The beginnings of CBCP may be traced back to 15 February 1945 when the Most Rev. William Piani, D.D. apostolic delegate to the Philippines, created the Catholic Welfare Organization, to meet the war emergency. On 19 July, the CWO became the official organization of the hierarchy of the Philippines, with the Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu, as Chairman. It had 17 members.
Incorporated on 22 January 1946, its purpose was to unify, coordinate and organize the Filipino Catholics in the works of education, social welfare, religious and spiritual aid under the direction of the Filipino bishops. The Holy See approved the Constitution on 28 June 1952.
In line with the Vatican II developments, the CWO became the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on 31 January 1968. It's purpose was to study, promote and coordinate in a way corresponding ever more closely to the needs of the present time, the Church apostolate in the country.
In 1972, the bishops updated its structure, and the changes were given recognition by the Holy Father on 21 May 1974.
Finally, on 23 January 1988, a revised Constitution was approved by the Holy See. According to this document, the purpose of the Conference is to promote solidarity in the Philippine Church, formulate joint pastoral policies and programs, engage the Philippine Church as abide in the pastoral thrusts of the universal Church, assume the responsibilities as evangelizer in relation to all the people and with the civil authority in particular and to foster relations with other Episcopal Conferences.
At present, the CBCP is headed by the Most Rev. Oscar V. Cruz, D.D., Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan. It has 93 active and 25 honorary members.
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