Why was the Propaganda Movement in Philippine history anti-friar?

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The Propaganda Movement was a late nineteenth-century reform movement aimed at securing for the peoples of the Philippines the same rights that Spaniards held in Spain. The Philippines at that time were still a Spanish colony. The participants in the movement, referred to as Propagandists, were Filipinos who lived in Spain, with many students among them. They spread their messages through the publication of pamphlets and other literature. The Propaganda Movement contributed to the development of national identity in the Philippines and, indirectly, to the Revolution of 1896.

What did friars have to do with this movement? Already during the mid-1800s, there was a push for Filipino ecclesiastical (i.e. church) autonomy, one of the most prominent proponents being Pedro Peláez y Sebastián (1812–1863), who favored the expulsion of the friars, whom he saw as an impediment to native autonomy. The friars reacted by justifying their presence in the Philippines and describing the natives as unfit to administer themselves. This position only strengthened the argument made by the likes of Peláez and later made the friars a target of the Propaganda Movement.

For a scholarly analysis of the movement, see The Propaganda Movement, 1880-1895: The Creators of Filipino Consciousness, the Makers of the Revolution by John N. Schumacher.

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The Propaganda Movement was anti-friar because its member felt that the friars in the Philippines exercised too much power.  They felt that the power of the monastic orders was used for the benefit of those orders and not for the benefit of the people.

In the Philippines at that time, the monastic orders controlled most of the local parishes.  This put them in a position of being in direct control of the people.  The leaders of the Propaganda Movement felt that this power was being used to keep the people down.  The friars were the ones, they felt, who decided which laws should be enforced and how.  The friars, therefore, had more power than the people and more power than the legal government.

The Propaganda Movement was a liberal, reformist movement.  Therefore, its members tended to distrust the Church and wanted to reduce its power.  This is why the movement was anti-friar.

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