Archbishop Sancho, determined to cripple the religious orders, hurriedly ordained a large number of Filipino seculars, after rudimentary training in the seminary, and assigned them to the vacant parishes. The poorly trained Filipino priests, however, were not ready for the sudden imposition of full responsibility in the local churches. Consequently, on 11 December 1776 the Spanish king, having received numerous complaints against the Filipino seculars, including one from Governor-General Anda himself, suspended the transfer of parishes to the Filipino clergy. According to the king's decree the friars in charge of parishes would subject themselves to canonical visitation, but only by their own superiors, while the archbishop would retain the right only to visit parishes held by secular clergy. The Spanish friars thus consolidated their power and influence in Philippine society, while the Filipino secular priests were denied the rights and privileges granted to the Spanish mendicants. The antagonism between the two groups deepened in the course of the nineteenth century into national and racial enmity.
The events ofthe 1760s and early 1770s contributed significantly to the decline of the Philippine church. To make matters worse, the mendicant orders found it harder to attract new recruits from Spain, as a consequence ofthe disruptions during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic warfare in Europe. Thus, while the Catholic faith remained strong in the Philippine lowlands, the upland regions were neglected because of a lack of properly trained priests, and a consequent decline of missionary ardour. This regional dichotomy in religious identity would persist to the present day.
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