Faculty members who are facing possible charges of heresy for supporting a population control bill aren’t getting any sympathy from Ateneo de Manila University.
A day after a ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called for an investigation of Ateneo’s 159 faculty members for purportedly going against Church dogma, their president, Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, said that the university supports the bishops.
“Together with our leaders in the Catholic Church, the Ateneo de Manila University does not support the passage of House Bill No. 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill),” Villarin said in a letter to the Ateneo community posted on the university’s website.
Spectrum of views
“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,” Villarin said.
The university will also support the Church in its future actions should the bill is passed by Congress, Villarin said.
“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.”
Villarin acknowledged that there were members of his faculty who were advocates of the measure pending in Congress. He expressed appreciation for “their social compassion and intellectual efforts” and urged them “to continue in their discernment of the common good.”
Bishop Leandro Medroso, the CBCP’s canon law expert, said the professors’ stand, contained in a statement circulated last week, should be investigated. He noted that educators in Catholic institutions should follow Church teachings inside their classrooms.
The CBCP president, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, also said on Monday that educators in Catholic institution who veer away from Church teachings should leave the school.
In various social media sites Tuesday, Medroso’s statement caused a furor among Ateneo alumni and supporters of the bill, who accused the prelate of infringing on academic freedom.
In issuing the statement of support, Ateneo’s faculty members said the RH bill would provide much-needed maternal and infant health care to all Filipinos regardless of religious beliefs.
“The reality is, despite the Philippines being predominantly Catholic, the majority of Filipinos want the full range of family planning services, including ‘artificial’ contraception,” they said, calling the RH bill “a vital piece of legislation that needs to be passed urgently.”