Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rizal's retraction,
26 July 2006
Image by Mia 2447 (; at the top, she writes 'I wish I were a Catholic for a split second' and at the bottom of the photo she continues, ' so I could go to church here.' In December 1896, 110 years ago, the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal had one last chance to become Roman Catholic again - if he would just prepare and/or sign a retraction letter. Did he or didn't he? I have my own answer now, which I shall give you in a little while but, first, let us examine the retraction letter in its fullness. Here it is, from Gregorio F Zaide's Jose Rizal: Life, Works And Writings (2003: 223):

I declare that I am a Catholic, and in this religion, in which I was born and educated, I wish to live and die.
I retract with all my heart anything in my words, writings, publications and conduct that has been contrary to my character as a child of the Church. I believe and profess what it teaches. I submit to what it demands. I abominate Masonry as an enemy of the Church and as a society prohibited by it.
The Diocesan Prelate, as the superior ecclesiastical authority, may make this manifestation public. I declare this spontaneously, in order to repair any scandal which my acts may have caused and so that God and man may pardon me.
Manila, December 29th, 1896.
Jose Rizal

That is a beautiful piece of writing if you haven't noticed.

Rizal was born a Catholic; he was raised and educated a Catholic; he lived a Catholic until he went to Europe. I have this crazy thought just now: Did Rizal leave abruptly for Europe without saying goodbye except to a few because he wanted out of Roman Catholicism and could not bear to see for himself the hurt in the eyes of his family and friends? I believe it was one big reason for the French leave.

‘I retract with all my heart anything ... that has been contrary to ... the Church.’ One of these things would be his extreme ridicule of Catholic practice – by both priest and parishioner, master and slave, friar and Filipino – in the Philippines from the late 1870s to the late 1880s. And where do you find that ridicule? Right under your nose; even the students know where to look. Read Noli Me Tangere again!

The disrespect was too much. I do not wonder now why the Catholic Church was vehemently against Claro M Recto’s bill that eventually became the Rizal Law. And the Church was right: Having studied the Noli all these years, we have taken for granted that what the Noli paints about Catholicism is all that needs be said about Catholicism: a painting is worth a thousand words; a book is worth a thousand paintings. Why, in 1887 right after the book came out in March, even Rizal’s friends complained that Rizal could have painted the positive side of the natives instead of the negative, which was what everybody else have been painting all along. I would have written Rizal a stinging letter myself!

Oh, I am a Catholic and in this religion in which I was born and educated I wish to live and die. We had religion class in high school; in college, at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, I heard mass fervently if not frequently. But I did not look at the retraction letter like I’m looking at it now like this: a concise, strong, moving, almost literary piece. The cadence, if I understand cadence, is powerful and just right – I cannot but conclude that it is Rizal’s and nobody else.

Rizal retracted because he believed it was right, finally! For his family, for his friends, for himself. I understand he said to one of the priests who accompanied him on his personal death march: ‘My pride was my downfall.’ And at the very end, what did he shout? ‘Consummatum est!’ It is finished! The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit perfectly.


Blogger Dimasalang said...

Dr. Rizal said:

"Oh I tell you that our Catholic religion is no longer a religion of God; no I DENY IT! God ought not to be responsible for such a religion!"

-Dr. Jose Rizal to Ferdinnand Blumentritt
Paris, 15 July 1889


"It is a grievous consequence of hatred of the friars that my aged mother, who was so devout and pious, now does not want to believe any more. She says that everything is deceit, the friars have neither faith nor religion. She wants to believe only in God and the Virgin Mary, and nothing more. And like my aged mother so are my sisters, and like them are many women of the Philippines. Look, Spain, look, Catholicism, at the immediate consequence of your policy!"

-Dr. Jose Rizal to Ferdinand Blumentritt
Hong Kong, 31 January 1892

3:05 PM  
Blogger Frank A Hilario said...

Dimasalang, Jose Rizal was wrong in equating what he was witnessing (the practices of the Catholics) with the Catholic religion (the tenets, dogmas). There were nincompopes among the Catholics as there was a sinner called Martin Luther among the Protestants, but it doesn't mean what they did was what their church preached. Rizal was angry, of course, because of the persecution of his family, and allowed his logic get the better of him. Even in science, you cannot equate practice with theory.

3:42 PM  
Blogger rmacapobre said...

rizal never recanted. that is a lie perpetuated by the catholic church. rizal at the most was a deist.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIZAL did not RECANT. if he did, we should have not read and studied NOLI and FILI in high school. why?

recanting means denial of his writings. denial of what he's posing. so what's the point, right?

the letter of recanting allegedly given to Balaguer before his execution was unsigned. had he truly written it, we know it's not sincere.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Frank A Hilario said...

Rizal recanted does not mean he rejected or denied everything he wrote or thought or did. This is a subject for a deeper inquiry - don't throw in whether the document was a forgery or not. You have to establish first that there is no likelihood that he recanted - so you have to explore what it meant to Rizal to recant.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of zaide's book said that Rizal wrote a letter of retraction during his stay on Dapitan, though it was not signed, because he cannot be married to Bracken if he is not a Catholic. He did not sign because Padre Oba, the local priest in Dapitan said that it still needs to be published with his signature before he and Bracken can be married.

We can not say that he did not retract because he was still shot. Even if he retracted, he will still be sentenced to death because he was a convicted political criminal. The purpose of his retraction is for salvation.

He still believe in heaven. He was not destined to die a hero, he chased death himself.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Frankenstein said...

'The purpose of his retraction is for salvation' - good point!

6:31 AM  
Blogger ✿♡♪XoXo_MuZiK_XoXo♬♥✿ said...

ngayon ko lang nabasa ang blog na ito at bahagyang nalinawan ang aking pag-aaral kay Rizal. ngunit, may isa akong napansin:

Hindi nag-recant si Rizal dahil namatay siyang Protestante sa paniniwala ni Leon Ma. Guerrero na author ng award-winning biography ni Jose Rizal. Kung pag-aaralan at babasahing mabuti ang aklat ni G. Guerrero, mas malilinawan pa sa buhay ni Rizal.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being an ardent student of Rizal, I myself believe there are tomes and tomes of written evidence pointing to the fact that Rizal did not and could not have possibly retracted what he wrote against the Roman Catholic Church, nor recanted his freemasonry beliefs, nor returned to the Catholic faith. Frank Hilario, we don't have to read beyond the evidence. It was obvious the recantation was a fabrication of the Catholic friars in connivance with the Spanish civilian authorities.
But, Frank, the bone of contention is not Rizal's retraction or recantation or return to the faith. The issue was NEVER his religion. Our focus should be his cause, his struggle for his countrymen's freedom from colonial bondage.
You called your blog RIOT, Rizal In Our Time. I agree with you. Rizal is very much relevant today. Let's throw away our biases. Let's campaign for Rizal's ideals, his own vision of seeing a highly educated Philippine society, a populace tolerant of divergent opinions, but bound with a common goal of giving all Pinoys the opportunity to be free to pursue happiness.

1:12 PM  

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