Caritas in Veritate Forum at the Ateneo de Manila University: Justice and Peace and the Reproductive Health Bill

I attended the forum on Caritas in Veritate last Wednessday at the Leong Hall of Ateneo de Manila University.  I arrived at 2 p.m.  There was already three long lines: individuals, religious, and some other classification (students?).  I saw my friend way back in college manning the registration–a woman named Manay.  She gave me a green piece of paper.  It is a color code where you can sit.  I asked her where I can buy a copy of Caritas in Veritate.  She pointed me to a nearby table by Jess Comm (Jesuit Communications).  I bought my copy for Php 115.

The place was nearly full.  I went to the far right, a few seats near in the front.  These are for individuals.  The middle section is for priests.  The back section is for students.  I counted the seats.  It is about 8 x 15 x 3 which is 360 or roughly 400.  The hall is fully packed.  Some are already sitting on the aisles.  Others are standing at the entrance, hoping to get a seat.

Fr. Tagle’s video presentation began.  It is about solidarity with the Farmers.  After this is the talk by Fr. Jojo Magadia, S.J., the provincial of the Philippine Jesuits.  He described what the encyclical is about and what it is for.  He encouraged the audience to read the encyclical.  It is difficult reading, but it has great impact in our lives.   The talk lasted about an hour.

The four panelist were alloted 15 minutes each.  Dr. Cielito Habito of Ateneo de Manila Economics Department discussed his familiar assessment that the Philippine economy is narrow, shallow, and hollow.  He advocated the Bayanihan economy or solidarity.  Mr. Guillermo “Bill” Luz of the Ayala Foundation pointed out that when he read the encyclical, he noticed that many of its recommendations were already implemented by the Ayala foundation.  Business is not only for profit.  Business has a social contract with society.  What the Ayala Foundation wishes to do is to fund projects that does not only make money but also help alleviate the quality of life of many.  One example is the Globe’s telephony selling load to transfer g-cash creates jobs for 600,000 people.  Mrs. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga of the Manila Observatory pointed out the importance of care for the environment in the encyclical.  The Manila Observatory she said used to look to the sky to study the weather.  Now from the sky we look down to the earth using satellites to analyze climate change and variability.  She mentioned the work of IPCC or the International Panel on Climate Change where Fr. Jett Villarin, S.J. is a member.  Fr. Jett was one of those awarded Nobel peace prize together with Al Gore for IPCC.  The last speaker was Bishop Luis A. Tagle who traced the theological background of the encyclical in Pope Benedict XVI’s thought.  Quoting much from Thomas Rouche of Clarion University, Bishop Tagle said that the encyclical is rooted in Pope Benedict XVI’s vision that man is a relational being because man is in made in the image of the Trinity which is a relationship between three divine Persons: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The question and aswer portion was opened.  A priest from the Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation questioned whether do we really need an IRR (implementing rules and regulations) based on the encyclical.  And he mentioned about the poor in the Philippines.  The just living wage he said is between 360 to 375 pesos.  Fr. Jojo responded that the encyclical is a challege.  Efforts must be made to subsidiarity.  Prof. Habito said that the encyclical is a credo for behavior.  Credo is a guide and not necessarily an IRR.  Mr. Luz said that it is left for companies to draw up policies guided by the encyclical.

The second question is by Prof. Cristina “Tina” Montiel, an Ateneo de Manila University faculty who confidently mentioned that she is a supporter of the Reproductive Health Bill.  She said asked that if the encyclical calls for the de-divinization of the State and the Cosmos, should this de-divinization should also be applied to the Church?  Bishop Tagle responded that the equally applies to the Church.  The Church is not God nor claims to be God.  The Church is only obedient to the Trinitarian God.  The truths taught by the Church are gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The Church submits to her Lord.  The Church is the Sacrament of Universal Salvation. Concerning the RH bill, Bishop said that it is sad that the atmosphere is so charged that it is difficult for people to enter into dialogue.  There is an atmosphere of rationality that is not nurtured by divine revelation.  The bishop tells Prof. Montiel that he hopes she understands what he is driving at.

There is another Sr. Pia (?) who also mentioned that she is for the Reproductive Health Bill, but she will not raise the issue.  Sr. Pia asked about the Pondo ng Pinoy.  Bishop Tagle said that Pondo ng Pinoy was conceived by Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales as a means of little acts of kindness.  Everybody can afford 25 cents, even the poor.  The collections do not go to the parish or city where the collection was taken.  Instead, it goes to another place that needs is more.  For example, 200 million went to feeding programs and community value formation.

After the forum ended it is difficult to get to Fr. Jojo Magadia and Bishop Tagle.  Many people wanted to talk to them.  I also lined up because I want to get copies of their speeches, but they have none.  I told Fr. Jojo that he looks good in long sleeve barong, for his usual attire is t-shirt.  And he said, “Oo, nga eh.  Kailangan.”  (Yes, because it is needed.)  And he laughed.

Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, S.J. was also waiting for Bishop Tagle; he wants the bishop to eat something before leaving.  A person told Fr. Nono that this is a very good forum.  The person suggested that Fr. Nono’s Jess Comm would send (sell?) cd’s of the forum to parishes.  Fr. Nono appears open to the idea.


Monk’s Hobbit’s Notes: I think many of the people who went to the forum was expecting a trashing of the encyclical, since Jesuits are perceived to have a critical attitude towards Rome, e.g. the Humanae Vitae and Liberation Theology.  Fr. Roger Haight’s book the “Jesus: the Symbol of God” was given a sympathetic forum at the Loyola House of Studies years before, despite Vatican’s ban on the book.  They think the forum has the same flavor.  This is the reason why I think the persons who asked questions are from the Justice and Peace advocacy group and the supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill.  But they were wrong and they left dismayed.  They got a Jesuit provincial who recommends that everyone should read the encyclical and a Bishop who teaches the truth on the Catholic Faith on matters like the Reproductive Health Bill.  The wind is changing.

I am still trying to decipher my notes on the talks, especially by Fr. Jojo Magadia, S.J.  I shall post it when I am done.


About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

3 Responses to Caritas in Veritate Forum at the Ateneo de Manila University: Justice and Peace and the Reproductive Health Bill

  1. Pingback: A Symposium on Veritas in Caritate at the Ateneo de Manila University « Monk’s Hobbit

  2. Pingback: Caritas in Veritate Forum at the Ateneo de Manila University … graduate university

  3. Weroff says:

    I am newby here :)

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