Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jose Rizal's retraction: the controversy

By Dr. Raul Nidoy

One of my contributions at Wikipedia, in the article on Jose Rizal, which I first wrote in November 2009. It is written in accord with Wikipedia's NPOV policy, meaning Neutral Point of View. 
Several historians report that Rizal retracted his anti-Catholic ideas through a document which stated: "I retract with all my heart whatever in my words, writings, publications and conduct have been contrary to my character as a son of the Catholic Church."[note 13] However, there are doubts of its authenticity given that there is no certificate of Rizal's Catholic marriage to Josephine Bracken.[45] Also there is an allegation that the retraction document was a forgery.[46]

After analyzing six major documents of Rizal, Ricardo Pascual concluded that the retraction document, said to have been discovered in 1935, was not in Rizal's handwriting. Senator Rafael Palma, a former President of the University of the Philippines and a prominent Mason, argued that a retraction is not in keeping with Rizal's character and mature beliefs.[47] He called the retraction story a "pious fraud."[48] Others who deny the retraction are Frank Laubach,[10] a Protestant minister; Austin Coates,[31] a British writer; and Ricardo Manapat, director of the National Archives.[49]

Those who affirm the authenticity of Rizal's retraction are prominent Philippine historians such as Nick Joaquin,[note 14] Nicolas Zafra of UP[50] León María Guerrero III,[note 15] Gregorio Zaide,[52] Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Ambeth Ocampo,[49] John Schumacher,[53] Antonio Molina,[54] Paul Dumol[55] and Austin Craig.[26] They take the retraction document as authentic, having been judged as such by a foremost expert on the writings of Rizal, Teodoro Kalaw (a 33rd degree Mason) and "handwriting experts...known and recognized in our courts of justice", H. Otley Beyer and Dr. José I. Del Rosario, both of UP.[50]

Historians also refer to 11 eyewitnesses when Rizal wrote his retraction, signed a Catholic prayer book, and recited Catholic prayers, and the multitude who saw him kiss the crucifix before his execution. A great grand nephew of Rizal, Fr. Marciano Guzman, cites that Rizal's 4 confessions were certified by 5 eyewitnesses, 10 qualified witnesses, 7 newspapers, and 12 historians and writers including Aglipayan bishops, Masons and anti-clericals.[56] One witness was the head of the Spanish Supreme Court at the time of his notarized declaration and was highly esteemed by Rizal for his integrity.[57]

Because of what he sees as the strength these direct evidence have in the light of the historical method, in contrast with merely circumstantial evidence, UP professor emeritus of history Nicolas Zafra called the retraction "a plain unadorned fact of history."[50] Guzmán attributes the denial of retraction to "the blatant disbelief and stubbornness" of some Masons.[56] To explain his retraction, Guzman said that the factors were the following: (a) the long discussion and debate which appealed to reason and logic that he had with Fr. Balaguer, (b) the visits of his mentors and friends from the Ateneo, and (c) the grace of God due the numerous prayers of religious communities.

Supporters see in the retraction Rizal's "moral courage...to recognize his mistakes;"[52][note 16] his reversion to the "true faith", and thus his "unfading glory;"[57] and a return to the "ideals of his fathers" which "did not diminish his stature as a great patriot; on the contrary, it increased that stature to greatness."[60]  On the other hand, senator Jose Diokno stated, "Surely whether Rizal died as a Catholic or an apostate adds or detracts nothing from his greatness as a Filipino... Catholic or Mason, Rizal is still Rizal - the hero who courted death 'to prove to those who deny our patriotism that we know how to die for our duty and our beliefs'."[61]

Notes 13 to 16
^ Me retracto de todo corazon de cuanto en mis palabras, escritos, impresos y conducta ha habido contrario á mi cualidad de hijo de la Iglesia Católica: Jesus Cavanna, Rizal's Unfading Glory: A Documentary History of the Conversion of Dr. José Rizal (Manila: 1983) ^ Joaquin, Nick, Rizal in Saga, Philippine National Centennial Commission, 1996:""It seems clear now that he did retract, that he went to confession, heard mass, received communion, and was married to Josephine, on the eve of his death". ^ "That is a matter for handwriting experts, and the weight of expert opinion is in favor of authenticity. It is nonsense to say that the retraction does not prove Rizal's conversion; the language of the document is unmistakable."[51] ^ The retraction, Javier de Pedro contends, is the end of a process which started with a personal crisis as Rizal finished the Fili.[58][59]
^ Ildefonso T. Runes and Mameto R. Buenafe, The Forgery of the Rizal "Retraction" and Josephine's "Autobiography" (Manila: BR Book Col, 1962) ^ "Rizal's Retraction: A Note on the Debate, Silliman Journal (Vol. 12, No. 2, April, May, June 1965), pages 168–183". Life and Writings of José Rizal. Retrieved September 9, 2009. ^ Rafael Palma, Pride of the Malay Race (New York: Prentice Hall, 1949) ^ a b Ambeth Ocampo (2008). Rizal Without the Overcoat. Anvil Publishing. ^ a b c Nicolas Zafra (1961). Historicity of Rizal's Retraction. Bookmark. ^ Guerrero, León Maria III (1963). "The First Filipino: A Biography of José Rizal". National Historical Institute of The Philippines, Manila. ^ a b Gregorio Zaide (2003). Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist and National Hero. National Bookstore. ^ Schumacher, John. "The Making of a Nation: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Nationalism". ^ Molina, Antonio M. (1998). "Yo, José Rizal". Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica, Madrid. ^ "Uncovering Controversial Facts about José Rizal" (mariaronabeltran.com) ^ a b Marciano Guzman (1988). The Hard Facts About Rizal's Conversion. Sinagtala Publishers. ^ a b Jesus Cavanna (1983). Rizal's Unfading Glory: A Documentary History of the Conversion of Dr. Jose Rizal. ^ Javier de Pedro (2005) Rizal Through a Glass Darkly, University of Asia and the Pacific ^ "Evolution of Rizal's Religious Thought". ^ (1950-01-06). "Joint Statement of the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines on the Book 'The Pride of the Malay Race'". CBCP (Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines) Documents. Retrieved on 2012-09-30. ^ Garcia, Ricardo P. (1964). "The Great Debate: The Rizal Retraction - Preface". R.P. Garcia Publishing Co., Quezon City.

Conclusion: People have asked me what can I personally conclude from the evidence. If you use a "weighing scale" to compare the evidence between retraction vs. non-retraction, there is an abundance of solid evidence in favor of retraction. That is why the most objective historians have concluded in favor of it. Rizal really retracted.


Note: Below you can find the state of the section in Wikipedia on the Retraction controversy dated Nov 22, 2009 before my first contribution. This reveals the extent of the information (or better misinformation) prevalent at that time:

That his burial was not on holy ground led to issues raised on the veracity of accounts of his 'retraction,' which the Church ever since has been vigorously defending. Many continue to believe that Rizal neither married his sweetheart Josephine Bracken in Roman Catholic rites hours before his execution nor ever retracted those parts of his writings that were anti-Roman Catholic.[32][33]
Those who deny the retraction point out to a revealing clue tucked in 'Adiós', I go where there are no slaves, no hangmen or oppressors, where faith does not kill...[34] Whether this stanza was his final comment on the Catholic Church is a subject of dispute. In most of his writings Rizal maintained that the men of the cloth were the real rulers and the real government. Much of the Church's case rests on claims of a signed retraction, a copy of which could not be produced and shown to the Rizal family despite their repeated requests.
My first edit dated Nov 23, 2009 can be found here.

Breaking News! These one-page leaflets in this blog are going viral around the world. One leaflet was posted in the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London ("The Mother Church of England"), in the Corpus Christi Parish in Canada,  in Kenya and in Macau. To get the full collection, please see this: One Page Leaflets for New Evangelization Going Viral!

Two related articles on the Catholic religion which Rizal reverted to as the rational choice are:

A first rational premise behind that choice is the existence of God. For the rational basis of belief in God, an interesting and quite thorough argumentation is found in Peter Kreeft's Extremely Brief Arguments for God's Existence.

The second rational premise for choosing the Catholic Church is that Jesus, its founder, is God.  To understand the evidence and the logical reasoning behind this statement, please see Is Jesus God?, a post that points to a powerful video based on a bestselling book of a former atheist and to a powerpoint presentation that countered the negative claims of the Da Vinci Code.

If it is rational to acknowledge that (1) God exists, (2) Jesus is God, and (3) Jesus founded one true Church, then isn't Jose Rizal's retraction and return to the Catholic Church the most intelligent of choices? Doesn't the above argumentation show that the Catholic Church is the most evidence-based religion and truly the Religion of the Logos, of Reason

Another relevant article is What Catholics Believe, a one-page summary of the key teachings of the Catholic Faith: Creed, Sacraments, Morality, Prayer and Apostolate.