Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts and Science)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Professor John A. Rees

Second Supervisor

Dr Matthew Tan


The present thesis examines the core issue of how to understand and situate the agency of a religious actor in International Relations (IR). This is investigated through a case study of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in two comparative policy contexts: agrarian land reform and family planning. The CBCP is a permanent institution within the Catholic Church as a collective of the bishops of the Philippines. The research employs analytic eclecticism as the method to integrate select works from four principal scholars: Colin Wight, Adrian Pabst, Atalia Omer and Mariano Barbato. Wight’s tripartite multilayered framework of agency structures the analysis of the case study; Pabst’s metaphysical political realism is employed to supplement the engagement with the religious traditions of the CBCP; the approach to religious traditions and agency is further strengthened by the adoption of Omer’s arguments for a religious self-identification and non-reductionist approach; and Barbato’s seminal concept of multilayered actorness is repurposed in select instances to show the varied kinds of actor the CBCP occupies within and between policy contexts. The constructed analytically eclectic framework is operationalised in the second part of thesis via the Philippine case study. The present thesis makes several original contributions to research knowledge: a) a new application of analytic eclecticism to the study of religion in IR, b) understanding of a particular religious actor in its local and global dimensions and c) an IR analysis of the CBCP in a time of political transition in the Philippines. Taken together, these contributions advance the IR discourse on religion and agency in new ways.