MANILA, August 27, 2016—The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) cannot revoke the membership of the Ateneo de Manila University (Ateneo) from its organization or nullify its Catholic identity for the “defiance” of some professors from the official stand of the Church with regard to the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, which is pending in Congress.
CEAP president Fr. Gregg L. Bañaga, Jr., C.M. said their organization, wherein membership is voluntary, will only reprimand and impose sanctions on members that failed to fulfill their dues or those whose Catholic titles are revoked by their bishops. Ateneo is currently part of the CEAP’s network of 1,345 Catholic schools nationwide.
“It is only the bishops who can revoke a school’s identity as Catholic but not CEAP. CEAP, for its part, can only reprimand its members if they fail to fulfill their duties like paying their dues, among others,” Bañaga said in an exclusive interview with YouthPinoy.
Bañaga made the clarification in view of the brewing tension between the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Ateneo’s Jesuit administrators for the public endorsement of some Ateneo professors of the passage of the RH bill.
But Bañaga said that CEAP supports the dissenting position of CBCP on the controversial legislation, which seeks to use taxpayers’ money to make artificial contraceptives readily available to the public and to make sex education a mandatory subject to be taught in public and private schools, among others.
“Officially, CEAP supports the bishops because Catholic schools are under the bishops’ leadership. But individually, some of us may differ with them,” he said, apparently referring to Ateneo.
The concurrent president of the Adamson University admitted that some CEAP members do not oppose the RH bill in its entirety and would support amendments to the bill to make it “acceptable.”
“Some support an amended RH bill. Perhaps if we infuse some amendment or alter those provisions that are ambiguous, then the RH bill could be acceptable,” he said.
Although the Catholic Church’s opposition to the use of artificial birth control has not been regarded as “dogmatic,” Bañaga said that the faithful, CEAP member-schools included, “are encouraged to think with the Church.”
Earlier, Ateneo president Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ issued a statement reiterating the Jesuit-run university’s opposition to the passage of the RH bill, after CBCP president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said a Catholic school may be stripped off of its affiliation with the Church if it teaches anything contrary to the official teaching of the Church.
Villarin called the attention of some 192 Ateneo faculty members who have openly supported the RH bill and urged them to continue discerning for the common good. He also enjoined the Ateneo community to “continue its in-depth study of the bill and to support amendments to remove the provisions that could be ambiguous or inimical from a legal, moral and religious perspective.”
Villarin assured the public that “Catholic position on this matter continues to be taught in our classes, as we have always done” in the Ateneo. For his part, Palma said the CBCP is “open to dialogue” with the Ateneo professors, provided that the Ateneo, as a Catholic university, upholds the official teachings of the Church. (YouthPinoy)