Vatican Influence in the United States: the Roman Catholic Church’s Attempt to Retain Power in the U.S. Philippines




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The United States prepared to extend its imperial conquests overseas after a century of land- locked expansionism. Normally occupied with conquering continental tracts or exerting influence in the Caribbean, the United States government opted to invest in the “Spheres of Influence” concept reverberating around the Western powers. The Philippines now protected America’s interests in the Pacific. It became evident that the Filipinos would not receive their independence at this time, as the governments of Spain and the United States worked out a treaty to transfer power. Yet the Roman Catholic Church, the largest landowner in the Philippines, still held considerable power. the American episcopacy would have an opportunity to make an impact on the future of the Philippines. Without official power in the government, the American bishops needed to exert their authority in alternative ways. Contrary to previous claims of a decentralized American episcopacy with individual bishops wielding disparate agendas, American bishops were in fact unified within America prior to the Spanish-American War. This unification occurred through their continuous subordination to Roman directives and through the protection of the Church in the Philippines at the expense of America’s best interests. The Church’s attempt to regain or exert temporal power over countries through treaties and negotiations emerges regarding the agriculturally profitable friar-owned lands and the influence of the Catholic Church on the Philippine islands.



History, United States