Educators who are EMPLOYED by Catholic schools should make a CHOICE


I don’t buy this whole freedom of expression thing when it comes to speaking up about the RH Bill — not if I were employed by an institution of learning that affiliates itself with the Roman Catholic Church. Those outspoken professors enjoy the great pay (as far as educators go) in schools like the Ateneo, La Salle, and UST because those schools are lent credibility and prestige by their being run by members of European religious orders.

I think whoever authored that infamous article on the UST paper Varsitarian had it right when he or she wrote: “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.”

I’m not gonna go into the details of what I think about all that because I think Benign0 already delivered my point really well in his article about it…

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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.

Instead, I will talk about my own experience dealing with the sort of choices these professors should have been considering as employees of Catholic institutions taking a stand for an issue that goes against the grain of their bosses.

At the State University campus where I went to college, there were two big Catholic ogranizations that were in the business of doing Catholic stuff like praying and singing together, going on retreats, organizing masses for this or that occasion, and going to poor barrios to teach grade school kids. One is composed of members that I’d consider (fairly or unfairly) to be more of the, shall we say, “down to earth” sort. The other was populated more by the brat-pack set — graduates of the same prestigious Catholic high schools that currently have their claws out at one another over this whole RH Bill brouhaha.

The former had their tambayan (“hangout place”) at the top of the steps of the university’s Arts and Sciences building, while the latter took residence in some kind of shed near the campus’s iconic Catholic chapel. I spent a lot of time as a guest hanging out with the latter brat-pack org. What college girl could resist? The place was teeming with Atenistas and LaSallistas, and the cars parked around the area were the sorts of cars you wanted to be seen cruising around in while sitting on the passenger seat (for those with crystal-clean untinted windows) or, at least, getting out of (for those with those naughty one-way mirrored tints). I can’t say I’m proud of the criteria I applied when choosing hangouts as a 19 year-old college student, but I was what I was at the time.

So there I was in-between classes (and even after my last class), enjoying the wit of Jake who was good at doing impromptu stand-up comedy in a thick bisaya accent (despite having lived most of his life in Quezon City) and bumming “blue seal” Marlboro Lights from Ramon who belonged to the Makati carpool set, an elite clique of guys and gals who lived in one of a handful of exclusive fortified villages in Makati. In the background there was always at least one dude or another wistfully strumming or picking notes off a guitar. Other guys or girls would be busy struggling to concentrate on their school books and assignments amidst the din of banter and laughter that filled the tambayan (why they didn’t instead study in a library if concentrating on work was supposedly that important was quite obvious).

It was all fun, games, and lots of flirting interrupted every now and then by clear reminders of what the org supposedly stood for. Lots of rituals were religiously (go figure!) observed. The Angelus was prayed every 12 noon, and some kind of rosary-like prayer was chanted at 3 o’clock every afternoon. Grace was said before meals. A crucifix hung from the wall facing the entrance. At about the time classes are dismissed in public schools around the area, some members would make paalam to go to their turo (tutoring sessions).

Personally, I just disappeared whenever the Chapel gang bowed their heads in deference to their token Catholic rituals. Even back then I had already decided that being too Catholic wasn’t my thing. By then, as a sophomore, I was already taking a couple of calculus courses which were beginning to eat big time into my campus free time. So I wasn’t about to blow an hour of my precious but dwindling tambay time on the almost weekly masses these guys attended. There were, after all, other interesting folks to hang around with in other hangouts just a few minutes’ walk away.

Eventually, reality really bit. One of the members of the Chapel gang finally asked me why, since I hung around there so much, don’t I just apply as a member? That’s when the questions hit me. Did I want to be a member of this org? As in, recite the Angelus every noon time, carry around a rosary in my pocket, say grace before meals, go to more than the one mass I trudge into every week (okay, so I still went to Sunday mass — because my mom would’ve freaked out if she found out I would rather not), and go out to stinky “depressed” neighborhoods most afternoons of a school week pretending that that noble task was what being a member of the org was really all about?

I must have mumbled some of those questions out loud at the time (hopefully not the more irreverent of them) because Lala, the girl who asked me if I’d consider applying for membership, quickly assured me: “No, silly, you don’t have to be that into all that. It’ll be fun!”


But I already was having fun as a non-member hanger-on (a sort of parasite I can admit now). Because there was no commitment to the demands of membership. Maybe the fun would still be there as a member, but the required commitments will have one way or another substracted from that fun. The calculus (as mentioned earlier, a subject relevant to me at the time) was simple: the delta of Fun as a function of X as X approached membership was a negative value. There was nothing in it for me and my shallow ways. And even if I took Lala’s advise and not be too “into all that” as a member I thought, hey, life’s too short to be spending time on something you are not too that into.

So I opted out.

These professors can too — if they decide they are not that into toeing the Catholic line.

31 Replies to “Educators who are EMPLOYED by Catholic schools should make a CHOICE”

  1. It is as simple as the drab line, “the terms of employment is determined by the employer.” If these ‘intellectual pretenders’ to use the Varsitarian’s description, are not happy with the terms of their employment, (promote the philosophy/doctrine of the school), they are free to leave and look employment somewhere.

  2. I don’t think it’s that easy. Remember, we are talking about the livelihood of the these teachers, not college life where you can easily opt out if you wanted to. As for the issue with employers determining the terms of employment, when it comes to education, such should not always be applied- otherwise, one risks being left behind by the times. Sometimes, the best teachers are not those who follow the norm simply because they are told to do so.

    1. i agree with wantonman. your circumstances were very different from what you are attempting to draw analogies with. the rh bill is not just a matter of religion, nor is it a mundane decision of whether you want to join an org or not. it is a national concern, and whether catholic or not, you make a stand based on what your conscience dictates.

      remember that we are talking about academicians, so they also expected to make a stand that is based on reason and sound logic.

      should ateneo and la salle dismiss the rogue professors? maybe. however, the heads of these institutions of HIGHER learning would be hypocrites if they do so, and yet continue to take tuition from parents who are pro RH bill. maybe in the next admission, they should add a line in the application to ask if the parents are pro or anti RH bill.

      1. You’re right of course, @polvi2k9. The RH Bill is not just about religion. Unfortunately, the CBCP made it all about religion.

        And so here we are, debating the issue around the notion of the RH Bill being all about religion as a result of the CBCP’s involvement in all this.

        I don’t believe there is anything hypocritical about “taking” tuition from parents who support the RH Bill. These parents also have a choice to enroll their kids in these schools or not. Which means these schools don’t really “take” tuition from them, they receive it.

        If these schools fire these teachers, parents are free to make their own stand as well. In the same way that activists call for boycott of products made by companies they are protesting against, they can also call for a boycott of schools they are protesting against. Ultimately the choice is with the person forking out the dough.

  3. Oh, and on another note, the whole “because those schools are lent credibility and prestige by their being run by members of European religious orders.” provides little to their “popularity” at this point. It’s more of the quality of education as well as the success of its alumni which contribute greatly to their names. Otherwise, any school with the same “administrators” would be as well known as these 3.

    1. Hi wantonman,

      Can you really claim beyond reasonable doubt that it is the quality of the education offered by these schools alone that account for the success of their alumni?

      Could it be that because of the exclusiveness of these schools (owing to their unaffordable tuitions) it is usually the rich and well-connected that can afford to send their kids to these schools, which means these same kids are likelier than the average Pinoy to enter the workforce with the benefit of well-connected parents and friends who can make their “success” relatively more easy to attain?

      Kind of a chicken and egg question I guess. Which came first, the prestige? Or the quality?

      1. i don’t think that was wantonman’s point. to paraphrase him, being a catholic university is not what makes ateneo (or la salle) an enduring academic institution. it is the success of it’s alumni, whether because of connections, the academic training or both.

        you of all people should know, that the quality of education, of it’s alumni and professors is enough for a university to make a name for itself. exclusivity alone will not endure.

        1. @polvi2k9: Perhaps you are right. It is not being a Catholic school per se that made, say, the Ateneo a great school but more the fact that it is run by Jesuits that makes it stand out by a wide margin among all other Catholic schools.

  4. “Even back then I had already decided that being too Catholic wasn’t my thing.”

    Reminded me of myself back in the early 1990s. Back then, I had already decided that being Catholic *at all* wasn’t my thing. I went on to a Protestant church. Although that was a bit complicated since I was studying at Ateneo at the time.



    That exactly is the problem with the younger people these days. All they want is fun, they don’t want to be serious about life.

    1. I suppose it’s a lot easier in anything-goes UP.. 😉

      Re fun, I guess the only time one can really be truly carefree is when your only problem in life is submitting a paper on time or passing subjects in your course’s ‘critical path’. But then as I remember college, those were pretty serious problems to overcome as your whole future career depended on it. So, yeah, there was a lot of serious time involved getting through college for me — which is why every moment set aside for fun was pretty priceless.

  5. Jesuits and de La Salle (person) have opposed the ideals of their respective authorities in the past. I think we can expect them to grant the same privilege to their employees.

    As for those professors and instructors, it’s a little more subjective.
    If they’re just there for the payment, I agree they should resign.

    If they are there for their students, respective schools, or the community of their schools, I think it would be unfair to expect them to resign over a difference in ideals.

    1. I think they did oppose them when there are gray areas. But in this case, Church dogma seems to be pretty clear on its stand on artificial contraception.

      1. That is true.

        But then again, given the context, dissent in minor issues a few centuries ago is more than enough reason to dissolve an order or massacre a village.

  6. I think it would be unfair to require professors and students to abide by or toe the Catholic line. This would be like saying non-Catholics should not teach nor study in a Catholic institution.

    I subsicribe to the freedom of conscience which JPII lovingly espoused. All of us are free to have our own informed opinion. HOWEVER, these professors who made their stand publicly known may have crossed the line. They have embarassed not only the very institutions they serve but also the Catholic heirarchy. They have perverted the values which these institutions promote.

    No one is asking the people to make public whether they are pro- or anti- RH. So I do not understand the purpose and the value-added of their initiative other than for a SHOW.

    And please, spare me with that that show of courage argument… Courage my foot!!!

    1. Yes that’s right. It’s like being in a party. If you know your host is gay, would you speak your mind on the matter if you happen to be homophobic?

      Same with these professors. They are EMPLOYED by a Catholic institution. So maybe they should’ve aired their views in their private time and space rather than in a way that associates it with their employer.

    2. Roi and others who harks on academic freedom

      I think to all Atenista in here I think you should read your MISSION AND VISION of your university and it says

      As a Catholic University, the Ateneo de Manila seeks to form persons who, following the teachings and example of Christ, will devote their lives to the service of others and, through the promotion of justice, serve especially those who are most in need of help, the poor and the powerless. LOYAL to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the University seeks to serve the Faith and to interpret its teachings to modern Philippine society

      caps is mine

      Nuff said

  7. Following are relevant passages in certain documents of the Roman Catholic Church:

    Ex corde Ecclesiae (from the heart of the Church)
    Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 15 August … in the year 1990.

    “PART II
    Article 4. The University Community

    § 1. The responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of the University rests primarily with the University itself … The identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine …

    § 2. All teachers and all administrators, at the time of their appointment, are to be informed about the Catholic identity of the Institution and its implications, and about their responsibility to promote, or at least to respect, that identity.

    § 3. In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching …

    § 4. Those university teachers and administrators who belong to other Churches, ecclesial communities, or religions, as well as those who profess no religious belief, and also all students, are to recognize and respect the distinctive Catholic identity of the University …”

    NOTE: A discussion of the timeline and background of Ex corde Ecclesiae discussed at:

    Also, the following in the Code of Canon Law may be pertinent:

    “BOOK III.

    Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

    Can. 753 Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.”

    1. Ayun! @Joseph and @DomingoArong, that’s all the documentation we need to prove that this outrage fad (with a nod to ChinoF) is nothing but a house built on sand…

    2. Sometimes I wish we had a lot more Protestant colleges here, like the US. Building up the Protestant and other non-Catholic religion’s sectors might do well for this country.

  8. Pope Benedict XVI to Catholic educators:

    “In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church’s munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it.”

    Further the Pope says:

    “Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the DUTY and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.”

  9. The fact that the same “freedom of expression” can already be seen in library holdings (unless the same schools are now removing books and journals that question Catholic views) shows that educators are in the right.

  10. A real great article, Kate!!!

    I am not a complete “connaisseur” of the Philippines but do non-confessional schools exist in the Philippine?

    I think this bruhaha can lead to professors saying to (for instance) a journalist “on the record” I am anti RH, “Off the record” I am pro RH.

    This may sound contradictory and hypocritical but I think the Philippine (educational) system will make professors (and other teachers) act that way while in reality the professors just want to speak their own free mind (if they could without jeopardizing their employment).

    Would I apply as professor at either of the mentioned universities? Yes, why not. It is just a job and I am my own unique entity and personality with my own personal views.

    I have learned that teachers employed by DepEd must be either single or married. DepEd will not allow teachers living together (unmarried). Not sure if this is true but that is what I was told. To add: I was also told that DepEd will check the teachers regurlary. I wonder how. Will they check/post at the gate of my house to see if a female guest will enter my premisses. Can a female geust stay for the night (with or without …..)? If DepEd will check out their teachers than I rather prefer to live in former East Germany with their Stasi.

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