MANILA, August 29, 2014–The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday said it is ‘unfortunate’ that the Department of Education (DepEd) removed the “God-loving” phrase from its vision statement.
CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the Church maintains that the “formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered”.
“Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom,” Villegas said.
DepEd’s old vision statement reads:
“By 2030, DepEd is globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate [sic] and God-loving Filipinos”.
Last year, the department reworded and released its new vision statement:
“We dream of Filipinos who passionately love their country and whose values and competencies enable them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to building the nation”, sparking criticisms from netizens and various lay organisations.
The department, however, retained “Maka-Diyos” as one of its core values.
Responding to attacks, the DepEd said its vision, mission and for values statements “is one document and should be read in its entirety to grasp the full meaning.”
“It is a living document that is meant to reinvigorate our Agency and society as a whole. It is meant to permeate and to affect the way we behave and how we find solutions to complex issues. It is meant to be part of public discourse and personal transformation. It is not static and not intended for mere posting on walls and tables,” it said.
Archbishop Villegas emphasized that the right of a child to recognize and love God “cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not”.
According to him, our pluralistic society “indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to”.
“This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence,” Villegas also said.
“Furthermore, the attitude of our laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as ‘benevolent neutrality’: the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy,” he added.
The bishops exhorted Catholic laity in public elementary and high schools to be zealous in the apostolate of forming pupils and students.
“Do not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full!” said Villegas.
“This, our dear public school teachers, is your particular mission in the life of the Church, the dignity of your calling as evangelizers within the world and its concerns. It is a challenge of particular urgency in this, the Year of the Laity. Stand up for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” he said. (CBCPNews)