Catholic Church

CBCP to hold highest-level meeting for first time in Mindanao

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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CBCP to hold highest-level meeting for first time in Mindanao

OPENING MASS. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines holds the opening Mass for its annual retreat, at San Isidro Labrador Cathedral in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, July 1, 2024.


The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, will address Filipino bishops ahead of their 128th plenary assembly in Cagayan de Oro City

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is set to hold its highest-level meeting, its biannual plenary assembly, for the first time in Mindanao from Saturday to Monday, July 6 to 8.

The CBCP – which is composed of 83 active bishops, 5 priest-administrators, and 39 retired bishops – will convene at Chali Resort and Conference Center in Cagayan de Oro City for its 128th plenary assembly.

CBCP secretary-general Monsignor Bernardo Pantin said the plenary will tackle the Jubilee 2025 celebrations in the country. Held every 25 years, the Jubilee is the worldwide holy year that highlights forgiveness from sins, freedom from debt and slavery, and hope in the face of challenges. 

“Let us pray for the bishops as they gather, discuss and pray about the future of the Church in the Philippines,” said Pantin.

The plenary assembly will be preceded by a bishops’ retreat at the Benedictine monks’ Transfiguration Abbey in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, from Tuesday to Thursday, July 2 to 4, according to CBCP News.

The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, is one of the speakers during the retreat. Gallagher is making an official trip to the Philippines from Monday to Saturday, July 1 to 6, and is the first secretary for relations with states of the Holy See to embark on such a visit.

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In the past, the CBCP plenary assembly was always held at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. The country’s capital, after all, was often viewed as the seat of Catholicism in the country – led by powerful figures such as Jaime Cardinal Sin – even as other cities such as Cebu take pride in their own displays of faith.

The Filipino bishops decided in 2019, however, “if they could try to go back to regional meetings, regional assemblies,” said Pantin in a 2023 interview with Rappler. That was why in 2016 and 2018, the CBCP broke tradition and held plenary assemblies in Cebu. In 2023, they held one in Kalibo, Aklan province.

Explaining the Kalibo plenary assembly, Pantin said in 2023: “The purpose really is to give people the awareness that the bishops speak together, they discuss. At least the bishops can also be nearer to the people. That is why there will be Masses with the people there: so that the people can see the bishops of the entire Philippines.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email