RH Bill and the Catholic University

The Varsitarian editorial, RH Bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of Lemons and Cowards, has been criticized because there is no byline. But editorials have no bylines. Check out Inquirer and Philippine Star. This is not an act of cowardice but a journalistic tradition, because editorials are “newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors or publishers.” The editorial was also criticized because of some grammatical lapses or its arrogance. But we may be missing out on the true issue here, in the same way as we focus on Sen. Sotto’s plagiarism rather than on his allegations that international pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood are funding the RH Bill lobby. The real issue is this:


There is something universal about a university.  Universitas is a Latin word which may refer to the “whole, total; the universe, the world.”  Originally, universitas refers to the community of scholars and teachers (Universitas magistrorum et scholarium) housed under one roof, so to speak.  And these scholars and teachers study everything there is to know about man and the universe–physical, spiritual, social, political, etc.–all spheres of human existence.

There is also something universal about the word “Catholic.”  The word kataholos in the time of Ignatius of Antioch was already used to distinguish Christians “who believed and practiced according to what body of Christians as a whole did, in contrast to what some particular group thought or did.”  Notice the word whole which is synonymous to all.  This definition reminds us of the Commissioning of the Apostles by Christ just before His Ascension:

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Mt 28:18-20)

All power, all nations, all commandments, always.  Such is the universality of the Catholic Church’s mission.

Now we have two institutions, each claiming a sense of universality: the University and the Catholic Church.  If the two institutions are in harmony, the phrase “Catholic University” stands.  But if the they are in conflict, then the lesser must be absorbed by the greater.  So I propose the following definition:

A Catholic University is a university that puts primacy on Catholic Theology among all fields of knowledge.

Against this statement, the proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill enumerate at least four objections:

  1. Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities
  2. The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with academic freedom
  3. The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with the primacy of conscience
  4. The key principles of the RH Bill are compatible with Catholic Theology

I shall respond to each of these objections individually.  For the first objection, I shall discuss St. Aquinas’s argument on the nobility of Catholic Theology among all sciences.  For the second objection, I shall discuss Chesterton’s map of the maze of human knowledge and errors.  For the third objection, I shall quote other lines from the Catechism regarding conscience and how it may err in its judgment.  For the fourth objection, I shall discuss Chesterton’s image of the creed as a key.  I shall end the paper with a postcript on obedience to bishops as a test of Catholic orthodoxy by quoting St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Along the way, I shall quote several encyclicals: Humani Generis, Humanae Vitae, and Ex Corde Ecclesiae.  I hope this paper will encourage others to engage in philosophical and theological dialogue regarding the RH Bill and the nature of the Catholic university in a more calm and sober manner with mutual respect.

OBJECTION 1: Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities

Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities. Therefore, Catholic doctrine taught in theology is just one of the many scientific opinions, so that in the case of the RH Bill, for example, if there is conflict between the conclusions of economics and theology regarding the use of contraceptives, a professor in a Catholic university can equally choose to side with the economic argument or with the theological argument, because one argument is equally as good as the other as they are both products of human reason. This means that even if the Church hierarchy (the CBCP) or the Pope declares that contraception is intrinsically wrong and should be condemned, a Catholic professor can dismiss these teachings if he finds what for him are weightier justification for the use and promotion of contraceptives, such as population explosion, too many children to feed, or women’s right over their bodies, etc.


Catholic Theology is indeed a science.  In Science, truth may either be what is known to be true (postulates or axioms or laws) or whatever is deduced from these (theorems). For example, in Physics Kepler’s law that describes the elliptical orbit of the planets around the sun may be thought of as a theorem of a more fundamental law: Newton’s Law of Gravitation. Similarly, in Catholic Theology, doctrines are deduced from two sets of axioms: Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition.  The summary of Catholic doctrines is published in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

But the axioms in philosophical sciences–which we have to accept by faith until proven wrong–are not certain.  For example, remove the parallel postulate in Euclidean geometry and you arrive at intersecting parallel lines in spherical or projective geometry.  Also, though Newton’s Law of Gravitation can predict many things, Einstein’s General Relativity can predict more things, such as the precession of Mercury’s perihelion and gravitational lensing.  Scientists are continuously revising theories as they search for the the ultimate Theory of Everything (TOE), the one equation that shall rule them all: the structure of the universe, its beginning, and its end.

Unlike the axioms in philosophical science, the axioms of Catholic Theology are certain, because God has revealed them Who can neither deceive nor intend to deceive.  In this sense, Catholic Theology is nobler than other sciences.  Aquinas has more to say on the nobility of Catholic Theology (Sacred Sciences) in his Summa Theologiae:

“Since this science is partly speculative and partly practical, it transcends all others speculative and practical. Now one speculative science is said to be nobler than another, either by reason of its greater certitude, or by reason of the higher worth of its subject-matter. In both these respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of divine knowledge, which cannot be misled: in point of the higher worth of its subject-matter because this science treats chiefly of those things which by their sublimity transcend human reason; while other sciences consider only those things which are within reason’s grasp. Of the practical sciences, that one is nobler which is ordained to a further purpose, as political science is nobler than military science; for the good of the army is directed to the good of the State. But the purpose of this science, in so far as it is practical, is eternal bliss; to which as to an ultimate end the purposes of every practical science are directed. Hence it is clear that from every standpoint, it is nobler than other sciences.”  (Part 1, Question 1, Article 5)

Unless we can prove that Aquinas made a mistake in his argument, then we have to agree to his conclusion:

From every standpoint, Catholic Theology is nobler than other sciences.

If this statement is true, then we arrive at the following statement:

A Catholic University must uphold the primacy of Catholic Theology among all sciences.

Hence, a Catholic University must be institutionally faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  This is explained in detail in Ex Corde Ecclesiae of John Paul II:

27. …. One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Catholic members of the university community are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with all that this implies. Non-Catholic members are required to respect the Catholic character of the University, while the University in turn respects their religious liberty(26).

28. Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic Universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity, including the protection of their Catholic identity in relation to civil authorities. This will be achieved more effectively if close personal and pastoral relationships exist between University and Church authorities, characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation and continuing dialogue. Even when they do not enter directly into the internal governance of the University, Bishops “should be seen not as external agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic University”(27).

Thus, for example, if a Biologist will say that man has many ape-like ancestors and that there could be many Adams and Eves, putting the whole plan of salvation and the Sacrifice of Christ to naught, then it is the duty of Catholic University to uphold the Catholic teaching on our first parents as expressed in Humani Generis of Pius XII:

37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

Similarly, if Economists propose the promotion of contraception through the RH Bill as a vehicle for economic prosperity, then it is the duty of the Catholic University to uphold the Catholic teaching on contraception as expressed in Humanae Vitae of Paul VI:

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

OBJECTION 2: The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with academic freedom

The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with academic freedom.  Professors should be free to teach whatever truths they have obtained through years of scholarly research.  What does the study of galaxies and viruses have to do with Catholic theology?


Professors in Catholic Universities are free to pursue any field of knowledge in so far as they do not trespass on Catholic doctrine in the same way as school children are free to roam around the school as long as they respect the proper boundaries: they cannot disturb other classes; they must be in their classroms during class hours; they cannot enter faculty rooms without permission; they must be silent at the library or in the chapel; and they must not jump over the fence during school hours.  That is why a school map is useful, because it defines the boundaries of the school and the freedoms associated with each school area.  In a similar way, the Catholic Church also has an amazing map of human knowledge that “looks like a maze but is in fact a guide to the maze”–locating where men are free to engage in idle speculation and where discussion is off-limits.  Chesterton says it best in his essay, Why I am Catholic (1926):

The truth about the Catholic attitude towards heresy, or as some would say, towards liberty, can best be expressed perhaps by the metaphor of a map. The Catholic Church carries a sort of map of the mind which looks like the map of a maze, but which is in fact a guide to the maze. It has been compiled from knowledge which, even considered as human knowledge, is quite without any human parallel.

There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them.

On this map of the mind the errors are marked as exceptions. The greater part of it consists of playgrounds and happy hunting-fields, where the mind may have as much liberty as it likes; not to mention any number of intellectual battle-fields in which the battle is indefinitely open and undecided. But it does definitely take the responsibility of marking certain roads as leading nowhere or leading to destruction, to a blank wall, or a sheer precipice. By this means, it does prevent men from wasting their time or losing their lives upon paths that have been found futile or disastrous again and again in the past, but which might otherwise entrap travelers again and again in the future. The Church does make herself responsible for warning her people against these; and upon these the real issue of the case depends. She does dogmatically defend humanity from its worst foes, those hoary and horrible and devouring monsters of the old mistakes.

In the case of the RH Bill and contraception, the Catholic Church has already mapped out the roads and the cliff awaiting us if such a bill is going to push through: loss of respect for the woman, destruction of the family, and government’s interference in married life.  All these are described in Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae:

17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Humanae Vitae saw with clarity in 1968 the grave consequences of adoption of contraception, especially its elevation by the government into a national policy.  Let us take two countries, for example, USA and Singapore:

  • In the USA, the Birth Control Movement started with  Margaret Sangers in 1914.  The 7th Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion approved birth control in 1930.  Griswold of Planned Parenthood challenged the anti-contraception law of Connecticut which led to US Supreme Court’s declaration of unconstitutionality of the Connecticut law in 1965, citing the right to privacy of couples.  The Griswold v. Connecticut ruling was only for legality of the use of contraceptives by married couples.  In 1972, this ruling was extended in Einstadt v. Baird to unmarried couples as well.  (Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.)  In 2003, the ruling was again extended in Lawrence v. Texas to homosexual unions, thereby repealing the anti-Sodomy law in Texas as unconstitutional. Last Aug 1, 2012, Obamacare mandated inclusion of contraceptives in insurance takes effect.  This contraceptive mandate exempts Churches and Houses of Worship, but not Christian charities, Christian hospitals, and Catholic Universities.
  • In Singapore, family planning was introduced by volunteers in 1949.   In 1966, the Parliament established the National Family Programme which provides clinical services and family planning education.  In 1970 Lee Kuan Yew started the Stop at Two campaign with the legalization of sterilization and abortion.  Parents who did not abide by the two-child limit were penalized with taxes, higher hospital costs, and less opportunities in housing and education.  In 1975, the fertility rate dropped below the replacement rate.  In 1983, Lee noted the seriousness of the problem that women with educational degrees do not become mothers.  In 1984, the government established the Social Development Unit (nicknamed “Fat, Desperate, and Ugly”) that promoted dating among men and women with university degrees. In 1986, the government abolished the Stop at Two program and promoted Three or More (If You Can Afford It). Last Aug 11, 2012 Lee changed his decades-long policy and advocated marriage and more babies for Singaporeans. He said: “Do we want to replace ourselves or do we want to shrink and get older and be replaced by migrants and work permit holders? That’s the simple question.”

And now the Philippines wishes to take the same path as US and Singapore by trying to make the Reproductive Health Bill into a law.  The Catholic Church has seen the road that this bill will lead to as guided by her Teaching Authority and the evidence of others who went down on this path, such as USA, Singapore, and many other countries.  And this is why the Catholic Church is against the RH Bill.

Man is like sheep: his vision is limited only to what is immediately in front of him.  Man lives only for a few decades and his experiences does not span all human experiences across all places and times.  So his judgment is limited, even if he were a genius like Einstein.  Like a sheep who cannot see farther ahead–a pool of water, a green pasture, a cliff, or a wolf –man needs a shepherd.  He needs God as his shepherd, because God knows everything and He created the world and man himself.  Only God knows what is good for man.  As David would sing in one of his Psalms:

The LORD is my shepherd;*there is nothing I lack. a2 In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me;3b he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths* for the sake of his name.4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,c I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. (Ps 23:1-4)

But Christ is God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  Christ built His Church on Peter (Rock) with the gift of special revelation from the Father, with indestructibility, and with the power of binding and loosing:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt 16:17-19)

Thus, if the Catholic Church declares contraception as intrinsically wrong, a teaching binding on all the Catholic faithful, then we can bet with our life that the Church does speak the truth and that this teaching is ratified in heaven.

Christ is the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1-6).  And Christ shared his ministry to Peter: feed His lambs, tend His sheep, and feed His sheep as a sign of his total love for Christ (c.f. Jn 21:15-17).  Christ appointed the apostles  to act as Judges of the Church: “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28).  He also appointed 72 disciples as his ambassadors: “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Lk 10:16).  Such apostolic ministry is continued to this day by the Pope and the bishops and priests united with him.

OBJECTION 3.  The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with the primacy of conscience

The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with the primacy of conscience. As the Catechism says:

1776 “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”

1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

Thus, if a Catholic professor claims that he is only following his conscience in supporting the RH Bill, then the Catholic Church cannot judge him that he is wrong, since conscience is the voice of God Himself.


Because the objection quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we must also turn to the same Catechism for our response.  Articles 1776 and 1782 constitute only half of the picture.  The other half are as follows:

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.”59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

Thus, the Catechism says that conscience can err.  An Aztec emperor offering human sacrifice to the gods to bring rain to the parched fields is obeying his conscience.  A Nazi officer obeying the commands of Hitler to exterminate all Jews is obeying his conscience.  A woman who aborts her baby because she is still young and cannot afford to raise the child is obeying her conscience.  And the couple who uses condoms and pills because having children are burdensome are obeying their conscience.  If one elevates the voice of what people believe to be their conscience as the standard for truth, then truth becomes relative depending who says so, because  each one defines for himself what is good and what is evil.  Isn’t this what Satan, in the form of a serpent, told Eve in the Garden of Eden?

You certainly will not die!5 God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil. (Gen 3:4-5)

If men were left alone to their own consciences, the world will never know what is truly good and truly evil.  Let us take the Library as an analogy.  If the librarian does nothing and students get to decide for themselves where the best place for each book should be–on the floor, on the table, or on the shelf–then the library would be in chaos.  The state of disorder of the library can never decrease, and can actually increase, as the Law of Entropy states.  That is why a librarian is needed to put order in the books and impose rules: keep quiet when you are in the library and don’t return the books to the shelf but leave them on your desks.  Only the librarian has the shelving authority to put the books back in their proper places.

In a similar way, the morals of men will become highly disordered if men were left to themselves.  That is why God intervened in history and made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).  He chose the people of Israel to be His own and gave them the Ten Commandments.  He also established the Levitical priesthood to offer sacrifices in atonement for sin.  God appointed judges to interpret his laws; no one is allowed to hop from one judge to another in search for a favorable ruling.  But Israel rejected God by asking for a King like other nations.  God gave them Saul, but Saul was disobedient.  So God made David a King and promised him an everlasting Kingdom.  But the kings after David worshiped heathen idols, so God sent prophets to remind them of His covenant with  Israel at Sinai: He is their God and they are His people.  But Israel must obey God’s voice.  Yet Israel killed many of the prophets.  So in the fullness of time, God sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  And God Himself became the teacher of Israel.  He healed their infirmities, fed them in the wilderness, and established His Church as the New People of God, opening the doors of the Church not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles.  He gave His Church the Sacraments to sanctify nations and the Teaching Authority to teach in His Name.  And for nearly 2,000 years the Catholic Church that Christ founded continued to exist throughout history, a witness to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the conversion of the barbarian nations of Europe, the conquest of Islam, the Age of Discovery, the formation of modern republics, the rise of Communism, the two World Wars, and the present age.   Christ fulfilled His promise that He will always be with His Church and His Church will never fall into error.  And the Church through the Ages has never failed to teach what is truly good and what is truly evil, even if the world does not wish to hear Her message, even as the world does not anymore see Her relevance, as what we have now today.

OBJECTION 4.  The key principles of the RH Bill are compatible with Catholic Theology

“As faculty of a Catholic university, we believe that the key principles of the RH Bill—promotion of reproductive health, subsidizing the health needs of the marginalized and vulnerable, guarantee of the right to information and education of adults and young people alike,respect for the freedom of choice of individuals and couples in planning their families—are compatible with core principles of Catholic social teaching, such as the sanctity of human life,the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor, integral human development, human rights, and the primacy of conscience. Responding to the reproductive health needs of the poor, especially of the women among them, is also in keeping with the Second Vatican Council’s thrust of being a church in solidarity with the “joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men [and women] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted” (Gaudium et Spes 1965, no. 1). It is likewise consistent with the commitment of the Philippine Church to be a “Church of the Poor,” described by the 1991 Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) as “one where the entire community of disciples… will have such a love of preference for the poor as to orient and tilt the center of gravity of the entire community in favor of the needy” (PCP II, no. 134)

Declaration of Support for the House Bill 4244 signed by 192 Faculty members of Ateneo de Manila University last 18 August 2012


A Catholic must accept  all official Catholic teachings or he ceases to be Catholic.  It is all or nothing.  In the olden days, people who accept some but not all Catholic teachings are called heretics.  That is why we have the Arian heresy which accepts the humanity of Christ but not his divinity as equal in majesty to the Father.  Or the Manichaean heresy which accepts the goodness of the spirit but not of matter.  Or the Donatist heresy which accepts the Sacrament of Baptism but requires the rebaptism of apostates.  Or the Protestant heresy  which accepts Heaven and Hell but denies Purgatory.  Or the Modernist heresy, which accepts the power of reason but placed it in the level of religion itself.  Today, nobody talks about heresies anymore and the warnings of excommunication have lost their ancient terror to the soul.  Today, we simply call Catholics who accept some but not all Catholic teachings as Cafeteria Catholics or Liberal Catholics, with the latter as the more politically correct term.

The image of a key is important.  If you have two keys that look similar in their jaggedness, except that one has a more pointed protrusion here and a deeper dent there, only one of them can open the door.  Similarly, if you have an idea that is compatible to some Catholic teachings, but not to others, then such an idea is not compatible to Catholic teaching.  As Chesterton in Everlasting Man wrote:

The creed was like a key in three respects; which can be most conveniently summed up under this symbol. First, a key is above all things a thing with a shape. It is a thing that depends entirely upon keeping its shape. The Christian creed is above all things the philosophy of shapes and the enemy of shapelessness. That is where it differs from all that formless infinity, Manichean or Buddhist, which makes a sort of pool of night in the dark heart of Asia; the ideal of uncreating all the creatures. That is where it differs also from the analogous vagueness of mere evolutionism; the idea of creatures constantly losing their shape. A man told that his solitary latchkey had been melted down with a million others into a Buddhistic unity would be annoyed. But a man told that his key was gradually growing and sprouting in his pocket, and branching into new wards or complications, would not be more gratified.

Second, the shape of a key is in itself a rather fantastic shape. A savage who did not know it was a key would have the greatest difficulty in guessing what it could possibly be. And it is fantastic because it is in a sense arbitrary. A key is not a matter of abstractions; in that sense a key is not a matter of argument. It either fits the lock or it does not. It is useless for men to stand disputing over it, considered by itself; or reconstructing it on pure principles of geometry or decorative art. It is senseless for a man to say he would like a simpler key; it would be far more sensible to do his best with a crowbar. And thirdly, as the key is necessarily a thing with a pattern, so this was one having in some ways a rather elaborate pattern. When people complain of the religion being so early complicated with theology and things of the kind, they forget that the world had not only got into a hole, but had got into a whole maze of holes and comers. The problem itself was a complicated problem; it did not in the ordinary sense merely involve anything so simple as sin. It was also full of secrets, of unexplored and unfathomable fallacies, of unconscious mental diseases, of dangers in all directions. If the faith had faced the world only with the platitudes about peace and simplicity some moralists would confine it to, it would not have had the faintest effect on that luxurious and labyrinthine lunatic asylum. What it I did do we must now roughly describe; it is enough to say here that there was undoubtedly much about the key that seemed complex; indeed there was only one thing about it that was simple. It opened the door.

Thus, if the RH Bill is compatible to some principles of Catholic Social Teaching but is incompatible with Catholic Teaching on Contraception as taught by Humanae Vitae, then the RH Bill is incompatible with Catholic Teaching.  Because a Catholic embraces all official teachings of the Catholic Church, then to embrace the RH Bill is to cease to be Catholic.

POSTCRIPT: Test of Catholic Orthodoxy according to St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Ignatius of Loyola

The first time the phrase “the Catholic Church” appeared in print is in the Letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch to Smyrneans:

8 Flee from schism as the source of mischief. You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would God’s law. Nobody must do anything that has to do with the Church without the bishop’s approval. You should regard that Eucharist as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop or by someone he authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop’s supervision, no baptisms or love feasts are permitted. On the other hand, whatever he approves pleases God as well. In that way everything you do will be on the safe side and valid.

Flee from schisms.  Obey the bishop.  This is the test of Catholic orthodoxy.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, at the last part of his Spiritual Exercises, wrote something similar in his Rules for Thinking, Judging, and Feeling with the Church:

The First Rule. With all judgment of our own put aside, we ought to keep our minds disposed and ready to be obedient in everything to the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.

The Ninth Rule. Lastly, we should praise all the precepts of the Church, while keeping our mind ready to look for reasons for defending them and not for attacking them in any way.

The Thirteenth Rule. To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What I see as white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord of ours who gave the ten commandments that our holy Mother Church is guided and governed.

Concerning the institutional fidelity of Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae has laid out general norms for the university community:

Article 4. The University Community

§ 1. The responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of the University rests primarily with the University itself. While this responsibility is entrusted principally to university authorities (including, when the positions exist, the Chancellor and/or a Board of Trustees or equivalent body), it is shared in varying degrees by all members of the university community, and therefore calls for the recruitment of adequate university personnel, especially teachers and administrators, who are both willing and able to promote that identity. The identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine. It is the responsibility of the competent Authority to watch over these two fundamental needs in accordance with what is indicated in Canon Law(49).

§ 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. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition(50).

§ 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. In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.

§ 5. The education of students is to combine academic and professional development with formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church; the programme of studies for each of the various professions is to include an appropriate ethical formation in that profession. Courses in Catholic doctrine are to be made available to all students(51).

The Church hierarchy is composed of the Pope, the Bishops, and Priests.  If there is doubt on the teaching of a priest, we can appeal to his bishop.  If there  is doubt on the teaching of a bishop, we can appeal to the Pope and the buck stops here.  If we disagree with Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae regarding contraception or if we disagree with Pope John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae regarding fidelity or respect to the university’s Catholic identity, there is no more higher authority that we can appeal to.   The most distinguished theologian, no matter how brilliant, must still submit to the authority of the Catholic Church.  The most gifted visionary, no matter how holy, must still submit to the authority of the Catholic Church.  And so, too, must University Professors: they must also submit to the authority of the Catholic Church by renouncing the RH Bill, for example.  We are either inside the sheepfold or out of it.  We are either with the vine or we wither as a branch. The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.  Outside the Church there is no salvation.  Outside the Church there is only wailing and gnashing of teeth.


Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr., the Monk’s Hobbit
Feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary
11 October 2012

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

39 Responses to RH Bill and the Catholic University

  1. dboncan says:

    Bravo Dr. Sugon …now if only the common, dissenting Atenean will take time to read the reflect on this.

  2. Ben Vallejo says:

    I am very much surprised to know you do not quote Cardinal Newman at all! His Idea of a University is where much of John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae rests.

  3. Roy S. says:

    I found all of this commentary was true and correct, and it is my duty to support this by sharing this message to others… Thanks God… Thanks to all..

  4. What did this post do that the Varsitarian article did not?

    It presented the stand of the Church in an intellectual manner — and not only that, the manner by which the post unfurled its arguments were imbued with the Catholic virtue of “patientia” without the need to compromise, which is very, very laudable. :)

    If only all Catholic apologists would address gripping issues in the calm, patience, and attention to detail marked of an academician, instead of the rage, mouthbreathing, and uncouth attitude of a barbarian during the heyday of the Roman Empire, maybe we’d be receiving less flak and more nods of respect, if not agreement. :)

  5. yumulnenette says:

    Very well explained. Thank you for this in-depth explanation of the issue.

  6. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Hi Ben,

    Repost of reply from FB:

    Thanks for the note. I read Newman’s discourse. He does not want Theology to be removed from the Scientific Chairs because doing so, other sciences would encroach on the theological territories where they have no right to do so. Newman is consistent with Aquinas. But Aquinas is sufficient for my paper: he writes in simple style in a language understandable to ordinary folks.

  7. Joel Marc Cairo says:

    Very enlightening. Great piece. A must-read for everyone who sincerely cares about this issue.

  8. diaspora2010 says:

    this essay is wrong on many levels, theology is not a science. theology is dependent of divine revelation, which is not verifiable and demonstrable in any way, so it cannot and will not be science. for theology to become science, it must follow the scientific method. divine revelation must be peer reviewed, demonstrated repeatedly and analysed by many scientists. theology cannot do this. theology relies on faith, which is the reliance on the credulity of its members.

  9. Glady Lee says:

    Sir, I applaud you! You have explained in great details what I was trying to explain. But with my poor writing skills (not using big words, grammars, etc) nobody wants to hear it even when the points are there. You have explained everything just in your first paragraph what general public have reacted and criticized. But YOU went on with such great details that gives a broader understanding of the real issue. And of course, your background or should i say credentials really helps!!! **KUDOS***SALUTE***THANK YOU***lastly***MUCH LOVE & RESPECT***

    “The Varsitarian editorial, RH Bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of Lemons and Cowards, has been criticized because there is no byline. But editorials have no bylines. Check out Inquirer and Philippine Star. This is not an act of cowardice but a journalistic tradition, because editorials are “newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors or publishers.” The editorial was also criticized because of some grammatical lapses or its arrogance. But we may be missing out on the true issue here, in the same way as we focus on Sen. Sotto’s plagiarism rather than on his allegations that international pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood are funding the RH Bill lobby. The real issue is this:”

  10. Lois says:

    Well thought of, well written very scholarly but within the reach of common sense. I still believe there are good and reasonable people around who can make a difference. God bless you. May your tribe increase.

  11. rogie says:

    Great post, Dr. Sugon. I’ll share this post of yours.

  12. R2D2 says:

    Dr. Sugon has given his definition of “science.” You have to deal with his article on that level. i suggest that you look up the etymology and history of the word before you fume. I also suggest that you look up the philosophy of math & science debate between Penrose and Hawkins before you assume that “scientists” are sure about what it means to be free of what you call “credulity.”

  13. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    My friend,

    I am glad that you have more time now to develop your arguments.

    However, I still take issue with your interpretation of humani generis / adam, my guess is that you still have not read it from end to end as I have asked you before, checking all the relevant notes and references along the way… but you seem better, so I digress…

    Back to the matter at hand, the venerable pope himself mentioned…

    “This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people.”

    And then you have to remember that this encyclical was written BEFORE the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church, if you have no time to read this, the current pope benedict has provided a brief Compendium where it states:

    “29. Why is there no contradiction between faith and science?


    Though faith is above reason, there can never be a contradiction between faith and science because both originate in God. It is God himself who gives to us the light both of reason and of faith.

    “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” (Saint Augustine)


    The pope has declared that it is the year of faith (or another year of faith), focusing on the new evangelization which started from vatican ii…

    so study all the relevant church teachings and documents which stemmed from that council… even the catecheses of pope benedict who was important in developing the catechism (i hope you have started to read them if you have not read them already) and I hope you use them in your arguments…

  14. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Wants To,

    I have read Humani Generis. The “letter” mentioned by the pope does not refer to the encyclical Humani Generis, but rather to the Letter to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies:

    “38. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies.[13] The letter….”

    Are you trying to imply that Humani Generis is wrong because it was written before the publication of the Catechism? What was true before, remains true today, because Faith does not change.

    It is true that there is no contradiction between Faith and Science. The full quote from the Catechism is this:

    “159 Faith and science: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.”37 “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”38”

    Notice the two requirements for scientific research: 1) carried out in a truly scientific manner and 2) does not override moral laws. The problem with some scientists is that they encroach on the domains of morality, e.g. polygenism. So the Church has to step in and define the bounds researchable topics. That is why Humani Generis was written.

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  20. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    I am glad that you have read Humani Generis, I hope you read it in full. Have you checked all the references as much as you can? Remember, I never said Humani Generis was wrong or incorrect, only that the venerable pope himself left it open for further study which, on other topics and so on, the church has been continuing to do from its beginnings… as I have mentioned previously, I wished that pope john paul ii did it as he did for galileo… and I hope that pope benedict xvi would do so (or at least give out a definitive clarifying stance) or some future pope in my lifetime…

    You are correct that the letter refers to something else, but you miss the point that the venerable pope himself commented about the “genesis/origins” chapters of genesis…

    I am glad you took the time to look up the expounded version of the basic catechism about faith and science, I take a little offense and think you are incorrect about saying that it is a full quote, implying that what I quoted from the compendium was a partial quote… remember the compendium was a gift from pope benedict xvi and pope john paul ii when the former was still a cardinal (although completed when he was already pope) and serves a slightly different audience.

    At any rate, you said it yourself, or rather implied, does the research into the truth of polygenism override moral laws. You quickly pass judgment that it should be…

    Here is someone who has done more research than I have into the topic, and someone who I can only assume is more Ignatian than you, so I hope you would show more respect and openness to his ideas/thinking than you have mine (sorry I really think sometimes you are still living in the times of the counter-reformation, and interpreting st. ignatius of loyola (as opposed to previous saints named ignatius) too literally):

    + + + + + + +

    Moving forward with polygenism?
    February 11, 2011
    by Nathan O’Halloran, SJ


    His other works:

    I hope he will forgive me for quoting a big chunk of his post here:

    “…Basically, I go through Church documents from the 1909 Pontifical Biblical commision assertion that Genesis 1-11 had to be treated as history to the last mention of polygenism by Paul VI in 1966 that it is still not to be taught since it is “not proved.” My basic claim was that polygenism is now essentially “proved,” and since the Church has no trouble at all reconciling science with faith, we need to begin teaching, not polygenism yet as a “doctrine,” but the full debate surrounding it, to our students. They need to know the questions and that there is a good chance that the Church will say something soon about polygenism thanks to the mapping of the human genome. ”

    “I think there are three places in particular where we can see where the Magisterium left itself open to further development in this teaching. First, Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis notes that a previous PBC letter to Cardinal Suhard in Paris concerning the historicity of Genesis 1-11 (in my powerpoint) was not meant to imply that Genesis does not teach history at all. Rather, “the first eleven chapters of Genesis…do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes.“ In other words, exegetes are given room to study this question of historicity and whether or not history is after all implied in all parts of Genesis 1-11, particulary in places where there seems to be no history, but only transcendent truths in the form of myth. ”

    “Second, while the teaching of polygenism is prohibited by Pius XII, he notes that “it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled.” This does not mean that polygenism cannot be reconciled, but just that right now it is not apparent how it can be. I at least believe that we now have arrived theologically at a point of seeing it is now apparent how we can move past historicity.”

    “Finally, Paul VI notes in an address on Original Sin in 1966: “It is evident that you will not consider as reconcilable with the authentic Catholic doctrine those explanations of original sin, given by some modern authors, which start from the presupposition of polygenism which is not proved.” The question now is whether polygenism has been proved, and since “truth cannot contradict truth,” it is time to move forward. ”

    “Has the Church itself moved forward? The nearest indication of this is in the 2004 International Theological Commission document “Communion and Stewardship.” Three quotes in particular:
    “In its original unity – of which Adam is the symbol – the human race is made in the image of the divine Trinity.”
    “While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage.”
    “Catholic theology affirms that that the emergence of the first members of the human species (whether as individuals or in populations) represents an event that is not susceptible of a purely natural explanation and which can appropriately be attributed to divine intervention. Acting indirectly through causal chains operating from the beginning of cosmic history, God prepared the way for what Pope John Paul II has called ‘an ontological leap…the moment of transition to the spiritual.’””

    + + + + + + +

    I wish I have read his post when we first started to talk about this, it is interesting that he pointed to the same sections I had… it makes me feel that I am not crazy.

    So will you call him a heretic, as you almost implied I am?

    1Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:

    2 Who is this who darkens counsel

    with words of ignorance?

    3 Gird up your loins now, like a man;

    I will question you, and you tell me the answers!

  21. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    Oh, and I think there is a logical flaw in your last paragraph, particularly in your conclusion “That is why Humani Generis was written.” I am sorry but I could not identify which flaw is it, I wish I did not skip all those classes about logic, I hope they are still offering them at ateneo. It is similar to chicken and egg logical flaw, because you use statements from something that came out of what happened much after humani generis — much after in the sense that the second vatican council was revolutionary, a post counter-reformation as some have said; to support a claim about a prior event… that made my head spin, maybe I am a little crazy after all or just too much stress in life, work, and love… I hope you fare better in those…

    Notice the two requirements for scientific research: 1) carried out in a truly scientific manner and 2) does not override moral laws. The problem with some scientists is that they encroach on the domains of morality, e.g. polygenism. So the Church has to step in and define the bounds researchable topics. That is why Humani Generis was written.

  22. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Wants To,

    The opinions of theologians have no weight compared to the definitive teaching of Humani Generis regarding polygenism. Peter has spoken through Pius XII. The case is closed.

  23. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    There you go again… claiming that the case is closed, as we have previously discussed on another post, the case can only be closed as you claim if and when a pope speaks ex-cathedra, or something like a synod of bishops declares it so, if you and I are lucky, maybe the current synod will do so… go look for that discussion of ours; for the meantime, i wish you well.

  24. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    By the way, it is poor taste for you to dismiss people by just saying that the case is closed… that can leave people with bad impressions about catholic apologetics in particular and some of the better christian and religious apologetics in general.

    Once again remember what happened to job…

  25. I couldn’t agree more.

    Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

  26. This is a great post, for it not only shows how RH Bill is incompatible in being a Catholic, but also shows how Catholic Church teaches what is true and good, hence showing that RH Bill is evil.

    I wish I could be like you Dr. Sugon, who uses wisely his talents to serve God and His church. And I believe you really are wise, for your puspose is the highest purpose of all, that is, to know, love and serve God.

    I would like to answer diaspora2010:

    Science is systematized body of knowledge of cause. Not all causes are material. Your definition of science only includes physical science. Consequently, your definition is not science.

  27. Wants to be Anonymous says:


    I believe I may have pointed this out to you previously, but the current pope, bless his soul, there are rumors of his failing health as a reason why he is vigilant in keeping a high number of cardinals… i digress, so pope benedict xvi himself recognizes that there were human beings before “adam” (and presumably “eve”), when human lips proclaimed “Thou”:

    The clay became man at the moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought of “God.” The first Thou that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which the spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed. For it is not the use of weapons or fire, not new methods of cruelty or of useful activity, that constitute man, but rather his ability to be immediately in relation to God. This holds fast to the doctrine of the special creation of man . . . herein . . . lies the reason why the moment of anthropogenesis cannot possibly be determined by paleontology: anthropogenesis is the rise of the spirit, which cannot be excavated with a shovel. The theory of evolution does not invalidate the faith, nor does it corroborate it. But it does challenge the faith to understand itself more profoundly and thus to help man to understand himself and to become increasingly what he is: the being who is supposed to say Thou to God in eternity. (Creation and Evolution: A Conference With Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo, S.D.S. Stephan Horn (ed), pp. 15-16)

    Again, I recognize that there is no definite catechism/doctrinal statement, but I can imagine that the current pope would not dare go against the grain scratched by a venerable pope if the latter’s statements were meant to be infallible.

    You seem to have an affinity for the spiritual exercises developed by st. ignatius of loyola… almost to the point that it seems like jesuit envy… before i expound further, let me say the following…

    I do not know what your community/communities (you seem to have a ministry, and you belong to a catholic campus, and I assume you belong to some parish) are doing for the year of faith, but a priest in our parish mentioned the following in the culmination of our overview/introductory seminar; it goes something like:

    in the same way the synod of bishops at the second vatican council struggled with each other, continuously discussing even opposing views with each other (a description involving then cardinal ratzinger can be found here http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1727724,00.html, maybe this was a reason why he eventually became “God’s Rottweiler”, I hope he would be more definitive about this issue we have been barking about), and eventually coming up with the documents which would help to guide the church in these modern times, and eventually the catechism, the compendium of the catechism, and this year, the catechism given by pope benedict xvi, and soon we anticipate a gift from the current synod of bishops.

    what i wanted to say earlier, is that i am sure you are aware that st. ignatius of loyola struggled, eventually rekindling his faith (sparked when he was baptized) and struggling with his conscience on his path to holiness before he did all of the things he is famous for…

    finally, as paul rebuked peter when necessary, i resent your dismissal of exegetes and theologians, are you cognizant that the spiritual exercises you practically idolize is a theology (which needless to say is developed by ignatius of loyola)? the fact that he was canonized as a saint later does not change that i.e. it is not divine revelation… go brush up on dei verbum… i may have mentioned before, the way you express the fruits of your spiritual exercises seem to be like you are still living in the times of the counter reformation… i myself, at a sad snail’s pace though, have started to look into the spiritual exercises in light of the second vatican council http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/theology-and-ecclesiology/

    you seem to have your hands full, may you receive blessings to help you!

  28. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Wants To,

    How God made Adam out of clay is a question that the Catholic Church does not forbid the faithful to investigate. As Humani Generis states:

    “36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”

    This is only as far as we can do research on the “doctrine of evolution”. What the Church forbids is the research on polygenism:

    “37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

    I don’t think that “human lips” you mentioned refer to humans before Adam. A lip is “either of the two fleshy parts that form the upper and lower edges of the opening of the mouth”. Lips, therefore, consist of the upper lip and the lower lip. I think that Adam’s lips are the ones referred to is clear:

    “The clay became man at the moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought of “God.” The first Thou that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which the spirit arose in the world. ”

    So Pope Benedict XVI is not going against Pope Pius XII. And even then, his opinions as a theologian can be disputed (such as what he wrote in his book entitled “Jesus of Nazareth”), but his official teaching as Successor of Peter can never be disputed. Pope Pius XII has invoked his teaching authority in Humani Generis and that is why every Catholic is bound in conscience to obey:

    “41. For this reason, after mature reflexion and consideration before God, that We may not be wanting in Our sacred duty, We charge the Bishops and the Superiors General of Religious Orders, binding them most seriously in conscience, to take most diligent care that such opinions be not advanced in schools, in conferences or in writings of any kind, and that they be not taught in any manner whatsoever to the clergy or the faithful.”

  29. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    My friend,

    I may have asked from you previously, where is the document/statement form the vatican which states that humani generis should be treated as infallible?

    I never said that pope benedict xvi was going against a former pope’s words, I am merely asserting my conjecture/understanding that humani generis was never meant to be infallible so the current spoke can speak like that with the full weight of his office behind his words; After some thought, let’s make sure we are on the same page, because you hide behind slogans like ‘case closed’ (you throw it around like you watch too much tv), do you consider those statements in humani generis to be treated as infallible in the same way as, say, the dogma about the assumption; or the immaculate conception; or the mystery of Jesus Christ’s duality, being fully human and fully divine; and as is canonically understood, consitutions and pronouncements of ecumenical councils, since they are made with the pope, should be treated as infallible? Yes or no?

    How about we make it interesting, you seem to be disinterested in struggling to gain fuller understanding, and I have struggled as much as I can about this topic, much before (almost seven years ago) you have started to write about it in your blog and am merely waiting for judgment (whether a pronouncement from the pope or his successors, a synod of bishops or a future ecumenical council, any or all may hopefully occur in my lifetime); so, if you can get a Jesuit, say Fr. McNamara (I hope he is still in good health), or Fr. Jett, they are both trained in the sciences aren’t they, who agrees with you, to declare it so (that humani generis should be treated as infallible… polygenism should be treated as a moral issue… there is only one historical AND archaeological adam AND eve… etc. etc.) in an official publication of the ateneo, or even its website or an ateneo sanctioned website, and have an electronic copy of it available here in your blog, and have that pronouncement stand for at least the same length of time as the current year of faith, then i will drop the matter (I’ll wait for an official teaching from the vatican before I “recant” my understanding of course)

    Otherwise, I will have to keep reminding you:

    1Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:

    2 Who is this who darkens counsel

    with words of ignorance?

    3 Gird up your loins now, like a man;

    I will question you, and you tell me the answers!

  30. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    BTW as for your last statement about the binding of the conscience… again, that document was before the twenty first ecumenical council, the second held at vatican… the statements from that council, which can be treated infallibly, and the statements built upon those statements (like the catechism, the compendium, the statements from pope john paul ii about galileo, pope benedict xvi’s statement about the creation/formation of human beings etc.) clarifies the “anachronism”, for lack of a better word, present in humani generis. Like the new roman missal, the spirit, the faith is the same, the expression has just been made suitable.

  31. Ben Vallejo says:

    Polygenism is a scientific hypothesis which posits that the human species may have evolved from several ancestral species. This is unlikely and is hardly supported by the Darwin-Wallace theory and Darwin’s “Origin of Species” established that as scientific fact. In fact we should not be too much bothered with what is essentially a falsified theory of historical interest. Humani Generis is interesting only for the fact that it establishes the principle of the autonomy of Science, which later popes from Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have reiterated. But evolutionary biology has advanced far beyond that what Pius XII knew. What the Darwin-Wallace theory and Ernst Mayr’s theoretical developments on Darwinian theory is that species are essentially population units and it is more likely that species may have evolved from a single population. Here is where Theology will have to understand with Science what this really means with respect to the origin of morality and the theological construct we call original sin. The problem with a few theologians is that they enroach the domains of Science, which has Magisterial authority in its own realm. The few theologians I say are hardly Roman Catholic at all. In fact the majority of Roman Catholic or even Anglican theologians do not enroach on the legitimate autonomy of Science in finding the truth about the natural world.

  32. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    Hi Ben Vallejo,

    Your comment puzzles me. Let us make sure we are on the same page:
    0) Do you believe in God?
    1) Are you a Christian? / Do you believe in the Triune God?
    2) If yes, are you a Catholic?
    3) Whether or not you are a Catholic, are you a fundamentalist/orthodox christian?
    4) Do you agree to the following concept of polygenism being discussed here (if I miss out some details, I hope the blog’s owner/moderator would correct me and or expound)

    Polygenism posits that there may have been more than one set of biological/anthropological parents i.e. your first human ancestors may be different from my first human ancestors; where human ancestors is, as pope benedict xvi said, the first ones who formed the thought of God.

    5) Do you agree that the spiritual soul of every human is created by God, in God’s image?

    6) You referred to theologians? which ones? who? what is the citation for their writings?

    I strongly disagree with your last statement, the following theologians are among those who struggled with their understanding of faith and their understanding of science/reason, and these theologians, one way or another helped shaped the church we know today through the second vatican council:

    Henri de Lubac, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, and Joseph Ratzinger

    Their fates may have been varied, you go research them yourself, but they helped to shape how we view/ought to view faith and science/reason (remember it is AND not or).

  33. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Wants To,

    If the present pope officially teaches that Pope Pius XII made a mistake in teaching against polygenism in Humani Generis, then I would like to see the document. But there is no official document released. So Humani Generis remains binding.

  34. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    I never claimed that there was a mistake in humani generis, remember, the catholic church recognizes that spiritual truth, especially when it concerns the interpretation of the literal sense of the Word of God, is subject to our current best understanding of the literal sense — remember, the sun isn’t the center of the universe…

    My request from you is to point to me where does it say that humani generis is, at the very least, dogmatic.

    You ask the other extreme from me, we seem to be at a stalemate.

    I can imagine, getting a jesuit professor at ateneo to do the same would be quite a challenge, so how about ask your bishop to publicly declare what he as bishop of your ecclesial province teaches about this, and I will hold my peace.

  35. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Wants To,

    The pope has already spoken that the teaching against the particular teaching of polygenism is binding on all Catholic conscience:

    “41. For this reason, after mature reflexion and consideration before God, that We may not be wanting in Our sacred duty, We charge the Bishops and the Superiors General of Religious Orders, binding them most seriously in conscience, to take most diligent care that such opinions be not advanced in schools, in conferences or in writings of any kind, and that they be not taught in any manner whatsoever to the clergy or the faithful.”

    Why would you still ask a bishop regarding this? This teaching is definitive and binding on conscience. I don’t know what you mean by dogmatic. Polygenism touches on an important Catholic dogma: the Dogma of Original Sin. If you think the pope erred in his teaching against polygenism, maybe the last recourse is to seek clarification from the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith, and not just from any theologian, priest, or bishop.

  36. Ben Vallejo says:

    Wants to Remain Anonymous

    The basic unit by which species can be considered in evolution is the population. Polygenism which posits that the present human species may have evolved from several populations of different ancestries is unsupported by molecular evidence and in general the historical biogeography of early humans. A key concept in a monogenetic origin of a species is that the phylogenesis is localized in a specific geographic region. Both molecular and fossil evidence for the genus Homo is supported by the Darwinian prediction. In Science we think of populations as the accuracy of the methods over time will only allow us to conclude with a reasonable degree of certainty that humans evolved from a single population. Of course we can model the size of the population and some estimates say it is a band of probably 20. It is acceptable in Science to hypothesize that a single couple from that population gave rise to the human population as we observe it now. We can name those as Adam and Eve as you wish. It won’t contradict science and neither it will contradict Catholic theology. Whether Science can validate such hypothesis with a reasonable degree of confidence is something we have to see.

  37. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    My friend,

    Actually, original sin is above being dogmatic, it is doctrinal, remember St. Paul? it is interesting that protestants “frequently claim him as only their own, using his teachings to counter the Catholic Church” when in fact St. Paul is Catholic:

    http://pauliscatholic.com/ (I have never read the book, but listened to the podcasts, this helped me start my journey on learning more deeply about St. Paul)

    and of course, since it is the year of faith, we have part of the catechisms developed by the current pope:


    As for your repeated appeal to the phrase “binding them most seriously in conscience” — this is not a dogmatic statement, this is a pastoral one. As you yourself has mentioned, you acknowledge/copy pasted from the catechism that, conscience can err; well the idea, in my understanding is that conscience can err if we could not distinguish the true voice of God, which for us, Catholics, if we are not guided by God in the person of the Holy Spirit, who also acts through the Catholic Church. Also, have you ever bothered to check the original text?

    …gravissime eorum onerata conscientia…

    The phrase you love so much (which is quite far from saying “let him be anathema”) only implores that every one consider the gravity, the graveness of this issue.

    What I am trying to say is that you attempt to use logic (dabbled with some faith/religion/spirituality which you are forming) wherein you must be theologic (so that the issue of whether your faith/religion/spirituality is already formed or not is no longer in question). While your heart seems to be at the right place, some of your words still need to bear fruit and sometimes, beyond the copy past and one line comments, does not build upon the efforts undertaken by Saints Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Ignatius of Loyola. We need, for lack of a better phrase, “modern versions of these men who have become saints” — someone well versed in sciences, logic, and theology and would build upon the doctrinal and dogmatic teachings of the church in these modern times. When I was younger I thought that it would be the blessed pope john paul ii, especially when he wrote crossing the threshold of hope, however, he has been called to be with the saints. It crossed my mind that it may become the current pope, since he was “God’s rottweiler” as the top watchdog for the doctrine of the faith. But it can also be a lay person as most of the saints were, you are a blue eagle, can you rise up to those heights?

    BTW your arguments/conclusions on related posts ending with “ceasing to be Catholic” are quite offensive. Have you forgotten about Baptism? People don’t cease to become Catholic, they just confirm that people are imperfect, people are sinners. They may get excommunicated, that is another issue, but even excommunicated Catholics are at their very essence, Catholic; remember Jose Rizal? I believe you have discussed him previously. I hope you have read the “JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION”, this one, like the existence of original sin, is doctrinal.

    Once again, I implore you, go read the two dogmatic constitutions of the second vatican council, make sure you understand them… and then read the other pastoral documents and declarations of the council and make sure you understand them.

    So, if you don’t want to ask your bishop, why don’t you ask your parish priest? Or how about, asking a biology professor at the ateneo, does he/she teach in his/her biology classes that there is only one set of human parents for all of us because that is what his/her interpretation of what the church teaches and/or that is the official teaching he/she received? does he/she believe that personally? Can you get someone to declare so publicly? Even here on your blog would be sufficient if it would be such a hassle to get it published in an ateneo publication.

    If you try to avoid even that, To get back to the heart of the matter, let me comment first that you always side step my questions, so do you believe in evolution? What do you think about the fossils? What do you think about the big bang? If you blindly, deafly, and mutely believe that there is only one archaeological adam/eve, then you ought to blindly, deafly, and mutely believe in Cain and Able. So, who did Cain marry? All of these, in one way or another, relate to original sin, so, why don’t you open up these can of worms?

    Once again, I iterate that I BELIEVE that your heart is in the right place… but you have to be better, otherwise you disrespect the memory of the saints whose writings you frequently copy paste.

    1Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:

    2 Who is this who darkens counsel

    with words of ignorance?

    3 Gird up your loins now, like a man;

    I will question you, and you tell me the answers!

    “then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)”

  38. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    Dear Ben Vallejo,

    You are mixing your knowledge of science, which sounds impressive, (the owner/moderator, I assume is more versed and may comment if he desires or thinks necessary), and some ideas of religion. It doesn’t seem logical to me, and it is quite far from being theological. So, what is it? I don’t know, do you know? You should probably try to elaborate your ideas some more. I hope that your heart is in the right place, otherwise you would just get tangled in your own web.

    To help in further discussion, I have noticed that you never answered any of my simple questions, without direct answers from you, it is hard to interpret, let alone understand what you are trying to say.

    So, let me repeat/rephrase/reframe:

    0) Do you believe in God?

    1) Do you believe in the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

    2) Are you Roman Catholic? (sorry, I should have been more specific in my question)

    3) Do you agree to the following concept of polygenism being discussed here (if I miss out some details, I hope the blog’s owner/moderator would correct me and or expound)

    Polygenism posits that there may have been more than one set of biological/anthropological parents i.e. your first human ancestors may be different from my first human ancestors; where human ancestors is, as pope benedict xvi said, the first ones who formed the thought of God.

    4) Do you agree that the spiritual soul of every human is created by God, in God’s image?

    6) You referred to theologians? which ones? who? what is the citation for their writings? How are they relevant to the discussion?

    7) Have you read, researched, and checked cross references for the dogmatic constitutions from the second vatican council?

    8) Do you believe that the sun is the center of the universe?

    You see, I think I understand the moderator/owner of the blog, we may not agree, but I think I understand him; you, I don’t understand. So, I think that the owner/moderator is clinging to, for lack of a better term, an anachronism regarding a literal interpretation of a translation of a phrase in a pope’s encyclical, an anachronism which may have resulted from looking at a possibly imperfect translation (which may happen, as has happened in the first edition of the catechism of the catholic church, and the roman missal); a blind acceptance (I have not yet seen any glimpse of understanding) of the writings/teachings of saints… and a seeming refusal to accept the dogmatic constitutions laid out from the second vatican council…

    What do you really want to say?

  39. Wants to be Anonymous says:

    My apologies, I meant to ask

    “Do you believe that the EARTH is the center of the universe?”

    Moderator/Owner, from this holy day of obligation, may you receive guidance from the saints you admire so much. May they help you to understand that even their writings were not infallible, yes, the church recognizes their holiness and their intercessions, but I am not aware of any dogmatic status of the writings you have frequently quoted.

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