The Independent Philippine Church (IPC) or Aglipayan Church is a popular schismatic Catholic church founded in 1902 by the priest Gregorio Aglipay and Sr. Isabelo de los Yeyes. The schism was a function of the native Filipino clergy’s resentment of Spanish Catholic orders during the late Spanish colonial period, and received early support from some Filipino nationalists as well as American Protestants. Aglipay himself clearly underscored that the schism’s roots were in the treatment of the native clergy by the Vatican. The church has faced strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church throughout the past century, though has subsided in recent decades as the IPC has drawn closer to the Episcopal church.
During the 1930s Gregorio Aglipay was drawn to Unitarianism and associated the IPC with the American Unitarian Association, disavowing Trinitarian views and in the years that followed, adopting other positions that diverged from the Catholic Church. After Aglipay’s death in 1940, his successors rolled back many of these changes and shifted alliances to the American Episcopal Church, becoming a member of the global Anglican Communion. Nonetheless, the past century has seen numerous doctrinal schisms in the church.
Cleavages that took place in the 1990s—largely over support for breakaway factions in the American Episcopal church—led to the emergence of the separate Philippine Independent Catholic Church. The IPC maintains ecumenical partnerships with the Anglican Communion, the Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches, the Church of Sweden, and others. Notable members of the Aglipayan church include Ferdinand Marcos, who later converted to Roman Catholicism.
“Aglipayan Church,” Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs,
J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of Protestantism (New York: Facts on File, 2007), p. 15-16.
Paul A. Rodell, “The Founding of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (The “Aglipayan Church): An Historiographical Review,” Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society, No. 16 (1988), pp. 210-234.
Steven Shirley, Guided By God: The Legacy of the Catholic Church in Philippine Politics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2004), p. 29.