Take stand on RH bill, Catholic educators toldBy Christian V. Esguerra, Dona Z. Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
An official of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the biggest network of Catholic schools in the country, on Wednesday said Catholic educators should take a stand on the RH bill to promote a more rational discussion of the controversial measure.
Catholic universities should encourage their teachers to make “conscience statements” like that made by 192 Ateneo de Manila University professors who came out in support of the RH bill contrary to the church hierarchy’s stand, said Fr. Joel Tabora SJ, president of Ateneo de Davao University who chairs CEAP’s national advocacy commission.
“I would hope that all universities could encourage people to come up with conscience statements like that so that there can be more rationality and more discussion on the RH bill issue,” Tabora said.
“In the context of a Catholic university, this is something that should be considered normal. When people come up with a position, calling forth the position of others, it’s what in a sense a Catholic university is about,” he said.
At a news conference to kick off the CEAP’s three-day national convention, Tabora stressed that Catholic schools are with the bishops in opposing provisions of the RH bill that promote contraceptives and compel Catholics to act against their religious beliefs.
He said Catholic universities “remain faithful” to their mandate to uphold Catholic teachings even as they are also after “sincere rational discussion of civil order in society.”
But stopping discussions on the RH bill will “kill the Catholic university” and “hurt the Church,” Tabora said.
“It’s the mandate of the Catholic university. And if you stop the discussion in the university, you kill the Catholic university, you hurt the Church. In a Catholic university you search for truth,” he said.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denounced the Ateneo professors’ stand and warned other Catholic schools to toe the church line. Ateneo president Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin assured the bishops that the university was opposed to the RH bill.
At the same CEAP news conference, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the CBCP is not after imposing sanctions on pro-RH bill educators in Catholic schools.
“We bishops are not trigger-happy with imposing penalties because … we are first fathers who need to guide and to correct. When there is error that is happening in any section of the people of God, the first thing that we do is to dialogue,” he said.
CBCP officials will be meeting next week to discuss “academic concerns” related to the RH bill during the CBCP’s quarterly permanent council meeting in Manila on September 4.
Meanwhile, the minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday accused the majority bloc of “delaying omnibus referrals of outstanding bills by the rules committee unless and until the discussions of the RH bill are reopened.”
“It is unacceptable to us that important legislation will be held hostage to any single bill, no matter how important it might be to the administration,” said Minority Leader Danilo Suarez reading from a statement. With a report from Jocelyn R. Uy
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