TRANSLATED BY ROBIN BRIDGE

Illustrious Lord,

      The attached letter is a copy of the letter which the prelates of the
orders wrote to Your Majesty last year, via Malacca, which was when
the court had already embarked on the revelation of what we all now
see. They encharged me to sign and stamp the letter since in my opin-
ion everything contained in it is the pure Truth and the land is in the
condition that they describe. They have written to me that I should
send it again via these ships to Your Majesty. And since I was not here
I did not sign it. By this letter Your Majesty will see what the prelates
of the orders feel about what the court is doing with the Indians and
how much damage the desire to interfere via the court is doing to their
conversion. They have written to me that they wish to address Your
Majesty again because everything which they wrote in the letter then is
now much worse than then and that if Your Majesty does not remedy
the situation that they can no longer endure it and in truth I say to Your
Majesty and in much or in all that they say they are right, because in
the whole world there cannot be any pious evangelical ministers who
are less favoured than those in this land. Your Majesty will also see in
a paragraph of this letter what the prelates felt about the petition which
the public prosecutor raised against them and against myself, which I
enclose with this letter to Your majesty, and in which I describe which
happened to me here with the public prosecutor, and I confirm to Your
Illustrious Majesty that this letter is the same as the one signed by the
prelates. Affirmed. And truthfully affirmed.

                                           The Bishop of
                                           the Philippines
 316



Copy of a letter
that the prelates of the
orders of these Philippine
Islands wrote last year, in
1584, via Malacca,
to Your Majesty.

      Confident that it is your Majesty's intention that we should satisfy
your Majesty's royal conscience by endeavouring in these lands that
the natives should come to know God, this being the principal respon-
sibility with which your Majesty encharged us in sending us here, we
hereby inform your Majesty of the obstacles and impediments we have
encountered, so that being so informed, your Majesty may issue an
order to remedy these and we may fulfill this mission to which Your
Majesty dispatched us.

     Our work in relation to this mission has until now been with the
land-owners and private individuals who, although they placed many
obstacles in our path and caused us much anxiety, did not make us lose
heart because, although there were many - though not all - who caused
us difficulties, as they were private individuals we could at times plead
with them, at times threaten them, at times have recourse to the gover-
nors who were mostly in our favour or at least they were sometimes
able to conceal their antagonism towards us. And we protested about
this as it appeared to us then that simply not putting the preventive
measures that we requested into place, caused many obstacles.

     But the obstacles are now larger and more numerous, and they are
preventable because they are made in the voice and name of Your Maj-
esty under the pretext of defending the Royal Jurisdiction, as if it had
ever not would ever have occurred to us, nor have we any need in order
to discharge our mission, to interfere with any matter relating to such
jurisdiction.

     Your Majesty is well aware and it is recorded how hated and per-
secuted the evangelical ministries have been in all the Indies, but in
these islands this is even more the case, since we have stood up to the
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land-owners and tax collectors, to the magistrates and to the other Span-
iards in these islands, such that it does not appear but that all of them
down to a man conspire to hinder the good works that we could do
among these Indians if we were not hindered. Furthermore, they avert
their eyes from what they are obliged to do as men of faith, the ex-
amples being too numerous. Others, in pursuit of their own interests
and unbridled greed, prevent us from doing anything because more
damage can be done with these weak people with one bad example that
is given to them than all the good that we can achieve by preaching to
them. And many of the land-owners and magistrates, who have more
responsibility than anyone else to favour us, by exploiting their estates
and people cause these poor people such offence and vexation that we
are given no opportunity to be able to tell them of the good that God
has sent them through the offices of Your Majesty.

     AH the disputes and quarrels arise out of this because since they
can see that we stand up to them against their interests and that we
bring to light their bad examples, they turn against us and persecute us
and slander us, seeking any possible means to pursue their ends, and
there is nothing we can do to prevent them.

     With the arrival of the Court we believed that all these evils would
be remedied and indeed a large part of them have been because the
magistrates are less audacious and the land owners are less dissolute,
and although not everything has been remedied, the president and judges
have acted in a correct manner, and as a result we believed that the
situation had been much improved.

      But from what we had thought would bring the remedy to all our
troubles now has come our ruin, and we speak in this way because
what has occurred is truly of enormous proportions because since the
magistrates and land owners have no obstacles but us to prevent them
from getting their way, they have informed the Court that we are inter-
fering in the Royal Jurisdiction and in this way they have found a man-
ner of discrediting us so that we are not in a position to stand up to
them and thus they have informed the president and judges that we had
stocks and prisons, that we seized and punished the Indians and, be-
cause of an order provided by Your Majesty on this matter, they pro-
nounced [an infraction against?] a Royal decree that is attached to this
letter for Your Majesty to read.
318

      We do not deny having the stocks which are mentioned in the
notice, neither do we deny that we have occasionally punished the
Indians, but this was done before the bishop arrived with the Pope's
authority and after his arrival with his approval and consent, and merely
in ecclesiastical cases and always with the moderation appropriate to
our mission and which the weakness and novelty of these natives
requires, and if in this any of our subordinates have exceeded their
duties in any way, they have been punished by their superiors and in-
structed how to behave, since we are not so entirely lacking in reason
that we do not know up to what point we can and must extend, nor do
we desire other than the well being of these natives, that we do not
consider thoroughly how we should treat them, whether to scold them
and punish them for their weaknesses, whether to forgive them, or
whether to be lenient and tolerate them, and if there is no confidence in
us to do this and if we are obliged to go before Courts and hearings for
each mere bagatelle as has begun to occur recently and if the slightest
complaint made by the Indians about their ministers has to be heard
before the Court and the priest or cleric summonsed under a Royal
decree, as has also recently occurred, then it would be better to aban-
don this mission, Your Majesty granting us permission to do so, than to
suffer so many vexations and anxieties when only concern is to satisfy
Your Majesty's conscience and our own which, not without tribulation,
makes us see our obligation and seek any remedy we may have to fulfil
this.

      We are well aware that it is ordered by a royal decree that priests
should not use stocks nor punish nor seize Indians and as this decree
was issued in respect of New Spain, it was never executed since it was
not deemed appropriate, and although it was appropriate in New Spain,
it is not appropriate in any way whatsoever in these lands as these
natives have different characters and customs to the Indians over there
and if the person responsible for them were not able to force and com-
pel them, they would not wish to do anything concerning the faith. And
Your Majesty must not think that we are stating this because in this
land we wish to have so much power to go among the Indians as inves-
tigating judges, preparing trials, bringing charges against them and
hearing rebuttals from them, but rather we treat them as schoolmasters
or, more appropriately, as parents with their children, sometimes prais-
ing them and sometimes scolding them, sometimes punishing them in
an appropriate fashion so that they refrain from the vices to which they
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are very inclined and sometimes being lenient and tolerating them. 'Have
confidence in us, Your Majesty. We are not doing this out of any desire
to rule nor because we wish to have authority in such matters as these,
neither because it has occurred to us to defy Your Majesty's commands,
but rather because it is evident to us that it is of the utmost importance
that we treat these natives in this fashion so that things can be done
among them and with them. This has already been clearly seen, be-
cause once the Court arrived and it was known among the Indians that
the priests were not allowed to punish them, more was lost in six months
than had been achieved since we came here, because with the liberty
they now have, they do not even wish to come to Mass nor bring their
children to be baptized nor do they give their consent to the children
receiving instruction in the faith and the chaste people we had created
will be ruined and they are going into the mountains where they can
live more freely being hidden from view and in many places they are
performing their old rites as before without respecting the priests who
are their teachers nor paying attention to what they are told, seeing that
they can no longer be forced to do anything and if they are opposed
they go to the court to lodge a complaint and they are heard in the court
as if it were a question of a lawsuit between parties, and lawyers and
clerks of which there is no lack incite them to this and the landowners
encourage them and if the decision goes against their ministers then
they want for nothing. And in this fashion, everything has collapsed so
suddenly that there is no longer any trace of piety and it seems that we
have only come to these lands to become involved in lawsuits and dis-
putes and we are so discredited in the eyes of the Indians that, they pay
more attention to a magistrate's bailiff than to all the friars and priests.


      God, to whom we must give account of what we write here, knows
that we are not stating this for any selfish motive and neither because
we are looking for an easy life instead of being involved in so much
work as we have in these lands, but we write to Your Majesty in Spain
from here because we clearly see that if we do not do so all our work
will be in vain. And we are writing in this manner to Your Majesty so
that, should our mission meet with Your approval, you graciously com-
mand that the obstacles we describe here should no longer be placed in
our path, since otherwise we cannot fulfil our responsibilities. And, if
our mission does not meet with Your approval or if we are not working
in an appropriate fashion, we request Your Majesty's permission to
abandon that which we so much wish to achieve.
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     We indeed believe that the President and judges are acting in this
fashion since they are new and have no experience in these lands. In
view of the damage arising out of this, they have amended their actions
because we requested them to do so and gave reasons for doing so, and
although they do their duty by us with fine words, their deeds do not
correspond to their words because they rule in favour of anyone citing
this decree, which they call resolved, and those citing it go away so
content that they no longer have regard for any friar or priest. And as
the Indians do not understand this language and neither do many
Spaniards, so much of the credit and authority of the faith has been lost
among them that it is better for us to abandon our preaching than to
continue with so little effect. And if the judges continue with what they
have begun it is to see us get up to be knocked down again until Your
Majesty definitively decrees that we have authority in this mission and
to do what is necessary, and if for reasons which perhaps are apparent
in Spain but which we are not aware of here what we ask is not possible,
we request Your Majesty to graciously instruct us how we can live,
since the life we are now leading cannot be tolerated nor can our souls
tolerate the manner in which we live.

     If we wished to supply copious evidence for our statements herein,
we could indeed do so since the walls and stones call out and confirm
much more than we state here, but let us not do so since our intention is
not to bring a lawsuit and we believe we do not need to bring witnesses
before Your Majesty as we are certain that you will believe our state-
ments as one can only state the pure truth when addressing Your Majesty.

      Your Majesty is well aware that not all laws can be the same ev-
erywhere since they must be adapted to the temperament of the people
and the quality of the land. It would be difficult to understand the tem-
perament of these Indians and the anguish and difficulty involved in
bringing knowledge of the truth to these Indians and how easily they
stray from it after having received it if we did not live among them.
And for this reason, decrees cannot be issued in Spain in respect of
difficulties encountered here; rather, those of us here who put God and
what His law and reason require first, must make use of such methods
as are necessary and appropriate to achieve this end, and if such confi-
dence is not placed in us our mission will be diminished because, out
of all the people here in these lands, no-one can know as much about
this matter as us, because they are in this city and in their houses with
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only second-hand knowledge of what takes place among the Indians
and we see it with our own eyes and touch it with our hands because.
out of ail the people here in these lands, no-one can know as much
about this mater as us, because they are in this city and in their houses
with only second-hand knowledge of what takes place among the Indi-
ans and we see it with our own eyes and touch it with our hands be-
cause we live among them and know and understand up to what point
their capacity extends and we tiy to adapt ourselves to what they need
and if the Court and Your Majesty's other judges wish to conduct this
business by means of lawsuits with proceedings and rebuttals, they
will place obstacles in our path so that we will not be able to do any-
thing and there will be so many upsets and obstacles among the Indi-
ans that they will be of no use to anyone.

      The business of conversion and evangelical preaching is very dif-
ferent to the conventions of the Court and there will never come a time
for these natives to understand that the business of conversion must be
carried out by lawyers and clerks, and since the laws of the Kingdoms
permit that during wartime it is not necessary to maintain the ordinary
style in punishing crimes, placing trust in the captains that, although
they do not maintain the conventions of legal proceedings, they will
maintain the law of God. There is much more reason that, in this spe-
cial campaign that we currently have, which is much more labourious,
difficult and dangerous than any other in the world, confidence should
be placed in those who are involved in it that we do what is appropriate
in order to be ultimately victorious and we do not wish now to have
subjected to pen and paper and lawsuits and rebuttals what God so
plainly wishes to be done and should be done:

      We also inform Your Majesty that the public prosecutor in this
court presented a petition against all of us and we were all very affected,
and especially the Bishop, who was most seriously affected by its
contents. Evidence of this petition has been requested which we have
not received until the present date. If we are given authorized evidence
we will send it to Your Majesty and if not with this and fwe enclose?] a
simple copy of the claim so that Your Majesty can see how we are
treated in these lands and what credit should be given to our faith.

     When such words are mentioned about the bishop and prelates of
the orders in a public court and for the satisfaction of what is here
322

being thrust upon us we confirm to Your majesty, with the truthfulness
due when speaking to our King and lord, that whatever has been stated
we do not know or understand what we have done or said for the public
prosecutor to be able to present this petition but rather, as we have
mentioned above, everyone is trying to discredit us and in order to do
so, they seek any legal or illegal methods they can. A copy of the peti-
tion which was presented on the part of the Bishop in order to request
this evidence, is enclosed with this letter, and the secretary did not
wish to provide it,simply responding with another petition to request
that it should be sent for due authorisation and a copy was sent to the
public prosecutor, and in this status the affair has remained until now.
However our only intention is that Your Majesty should know what is
happening, and that it can be seen clearly how the petitions which have
been sent to were authorised.

     We are at Your Majesty's disposal here as your chaplains and you
know that we live in these lands without personal interests, and there-
fore Your Majesty will see that we have no reason not to tell the truth in
our dealings with Your Royal Majesty whom God protect for many
years for the defence of the Church our Holy Mother and protector of
those of little power.




From Manila,

    The Bishop of the Philippines, Fray J. De Placencia, custodian/
Fray Diego al Bazer.

								
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