ateneo upholding academic freedom : “The university has its own purposes which cannot be subordinated to other objectives”
Understanding Catholic universities
by: fr joaquin bernas sj
Philippine Daily InquirerIn discussing Catholic universities one must begin with Canon 808 of the Code of Canon Law which says: “Even if it really be Catholic, no university may bear the title or name Catholic university without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.” In that technical juridical sense, the Ateneo and almost all other institutions in the Philippines, save one perhaps, which are publicly regarded as Catholic, are not in juridical terms Catholic. But are they Catholic in any other sense?
Even Canon 808 suggests that institutions which do not have the ecclesiastical title of Catholic can in fact be “really Catholic.” The appellation of Catholic can come from various sources. It can come, for instance, from its origins as founded by various religious orders of men and women. That in fact is how most Catholic institutions in the Philippines started. The appellation also comes from what in fact they do. For this reason these institutions are recognized as affiliated with the Church even if not “canonically Catholic.”
It must also be said that a canonical title is not the litmus test for being truly Catholic. Pope John Paul II in fact looks for more in a Catholic university. In a speech before Catholic universities in the United States, both canonically recognized and not, he said:
“A Catholic university or college must make a specific contribution to the Church and to society through high-quality scientific research, in-depth study of problems, and a just sense of history, together with the concern to show the full meaning of the human person regenerated in Christ, thus favoring the complete development of the person. Furthermore, the Catholic university or college must train young men and women of outstanding knowledge who, having made a personal synthesis of faith and culture, are both capable and willing to assume tasks in the service of the community and of society in general, and to bear witness to their faith before the world. And finally, to be what it ought to be, a Catholic college or university must set up, among its faculty and students, a real community which bears witness to a living and operative Christianity, a community where sincere commitment to scientific research and study goes together with a deep commitment to authentic Christian living.
“This is your identity. This is your vocation. . . . The term ‘Catholic’ will never be a mere label, either added or dropped according to the pressures of varying factors.”
Briefly, a Catholic university is not just an institute for teaching catechism.
Further, in the same speech, John Paul II emphasized the importance of academic freedom: “As one who for long years have been a university professor, I will never tire of insisting on the eminent role of the university, which is to instruct but also to be a place of scientific research. In both these fields, its activity is deeply related to the deepest and noblest aspiration of the human person: the desire to come to the knowledge of truth. No university can rightfully deserve the esteem of the world of higher learning unless it applies the highest standards of scientific research, constantly updating the methods and working instruments, and unless it excels in seriousness, and therefore in freedom of investigation.”
It is in this context that Fr. Jose “Jett” Villarin has defended what the Ateneo professors have been doing. At the same time, this is the measuring rod according to which Ateneo professors, and other professors of Catholic universities, must examine their individual consciences. Similarly, those who criticize them must meet them in the context of the field of expertise from which they write and not only in the limited context of the Baltimore Catechism.
One might also ask, is Father Jett being faithful to the teachings of the Society of Jesus? We Jesuits tend to disagree among ourselves about almost everything. As an Italian saying goes, Tre Jesuiti, quattro opinioni. Perhaps cinque or even more. But I think if we surveyed the opinion of Jesuits in school work we will find them overwhelmingly in agreement with the words of the superior general of the Jesuits, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach in an address titled “The Jesuit University in the Light of Ignatian Charism.” He said: “Far be it from us to try to convert the university into a mere instrument of evangelization or, worse still, for proselytizing. The university has its own purposes which cannot be subordinated to other objectives. It is important to respect institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and to safeguard personal and community rights.” Father Kolvenbach goes on to insist that there is no inherent schizophrenia in the identity of a Jesuit college or university. “In a Catholic university, or one of Christian inspiration, under the responsibility of the Society of Jesus, there does not exist—nor can there exist—incompatibility between the goals proper to the university and the Christian and Ignatian inspiration that should characterize any apostolic institution of the Society of Jesus.”
Father Jett told me at supper that Archbishop Chito Tagle, at the wake for Jesse Robredo, condoled and commiserated with him (probably with a wink!) as he parries the slings and arrows coming his way from “loyal Catholic catechists.” Jett can take it. He is young and was valedictorian of the same Ateneo college batch as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
this news is probably what got the bishop’s goat on the ateneo professors – an additional 33 professors added their names to supporting the rh bill. what probably got the bishop riled is that the ateneo is a catholic school on top of being one of the country’s top universities and the number of professors supporting the rh bill has grown.
with the bishop threatening to get them fired, the number of ateneo professors supporting the rh bill will probably increase even more.
More Ateneo profs endorse RH Bill
August 19, 2012 8:26 AM
More faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila University have signed on to a statement in support of House Bill 4244, or The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill.
Thirty-three professors added their names to the statement, again stressing that they took their position as individuals, and that they are “in no way speaking for the Ateneo de Manila University, the Society of Jesus, or the rest of their colleagues.”
In updating its list of signatories, Prof. Marita Concepcion Castro Guevara, on behalf of the other signatories, said they had taken out one name erroneously included in the original list of statement endorsers.
“One name was included in error,” Prof. Guevara said. “We apologize to Mr. Arturo A. Valencia for including his name, as he has not indicated any intention to support the RH Bill. We further apologize for whatever misperception and misunderstanding this may have caused to the person of Mr. Valencia and to the organizations to which he belongs.”
In all, with Mr. Valencia’s name taken out, and with the 33 additional endorsers, 192 of Ateneo’s faculty members have now signed the statement, which InterAksyon.com had published earlier here.
The updated signatories list now reads as follows:
- Marita Concepcion Castro Guevara, PhD, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
- Marlon J. Manuel, JD, Ateneo Law School
- Amparita S. Sta. Maria, LL.B., LL.M, Ateneo Human Rights Center, Ateneo Law School
- Joy G. Aceron, MPA, Ateneo School of Government, and Department of Political Science
- Mario C. Villaverde, MD, MPH, MPM, Ateneo School of Government Read more…
the rhetoric on the rh bill and the ateneo de manila professors just got raised a few levels up with a bishop medroso saying the ateneo professors who are pro rh bill should be investigated and should be fired from their jobs if they are giving “instructions” contrary to the catholic church’s teachings, the rh bill in particular. the catholic church is against the rh bill.
good luck to the bishop on that one. the statements of the ateneo professors have been released on the basis of what they say there as their individual and personal view on the rh bill and not of the university nor does it say it is what they teach in the classrooms of the ateneo. the disclaimer is written on the first few paragraphs of the statement the professors released.
there are few grey areas on the threat of the bishop.
professors and doctors who teach at the ateneo medical school will need to teach about modern methods of contraception. it is part and parcel of any lesson on reproductive health and obstetrics. all ob-gyn doctors should know this. will the doctor teachers covering the topic be fired from their jobs?
an economics professor for example can cover the topic of population as it relates to economic theories. population and family size is a key component of the rh bill discussion, will these professors be fired too?
when students bring up the topic of rh bill during class discussion, should the teacher refuse to discuss it?
read the statements of the ateneo professors here:
160 Ateneo De Manila University Professors declare support for the RH Bill - http://wp.me/pnw03-1Cy
Catholics Can Support The RH Bill In Good Conscience – Ateneo Professors’ Position Paper RH Bill 5043 - http://wp.me/Pnw03-2q
we think that as long as the professors say in class, to their students that the school as a whole is anti-rh bill, the professor and students can proceed to discuss everything and anything about the rh bill. college education is all about discourse on the two sides of any issue or topic.
the ateneo classroom in particular is known for such discourse. one of the cornerstones of an ateneo education is informed independent thinking. building independent thinkers is one of the most cherished goals of an ateneo education.
good luck to changing the very core of what the ateneo education is all about.
MANILA, Philippines—It’s not exactly an inquisition but 159 members of the Ateneo de Manila University faculty may face investigation, and sacked if found guilty.
Bishop Leandro Medroso, in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas on Monday, called for an investigation of the Ateneo faculty members who signed a statement declaring support for the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill being pushed by the Aquino administration in Congress.
Medroso, the permanent council member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Canon Law, said the university should make sure that the teachers who endorsed House Bill No. 4244 have not been teaching concepts against Church laws.
“That has to be investigated. The first principle of Canon law about this matter is that we don’t allow teaching that is against the official teachings of the Church. Now, if there is somebody who is giving instructions against the teachings of the Church, then they have to investigate immediately,” Medroso said.
HUMAN RIGHTS, STATE OBLIGATIONS, AND THE RH BILL
Declaration of Support for House Bill 4244
(The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill)
by individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University
We, the undersigned individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, declare our strong support for House Bill 4244, the consolidated Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill (or RH Bill). We are heartened by the recent move of the House of Representatives to terminate the protracted debates and interpellations on this bill which has languished in Congress since 1999.
We urge our legislators to act swiftly and judiciously on the proposed amendments to the bill, and thereafter vote for its passage. We issue this call in our individual capacities as educators, researchers, medical doctors, lawyers, and citizens, and in no way speak for our University, the Society of Jesus, or the rest of our colleagues.
As members of the academe who value academic freedom and responsibility, we wish to put knowledge at the service of national development goals that promote the wellbeing of the majority of our people. In so doing, we seek to ground our claims on the current scientific consensus and empirical evidence, including the lived experience of the poor and marginalized.
We recognize that others who do the same may arrive at a position contrary to ours; however, we view the ability to hold and express divergent opinions on an issue as a sign of a vibrant academic community. Having read and studied HB 4244 (the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill) as well as the proposed amendments by the bill’s authors, we conclude that it is rights-based; supportive of State obligations to protect and promote health under the Philippine Constitution and international covenants and conventions; and in accordance with what Filipinos want, the vast majority of whom consistently say in surveys that they support the RH Bill.
Most important, the RH Bill is an equity measure that aims to reduce differential access to reproductive health and family planning services and information. It is the poor—and in particular poor women and their children—who stand to benefit the most from the passage of this bill. And should not the poor be the focal concern of any social institution, be it religion, education, or the government? State obligations, RH rights We commend President Benigno S. Aquino III for remaining steadfast to his campaign promise of “recognizing the advancement and protection of public health, which includes responsible parenthood, as key measures of good governance” (item 4 in his Social Contract with the Filipino People).
Despite intense pressure from Catholic bishops and other groups who vigorously oppose the RH Bill and are campaigning for its defeat in Congress, President Aquino in 2011 endorsed the Responsible Parenthood Bill (popularly known as the Reproductive Health Bill) as among his administration’s priority measures, and reiterated the need for responsible parenthood in his State of the Nation Address last July 23, 2012.
We are likewise heartened that members of his Cabinet stand solidly behind the President in supporting the RH Bill. These include the 20 agencies under the Human Development and Poverty Reduction (HDPR) Cabinet Cluster such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the National Economic and Development Authority, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, and the Philippine Commission on Women, among others. After a decade of neglect of state support for family planning services (except for natural family planning [NFP]) under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which adopted an NFP-only policy, President Aquino’s endorsement of a comprehensive framework for reproductive health initiatives is not only welcome but also long overdue.
Indeed, it is the obligation of the State, as primary duty-bearer, to provide information on and access to the full array of medically safe, effective, and legal family planning services in order to enable women, men, and couples—especially among the poor—to plan the number and spacing of their children. Government budgetary support for modern family planning methods (which include NFP and “artificial” contraception) is neither unconstitutional nor a breach in good governance (a form of “corruption,” according to some bishops).
In the same way that the State is obligated to provide free basic education in public schools for the poor, so should it make information and services on family planning and reproductive health available to those who cannot afford these services.
we are highlighting this position paper released by ateneo professors on the RH BIll. we think it is important that catholics read this position paper.
Statement of the Ateneo Psychology Department about the second fabricated psychiatric evaluation of Sen. Benigno C. Aquino III
date posted: 2010-04-27 20:51:05
On 9 April 2010, the Ateneo Psychology Department issued a statement regarding the psychiatric evaluation which was allegedly signed by Fr. Carmelo (Tito) Caluag who was claimed to be a faculty of our Department in 1996. In our response, we said that the document is false; that Fr. Caluag is not a psychologist or a psychiatrist and has never been affiliated with the Ateneo Psychology Department.
Today, 27 April 2010, another fabricated psychiatric evaluation has circulated in the news, allegedly written and signed in 1979 by our founder and current professor, Fr. Jaime C. Bulatao, SJ. Fr. Bulatao has earlier released his response, categorically denying that he has written and signed that report. The Ateneo Psychology Department once again categorically states that this “psychiatric evaluation” is a fabricated document.
We strongly condemn these repeated attempts to use the Ateneo Psychology Department for black propaganda. When the first fabrication did not work because of the mistake of choosing a signatory ( i.e., Fr. Tito Caluag) who has never been affiliated with our Psychology Department, the same scheme was thought of, this time using our most esteemed Fr. Jaime C. Bulatao, SJ. These acts of malicious falsifications should be stopped once and for all!
We hope that this is the last time that the name of the Ateneo Psychology Department will be dragged into the malicious misinformation campaign about the alleged mental condition of Senator Benigno C. Aquino III.
Department of Psychology
School of Social Sciences
Ateneo de Manila University
27 April 2010
It has come to our attention that a psychiatric evaluation of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.*, supposedly conducted by the Ateneo de Manila University Psychology Department in 1996, is being circulated in the Internet and other media. The Psychology Department would like to correct this fallacious information. The document is false; no faculty member or other professional affiliated with the Psychology Department has ever conducted a psychiatric assessment of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.* Moreover, Fr. Carmelo A. Caluag, whose name appears as the signatory in the psychiatric evaluation form, is not a psychologist or psychiatrist and was never affiliated with the Psychology Department. The Department denounces this attempt to vilify a person’s character through the spreading of false information.
School of Social Sciences
Ateneo de Manila University
8 April 2010
Note: * Benigno Aquino, Jr. is Benignoy “Noynoy” Aquino III