sunstar.com.ph – Threatening professors of Ateneo de Manila University because of their support for the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill was a violation of the right to academic freedom, a senator said in reply to the Catholic Church’s move to have these teachers investigated for heresy.
“To threaten that these people will be kicked out of the Catholic Church is, in effect, to impose sanctions on the academic freedom well-exercised by Catholics. I doubt very much if what is religious should be allowed to trample or downtrod the academic freedom of all intellectuals in the country,” Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a proponent of the bill, told reporters.
On Monday, Bishop Leandro Medroso said in an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas that the 159 Ateneo professors who signed a statement supportive of the RH bill must be probed especially if they were able to share this to students.
He said sharing concepts contrary to the official teachings of the Church will violate the first principle of Canon law and if found guilty, these teachers may be expelled from Ateneo, an educational institution run by Jesuit priests for 153 years.
Santiago, who once studied theology, said Medroso got it all wrong.
“Only the Pope can dictate, and that is when he categorically claims that he is speaking ex cathedra, in his role as Supreme Pontiff. Meaning to say, if you don’t follow that dogma, then you are no longer a Catholic. But the Pope never exercised that power with respect to reproductive health, or population control, or responsible parenthood,” she said.
Supporters of the RH bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday hit the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for threatening religious schools of losing their Catholic status once they openly support the bill’s passage into law.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. called the CBCP warning “irrational” and exposes the bishops’ hypocrisy. “How come they chastise President [Benigno] Aquino when he expresses his opinion about RH to congressmen but emphasizes it’s a conscience vote and yet threatens to censure educators for expressing free will?” he said in a text message.
The Catholic Church has been the staunchest opponent of the RH bill labeling it as an anti-life measure since it promotes artificial family planning methods.
Some 10,000 people attended the anti-RH prayer rally last August 4 but it failed to stop congressmen allies of President Benigno Aquino III to terminate the debates two days later.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will discuss in plenary the proposed amendments to the bill later this month.
The discussions will coincide with the committee hearings on the P2-trillion national budget asked by the President for 2013.-(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
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