AN OFFICIAL of the Archdiocese of Cebu clarified that its “Sugbuswak” plan does not intend to divide the 500-year-old archdiocese. Rather, it will give birth to two more dioceses.

Monsignor Joseph Tan, the archdiocese’s spokesman, told SunStar Cebu on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, that the primary purpose of creating two new dioceses under the archdiocese is to improve the management of the church and to deliver better services to its parishioners.

The archdiocese wants to create the dioceses of North Cebu and South Cebu, which will be autonomous dioceses and will not be under the Cebu archbishop’s authority. The Archdiocese of Metropolitan Cebu, on the other hand, will be under the direct supervision of the Cebu archbishop.

Tan said they are still in the process of selecting members of the preparatory committees, which will study the necessary processes for the creation of the two new dioceses, including the distribution of priests and resource management, among others.

He said the committees will be finalized within a month or two.

“There are preparatory committees because it would be like making three local churches and there are many technical requirements for that. So the committees would be appointed to study how to do it (Sugbuswak),” said Tan.

Tan said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma will finalize the committees with the help of the Archdiocese’s Board of Consultors.

He reiterated that Sugbuswak will go through a long process before it can be implemented.

Though considered as an ecclesiastical province, the Archdiocese of Cebu has no suffragan dioceses or dioceses directly under its jurisdiction.

The neighboring dioceses of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Siquijor, Maasin in Southern Leyte and Tagbilaran and Talibon in Bohol are under the ecclesiastical province of the Archdiocese of Cebu, but they are considered autonomous or not subject to the Cebu archbishop’s authority.

During the “Gugma ug Kamatuoran” online forum organized by Cebu Caritas Inc. on Jan. 19, Palma said the committee is formulating guidelines for SugBuswak’s implementation.

The term “Sugbuswak” is a combination of “Sugbu,” the old name of Cebu, and “buswak,” which means to blossom.

Palma compared the Archdiocese of Cebu to a flower ready to blossom and spread its faith to other areas.

Once done, he said they would submit their proposal to the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines before sending it to the Vatican for deliberation.

Palma stressed the need to create two more dioceses to reach out to many Catholics living in the periphery, especially in far-flung areas, 500 years after the archdiocese was established.

He said that as archbishop of Cebu, he could not oversee the affairs of his flock, considering the distance of his seat in Cebu City to parishes in the north and south of Cebu.

Palma added that at present, it is not easy for clergymen and lay people from the parishes in the towns to visit him for official business because of the distance.