THE ORDER of Preachers has set a 2013 deadline for the complete turnover of UST to the Filipino Dominicans from the Master of the Order in Rome, to resolve “difficulties and misunderstandings” in the way the University is administered.

According to the Acts of the Elective General Chapter of the Order of Preachers, a documentation of the decisions and deliberations during the 2010 General Chapter in Rome, Fr. Bruno Cadore, O.P., Master of the Dominican Order, was tasked to appoint a commission for the transfer of UST to the jurisdiction of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. Cadore is chancellor of UST.

“We commission the Master of the Order to appoint a commission to formulate the concrete measures required for the transfer of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Manila to the jurisdiction of the Dominican Province of the Philippines,” the Acts said, noting that the decision to transfer UST to the Filipino Dominicans had been made way back in 1995, during the General Chapter in Caleruega, Spain.

“The work of this commission is to be completed and submitted to the Master and his council for approval and implementation by 2013,” the Acts said.

The General Chapter gathers heads of the Dominican provinces all over the world every three years and is the supreme authority of the Order. Last September’s chapter in Rome, attended by Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, O.P., prior provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, led to the election of the French friar Cadore as Master.

The top Dominican in the country said there would only be “few changes.”

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“As [to] what are the implications [of the said transfer of jurisdiction over UST], I don’t want to say much on this because I don’t want to pre-empt the work of the commission,” Pedregosa, the vice chancellor of UST, told the Varsitarian. “I think we have to wait for that commission to spell out what are the concrete steps and implications.”

The 1995 General Chapter started the process by ordering the transfer of the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas, which has jurisdiction over UST, to the Philippine Province from the Master. It sought “concrete measures” for the transfer of UST to Filipino Dominicans under a “climate of mutual understanding and of fraternal search for consensus.” The 1995 chapter said the Master should remain the “guarantor of autonomy, security, and continuance of the University as a Dominican center for higher and special studies.”

The Filipinization of UST reached a climax with the appointment Fr. Leonardo Legaspi, O.P. as the University’s first Filipino rector in October 1971. In December of the same year, Filipino Dominicans split from the Holy Rosary Province of Spanish Dominicans, which had jurisdiction over UST since its foundation until the 1970s, when the University became common territory under the Master of the Order.

Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of the University, said questions about the issue would be addressed once the Master of the Order has formed the commission.

Pedregosa said the commission has yet to be formed, but the names of the members were expected to be submitted to the Master of the Order by the end of summer.

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“Offhand, I would say [that] it will never touch [or] change the hallowed character of [UST]: its royal, pontifical, and Catholic [characteristics],” Pedregosa said. “Secondly, it will never touch the office of the Master of the Order as Grand Chancellor of the University.”

In his report as outgoing Master of the Order in the General Chapter in Rome, the Argentine Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa, O.P. said the position of Chancellor of UST “must not be reduced to a decorative or ceremonial role.”

Aspiroz, in his report titled Relatio Magistiri Ordinis De Statu Ordinis, explained that he saw the position of Grand Chancellor as the one who assures that all “centers of studies must perform their mission according to the laws of the Dominican Order.”

According to the General Statutes of the University, the Grand Chancellor “assures that the Ecclesiastical Laws, by which the University is governed, are faithfully observed and executed.”

“The community of priests … has been under the jurisdiction of the [Dominican] Province of the Philippines since 1995, while [UST] is still under the jurisdiction of the Master,” said an English translation of Aspiroz’s report, which was written in Spanish. “This situation has led to some ambiguity in the government and administration [of the Order], causing many difficulties and misunderstandings.”

He said these problems have been gradually resolved.

“UST has spent turbulent times. An attempt was made to accompany the process [of addressing the problems], but there are still open wounds,” Aspiroz said.

The former Master said he believed the process launched at the General Chapter of 1995 has not been sufficiently fulfilled.

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De la Rosa, in a letter sent to the Varsitarian, said the “open wounds” stated by Azpiroz referred to the “effects of the many turbulent vicissitudes [or unexpected changes] that the University has encountered throughout its existence,” and not on any conflict between UST and the central administration of the Dominican Order.

In a rare intervention, Azpiroz, during a 2007 canonical visitation of UST, terminated the P3-billion redevelopment plan of UST Hospital. The intra-order dispute led to the resignations of then rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., vice rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P., and Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P., prior provincial. Rommel Marvin C. Rio

2 COMMENTS

  1. There’s no existing Law that states when one still uses “RP” as our country’s acronym, they’ll go to jail. It will take time for us to get used to it. Parang last year lang naman nauso yung bagong acronym for the Philippines

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