Growing Filipino Church Has New Diocese

MANILA, Philippines, MARCH 25, 2009 ( Benedict XVI has created a new diocese in recognition of the Church’s growth in the Philippines.

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The Holy See and the Filipino bishops’ conference reported this today along with the appointment of the Bishop José Rojas, 52, to head the diocese of Libmanan.  
The diocese stems from the territorial prelature of the same name, which was created by Pope John Paul II with an apostolic letter dated December 9, 1989. It was canonically erected on March 19, 1990.
One month ago, the bishops’ conference formally requested the Vatican to raise the prelature in the province of South Camarines to the rank of diocese.
Libmanan, suffragan of the archdiocese of Caceres, covers an area of 1,800 square kilometers [1,118 square miles]. Its population is made up of 500,000 Catholics, served by 51 priests in 27 parishes.
With the latest incorporation, the most Catholic country in Asia now has 16 archdioceses, 52 dioceses, seven apostolic vicariates, five territorial prelatures, one military ordinary and over 100 bishops.
Bishop Rojas, head of the former prelature, is a native of Cebu. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Caceres in September of 2005, having previously been its vicar general and rector of the seminary.
The Philippines has the third largest number of Catholic inhabitants, behind Brazil and Mexico.

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