Fr. Nebres is a wise, wise man :)
Statement on Reproductive Health Bill 5043
Yesterday, the Manila Standard had a headline story entitled “Ateneo profs defy bishops, back family planning bill.” The article is based on an October 15, 2008 position paper issued by individual faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila, “Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience.” A shorter version of this position paper is attached.
In reply to a request for clarification from His Excellency Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., President of the CBCP, I wrote him yesterday, October 22, as follows:
First, that “the faculty members clearly state that they are not speaking for the Ateneo de Manila and that this is their personal position.”
Second, that I was asked to respond to this concern a few weeks ago by Archbishop Paciano Aniceto and Bishop Gabriel Reyes and I wrote them on October 2, 2008 regarding our position on the Reproductive Health Bill 5043:
As in all matters that are connected with faith and morals, the Ateneo de Manila, as a Jesuit and Catholic university, stands with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.
I am familiar with the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.
I trust that this will help clarify our position. At the same time, together with the CBCP and the Philippine Province, we favor and encourage honest, sincere and mutually-respectful dialogue on the important issues taken up in the bill.
In my letter to Archbishop Lagdameo yesterday, I also said that several Jesuits would be meeting with the Ateneo faculty members yesterday in a dialogue on this important matter. The dialogue yesterday was forthright and mutually respectful and we pointed out that, while we respect their deep concern for the poor and appreciate our mutual dialogue with them, it is necessary for the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university, to state clearly our position on RH Bill 5043. The position of the Ateneo de Manila is as follows:
1) We appreciate the efforts of these members of the Ateneo faculty to grapple with serious social issues and to draw from Catholic moral teaching in their study of the bill.
2) We acknowledge their right to express their views as individual Catholics and appreciate their clear statement that their views are their own and not that of the University.
3) However, the Ateneo de Manila University does not agree with their position of supporting the present bill. As I said in my letter of October 2 to Archbishop Aniceto and Bishop Reyes, it is “the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.”
We thus have serious objections to the present bill in the light of our Catholic faith.
4) Ateneo de Manila thus stands with our Church leaders in raising questions about and objections to RH Bill 5043.
5) It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity.
6) At the same time, as I also wrote on October 2, we support continuing efforts on the critical study and discussion of the bill among Church groups including the University and in civil society.
BIENVENIDO F. NEBRES, S.J.