Grand old University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Philippines’ most ancient institution of higher learning has come out and made a clear and absolute statement on its position on the Reproductive Health Bill through its school paper, the Varsitarian, and it is one that is expected of a Catholic learning institution. In RH bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of lemons and cowards, the Editor issues the following admonition:
UST is a Catholic institution. It is a pontifical institutionâ€”the second to be so named in world history. Nobody should question whether the University supports the Churchâ€™s stand as the Gospel of Christ is USTâ€™sâ€”and any Catholic institutionâ€™sâ€”pillar and foundation.
Professors who are affiliated with UST must respect the stand of the University against the RH bill as they are part of an institution which is fundamentally bound with Catholic faith and teachings. If UST professors donâ€™t agree with the stand of the CBCP, then they have a problem. The bishops are the successors of the Christâ€™s apostles and possess the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church.
Sure. Some online “activists” in their renowned strokes of brilliant originality can dismiss such words as a “depredation on the English language, punctuated by the interloping of dogma and logic.” Whatever. Any bozo can tell you that any attempt to reconcile Catholic dogma with modern peer-reviewed critical thought yields convoluted drivel at best. So, to be fair to some emos out there, the half-arsed attempt of the Varsitarian editor to articulate a consistent underpinning argument for the UST’s position…
Itâ€™s quite shocking that Ateneo and La Salle professors should harbor naive and misguided thinking about health and social problems. How could they argue that an RH measure would be needed to lower maternal mortality when the Philippine government not too long ago had told the United Nations that it was on track to meet the Unesco millennium development goals by 2015, one of which was the lowering of maternal deaths? How could they argue that alleged high mortality must be checked by an RH measure when pregnancy complications are not in the Top 10 causes of women’s deaths? How could they argue that contraceptives which allegedly worth billions of pesos must be given to women to avert pregnancy risks when contraceptives have been known to cause cardiac problems, which are the No. 1 cause of death of Filipino women?
How could Ateneo and La Salle professors dismiss the medically established dangerous side effects of contraceptives when they are not even physicians?
In contrast, UST, which has the oldest and the foremost school of medicine in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, has always warned about the dangerous side effects of contraceptives. UST and her physicians surely know whereof they speak. Theyâ€™re scientists and experts, unlike the Ateneo and La Salle professors who are intellectual pretenders and interlopers!
…falls flat on its face at best, considering that the above all but constitutes a mere wink-wink to invoke the token respect paid to the “academic freedom” that most Catholic insitutions allow its employees.
Quite simply, the real point the UST makes is in this statement here:
It is quite gratifying that UST has cracked the whip and reminded its faculty members that theyâ€™re members of a Catholic institution and should toe the line.
As these professors have chosen to teach in a Catholic university, they must abide by its teachings and beliefs. In the first place, the same is demanded of students.
It’s simple, really.
To be truly free, and to be able to freely and unreservedly express said freedom, you need to first put yourself in a position of not owing anybody anything — not your sources of livelihood, not your sponsors, not the pals you make hobnobbing in blogging contests and social media “conventions”, not the cronies who link back to your blogs and routinely “share” your work on their timelines, and for the most truly courageous amongst us, not the Angel of Death and not the imagined “graces” of a deity.
Indeed, the “heroes” we have become so addicted to celebrating — Jose Rizal and the popular presidential dad — all, as legend goes, submitted their lives at the altar of the ideas they stood for.
For the professors of the UST and other Catholic institutions such as “the” Ateneo de Manila University and, sniff, De La Salle University, their self-imposed aspiration to take a stand for the ideas they are passionate about exacts a far far smaller price: their continued employment.
Anybody can wear a shirt and pump their fists in the air while singing about coming “down from the hill” during a basketball game (not referring, of course, to UST alumni in that instance). But only the truly courageous ones can take their shirts off and continue marching into battle.
[Photo courtesy The Varsitarian.]
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