That the royal decrees prohibiting trade with the Filipinas are not observed, chiefly on account of the opinion of Doctor Sacedo, a citizen of Mexico, that the violation of royal decrees involves the penalty thereof, but is not a mortal sin. Thus the citizens of Mexico may carry on commerce in the Filipinas, and those of the Filipinas may invest money which is sent to them, without burdening their consciences, or being obliged to make restitution.
The opinion of Doctor Juan de Sacedo, a citizen of Mexico, replying to the decree of January 11, 93, states that this decree does not show clearly, and with the explicit statement necessary, that it was his Majesty’s intention to bind strictly to an eternal punishment those on whom he imposes a pecuniary penalty; or that by its transgression are obligations to make restitution laid, in conscience, ipso jure non expectata judicis sententia, upon the people of Mexico who trade with the islands, or consign their property to citizens of Manila—either goods sent in exchange for the merchandise of the latter, or money which they remit to these—although both of these are prohibited. If these things are conceded, they make a profit and have the means of support. The reply thereto is incumbent upon his Majesty, from whom the decree emanated. Until his Majesty shall make further declaration, the decree is purely a penal ordinance, and nothing more. It involves only the penalty and condemnation to which the transgressor is exposed, and does not burden the conscience with mortal sin or restitution. For that, it is necessary that there be an explicit declaration—one conforming to the most lenient interpretation, which avoids fetters on men’s consciences, and constraining transgressors by only a temporary penalty, and not by restitution or eternal punishment.
The religious Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis at Manila, and the cabildo of the metropolitan church of that city, ask that this matter be adjusted. The religious assert an opinion contrary to the above, saying that a mortal sin is involved. They beg that his Majesty declare his royal will, and provide a person who shall enforce obedience to the royal decrees and punish the transgressors.
The cabildo of the church declares that no one in the islands will be sufficiently powerful to enforce the decrees, unless his Holiness would undertake to decide what the faith teaches, regarding the authority which the mandatory as well as the penal laws possess in this matter. They request, therefore, that effective measures be taken by his Holiness in declaring and deciding the Catholic truth in this particular; and whether it will be a mortal sin to transgress the laws of the kingdom when that which is decreed is something very useful to the commonwealth.