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fr. bernas answers bishop reyes & the CBCP : points out where the bishop erred on rh bill

September 9, 2012 2 comments

we have been waiting for the answer of fr. bernas on the 3/4 print ad released by the CBCP and bishop reyes of antipolo. we have marked the important points made by fr. bernas. (click to read: CBCP answers fr joaquin bernas on rh bill via print ad at philippine daily inquirer)

we have a few more:

  • fr. bernas is incorrect when he said this: “Third, the Church teaching on contraception is based not only on Faith or revelation but also on natural law.”  in fact the bishop admits its opposition to the rh bill is NOT based on faith or revelation, ” It is also good to point out that the church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation, although it is confirmed by our Faith.”
  • fr. bernas being a catholic priest is anti rhbill but he is also a professor of law, a constitutionalist, a pinoy and a human being. he answers the bishop being all of those, each one on 20/20 vision.
  • every time fr. bernas writes about the rh bill, he makes us think and reflect on our positions on the rh bill and from which we either confirm or change our positions. the point is fr. bernas always makes us think and reflect no matter what our position is on the rh bill.

CONVERSATION WITH A BISHOP
Fr. Joaquin Bernas S.J.

A couple of days ago Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo diocese, writing under the stationary of the Catholic Bishops Conference, published an ad in the Inquirer and Philippine Star, expressing his disagreement with the views of an unnamed columnist on the merits and demerits of the RH Bill.  The regular readers of my columns in the Inquirer immediately recognized that the Bishop was referring to me. I too recognized it immediately as referring to me.
Not that I object to the reference to me nor to being quoted.  In fact I welcome the bishop’s ad and take it as an invitation to dialogue.  Dialogue among Christians, high and low, is highly encouraged by the Church today.  “In the modern world, the scandal is not that Vatican officials would engage scientists who disagree with church teaching, but rather that such engagement is regarded as taboo.”
The Bishop takes exception to my statement that “the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious beliefs nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.”  The Bishop says that he “would be happy if the (non-abortifacient contraceptives) were banned” but that the Church is only against the state promoting contraceptives and providing free contraceptives to people.
From the bishop’s ad, I gather three points for dialogue. First, the bishop says that now “anyone can buy contraceptives from drugstores or even from ‘convenient stores.’”  Second, (but this is implicit) the state should not use public money to make contraceptives freely available.  Third, the Church teaching on contraception is based not only on Faith or revelation but also on natural law.
Let’s converse about these.
First, on easy availability of contraceptives in drugstores.  The clear implication is that the world is free and anyone can buy these.  This is simply not true.  Only those who have the money can buy them.  Legislators, however, are thinking of the vast majority of poor people who need help to be able to practice responsible parenthood.

ateneo upholding academic freedom : “The university has its own purposes which cannot be subordinated to other objectives”

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Understanding Catholic universities

by: fr joaquin bernas sj

In 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.

CBCP answers fr joaquin bernas on rh bill via print ad at philippine daily inquirer

August 31, 2012 2 comments

this was published as a 3/4 page print ad at today’s philippine daily inquirer on page 11.  it is a direct reaction to the articles that fr. joaquin bernas, a jesuit has been publishing in his column in the same newspaper on the rh bill.

fr. bernas is a prominent filipino jesuit in the country respected and admired by all for being one of the country’s most authoritative on philippine law. fr. bernas teaches law at the ateneo law school and was a member of the constitutional convention that drafted the current constitution of the country. fr. bernas is often called by the courts and other lawyers for his opinion on matters of law.

we have printed here many of the important articles fr. bernas has written on the rh bull. (click here : https://2010presidentiables.wordpress.com/?s=bernas)

this is the first time that the cbcp has directly answered fr. bernas on his views on the rh bill. fr. bernas has been publishing his views on the rh bill for many months now without a reaction from the cbcp. we give an explanation on this “sudden” reply by the cbcp to fr. bernas.

the print ad reply of the cbcp must have been triggered by the recent controversy that is still brewing right now on the ateneo professors’ stand on the rh bill. 192 ateneo professors have recently released a statement saying they support the rh bill and are calling for congress to immediately pass it into law. this is the thrid time that the ateneo professors have released such a statement but this one was different in that a large number, 192 in all have signed on to the statement. the first statement of the ateneo professors only had 60 professors signing up (“catholics can support the th bill in good conscience”)

read relevant articles on the ateneo professors support on the rh bill here: (click to read)

a bigger controversy was sparked when a permanent member bishop of the CBCP called for the ateneo to investigate the ateneo professors for their stand on the rh bill and said that they should be sanctioned, in fact fired from their jobs for their stand. the bishop also said catholic schools that do not teach the stand of the church on the rh bill should lose their “catholic” status.

the very next day the bishop made the threat of removing the “catholic status” of the ateneo and asking for the ateneo to fire the professors from their jobs, fr. jett villarin, president of the ateneo de manila university published an open letter to the ateneo community at the ateneo website.

fr. villarin in his letter did not say the ateneo professors will be given any sanction, will not be fired from their jobs and instead he even appreciated the efforts of the ateneo professors at forwarding their stand on the rh bill. the ateneo president also reiterated that as a catholic school, the ateneo is anti rh bill but respects the individual stand of the professors which was contrary to the university’s stand.

some things on the CBCP statement:

  • we find it strange that the name of fr. bernas is mentioned in this statement posted at the CBCP for Life website but has been deleted in the print ad released at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. we wonder what the reason is for that change.
  • this statement admits the CBCP stand against the rh bill is not based on theology,  “It is also good to point out that the church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation”.
  • it confirms our view that the CBCP’s opposition on the rh bill is based on Humanae Vitae, the encyclical pope paul VI released in 1968. (click to read here: Humanae Vitae encyclical – the catholic church’s basis for it’s stand on birth control)
  • it specifically basses its objection on “natural law”
  • humanae vitae and natural law while talke about by the church are not infallible and not dogma. a pope need to declare a church teaching to be infallible or dogma. no such thing has been done for both.
  • infallible encyclicals or dogma need to be followed by all catholics. it is a sin for catholics not to follow them.
  • since humanae vitae and natural law are not infallible and not dogma, catholics can treat these only as guidelines or food for thought. they have the freedom to follow it or not.
  • the above has been the position of fr. bernas and the ateneo professors.

(note : highlights are mine)

Defense of the Stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill)

Bishop of Antipolo defends the CBCP.

One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why the Catholic Church is against the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill or Responsible Parenthood Bill) is that the bill directs the government to promote contraception and to give free contraceptives to people. According to Father Bernas, SJ (Sounding Board, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 23, 2011), this opposition of the Church is against religious freedom. He says that, because of religious freedom, “the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their beliefs nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief.”

First of all, by opposing the RH Bill, the Catholic Church is not moving for the ban of contraceptives (the non-abortifacient ones), although she would be happy if these contraceptives were banned. At present, in the Philippines, anyone can buy contraceptives from drugstores and even from some “convenience stores”. What the Church is against, I repeat, is that government should promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people. Therefore it is wrong to say that the Church wants the government to “prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief” and that the Catholic churchmen are compelling “President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.” What the church does is to try to convince President Aquino and our senators and congressmen not to enact a law that directs the government to promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people.

It is also good to point out that the church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation, although it is confirmed by our Faith. This church teaching is based on natural law, which we know through natural reason. By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception. All human beings, Catholic or not, are obliged to act according to right reason. By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow. The RH Bill, judged from the principles of natural law, is against the good of the human person and the common good. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its “Doctrinal Note regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life” tells us that all citizens, including Catholics, have the right “to base their contribution to society and political life – through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy – on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good.” In a democracy, any group of citizens has the right to campaign and lobby so that what they consider to be good for the country are enacted into law and what they deem to be harmful for the country are not enacted into law.

Read more…

ateneo president fr villarin ignores bishop, upholds independent thinking and appreciates ateneo professors efforts on rh bill

August 21, 2012 5 comments

in the long held tradition of the ateneo, fr. villarin, ateneo president not only upholds independent thinking but more importantly appreciates the 192 professors who have released a statement of their support on the rh bill. the latter to me was unexpected.

some weeks ago,  the ateneo professors released a statement where 160 of them stated their support for the rh bill, calling for congress to pass the bill. that caught the attention of the rh bill advocates and was one of the most talked about among groups involved on the bill.

then just a few days ago, the same group of ateneo professors released another statement saying an additional 33 professors signed on to their statement of support for the rh bill.

that once again caught the attention of opposing forces on the rh bill debate and this time  included traditional media. it helped that that was the time that president aquino included the rh bill on his SONA and it was causing excitement in congress. the renewed interest and strong publicity of the statement of the ateneo professors supporting the rh bill also caught the attention of the CBCP and a permanent member of it.

CBCP member bishop medroso has said the ateneo professors who aired their support for the rh bill should be investigated to see if they should be fired for teaching the rh bill at the ateneo. the CBCP opposes the rh bill.

bishop medroso says the ateneo being a catholic school should toe the line of the CBCP on the rh bill. according to him by implication, ateneo can lose its recognition as a catholic school and the professors their jobs if they teach their students their support to the rh bill in the classrooms.

as a reaction to the growing and very loud voices on the ateneo professors’ statements,  this letter was released by  fr. villarin. it was released very quickly, just one day after the threat of the bishop was written up in the press.

the letter states that it recognizes the individual stand of the professors in their support of the rh bill and accepts that there are divergent views on the rh bill and the ateneo professors position is one of them.

the most important part is that he does not sanction the ateneo professors for their stand supporting the rh bill which is contrary to the school’s stand and the CBCP. the CBCP bishop was in less than subtle terms wanted the sanction.

read here:

bishop wants pro rh bill Ateneo professors fired – hahahaha – http://wp.me/pnw03-1DB

fr. villarin even goes on to give the ateneo professors encouragement, saying they should “continue in their discernment of the common good“, appreciating the intent the professors stated in their position paper which was to help the poor, saying “I appreciate their social compassion and intellectual efforts“.

we thought that the last part on the “intellectual efforts” was not just a recognition of the high quality work and thinking the professors put into their statement but also a subtle allusion to the quality, or lack of it, of the discourse from anti rh bill proponents.

Church Of The Gesu At The Ateneo De Manila University

it is very clear that in this letter, fr. villarin:

  1. ignores, rebukes and delivers a slap in the face of the CBCP and the bishop who was calling for the ateneo professors to be fired from their teaching jobs at the ateneo
  2. key here is fr. villarin has stated no sanctions of any sort or censure on the ateneo professors. this is the exact opposite of what the cbcp and the bishop wanted
  3. he sees the action of the ateneo professors in a very different light from what the bishop was trying to say
  4. the ateneo agrees to disagree with the ateneo professors as fr. villarin states that the ateneo as a catholic school opposes the passage of the rh bill
  5. respects the opposing view of the ateneo professors and allows them to pursue their views as the professors see fit
  6. states that the school has been teaching in the classrooms the anti rh bill position of the school and the CBCP. this is important as this establishes the CBCP may not sanction ateneo as it is in fact teaching its position.
  7. that sets up the point that the statement released by the professors are indeed just their individual and personal view on the rh bill and thus cannot be sanctioned by the school or the CBCP. fr. villarin has drawn a differentiation between what the professors teach in the classroom and what they say as individuals. the latter goes to freedom of expression and academic freedom.
  8. although obviously unstated, we think fr. villarin is pro rh bill. he just could not say it being the president of the catholic school ateneo. not saying comes within the territory of his job as president of the catholic school he heads.
  9. rather than calling for the non passage of the rh bill, fr. villarin is calling for amendments to the bill.
  10. he also probably thinks the rh bill will be passed, saying that the community should work for making sure no coercion is done in its implementation allowing for people to exercise free will to decide to avail or not avail any of the components of the rh bill.
  11. the  letter shows a very keen appreciation of the pro-poor and pro-people stance of the ateneo professors in their support of the rh bill. we think it is obvious from here that fr. villarin together with the ateneo professors believe and practice in being “man for others”
  12. upholds the ateneo tradition of encouraging, in fact teaching informed independent thinking, inclusive of whether it agrees or disagrees with its own position. this is a tradition in the school. if the students are taught this, why shouldn’t it allow the professors to exercise the same?
  13. we think this one of the strongest statements in that letter : “Nevertheless, Catholic tradition has always taught that reason and faith are not enemies but allies in the service of God’s truth.” reason here refers to the position paper released by the ateneo professors while faith refers to the position of the CBCP, the bishop and the university. he is saying here that they really should not clash or one cancel the other, and that in fact both can be combined to reach the “service of God’s truth”. he is saying both are right and not one is wrong over the other.
  14. in saying both are right and not one is wrong over the other has the effect of siding with the ateneo professors. the previous and original statement released by the ateneo professors had this as the topic : “catholics in conscience can support the rh bill”. (click here: Catholics Can Support The RH Bill In Good Conscience – Ateneo Professors’ Position Paper RH Bill 5043)

clearly, fr. villarin is a man of high intellect with a genuine gift for communicating and words. it is also obvious he has a full understanding of his role, the ateneo professors and the school and its dynamics and core values.  he has done his job well as president of the ateneo.

this is a proud day for ateneo and ateneans.

Memo to the University Community from the President

date posted: 2012-08-21 12:30:09

20 August 2012

Memo to:       The University Community

Subject:          HB 4244

Together with our leaders in the Catholic Church, the Ateneo de Manila University does not support the passage of House Bill 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill).  As many of these leaders have pointed out, the present form of the proposed bill contains provisions that could be construed to threaten constitutional rights as well as to weaken commonly shared human and spiritual values.

Now that the period for amendments is about to begin, I enjoin all in the Ateneo community to continue in-depth study of the present bill, and to support amendments to remove provisions that could be ambiguous or inimical from a legal, moral or religious perspective.

In connection with this, I call attention to the 192 members of our faculty who have grappled with the underlying issues in the context of Catholic social teaching, and who have spoken in their own voice in support of the bill.  Though the University must differ from their position for the reasons stated above, I appreciate their social compassion and intellectual efforts, and urge them to continue in their discernment of the common good.  As there is a spectrum of views on this ethical and public policy issue, I ask all those who are engaged in the Christian formation of our students to ensure that the Catholic position on this matter continues to be taught in our classes, as we have always done.

Should the bill with whatever amendments be passed, we should neither hesitate to bring to the judiciary whatever legal questions we may have nor cease to be vigilant in ensuring that no coercion takes place in implementation.

If there is no easy answer to the concerns that the proposed bill raises or no facile unanimity among divergent views, this only proves the complexity, depth, and sensitivity of these concerns.  Nevertheless, Catholic tradition has always taught that reason and faith are not enemies but allies in the service of God’s truth.  From this tradition, we can draw strength and compassion in our often tortuous journey as persons in community toward the greater glory of God and the service of God’s people.

Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ

President

source: http://www.admu.edu.ph/index.php?p=120&type=2&sec=29&aid=11138

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