The book places the exchange (1892-1893) within the larger battle between the Enlightenment and Roman Catholicism. Eschewing the polemicism that has often attended treatment of Rizal’s conflict with the Church, the author offers a fresh critique from perspectives afforded by Vatican II and by distance in time.
The work traces and documents the historical development of Rizal’s religious thought from his youth to the years of exile in Dapitan. The author examines the various intellectual influences on Rizal from the Enlightenment philosophers, the Spanish Krausists, and other liberal thinkers, and relates these to Rizal’s view of Catholicism and political options regarding the emergent Filipino nation. Pastell’s failure to convince Rizal is attributed to the weaknesses of nineteenth century Catholic apologetics, as well as to the apologist Pastells, who little appreciated the legitimacy of Rizal’s politics.
The English translation of the Correspondence affords the modern reader access to the debate on burning religious questions, which in the late nineteenth century, were inextricably linked with political and social issues.