Tale of Two Ateneos

In her Inquirer commentary entitled, “Ateneo’s Freudian slip,” Minyong Ordonez wrote about the two Ateneo de Manilas:

Many Ateneo alumni are asking questions. Whatever happened to “Ratio Studiorum,” the Jesuit-conceived curriculum concept that inspired many Ateneans in the past to pursue excellence of mind and spirit? What is happening out there in Loyola Heights? Are there two schools of thought in Ateneo today?

On one side are followers of the Church magisterium who obey the Church teachings with humility as taught by Jesus Christ in his Sermon on the Mount. On the other side are a coterie of modernists, populists and personalists whose attitude on Catholicism is a matter of feel not faith, a matter of body and not of soul, a matter of material pragmatism not spiritual idealism, a matter of worldliness not of saintliness and a matter of selfish love not self-less love.

The media savvy lawyer and priest, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., who wrote his opinion on the RH Bill does not augment Fr. Nebres’ kind of spirituality at all. He chose to skin the cat in many ways, replete with ifs and buts, hence the good father was disabled from making a truly Catholic stand on morality. Methinks Fr. Bernas is too fascinated with life in a pluralistic society. He chose to be a politically correct constitutionalist first, an ordained Catholic priest second.

A top-rating TV preacher in America, the late Bishop Fulton Sheen, had an unequivocal view on moral issues. He said, “Right is right even if only one person believes it and millions don’t. And wrong is wrong even if millions think it’s right and only one thinks it’s wrong.”

Quo vadis, Ateneo?

Accurate observation. Sad but true. And we little hobbits of the Old Ateneo can only weep and mourn (and blog) as we silently pray our Alma Mater song.

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Rebuilding Sodom and Gomorrah: UN Draft Declaration on Non-Discrimination of Homosexuality

Parliamentary questions

4 December 2008
H-1009/08

ORAL QUESTION for Question Time at the part-session in January 2009 pursuant to Rule 109 of the Rules of Procedure by Dimitrios Papadimoulis to the Council

Subject: EU Presidency’s draft declaration in the UN on the decriminalisation of homosexuality

On 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the French Presidency of the Council proposes to table in the UN, on behalf of the European Union, a draft declaration calling on all governments worldwide to decriminalise homosexuality. The Vatican’s observer to the UN has already stated that his country will oppose the declaration.

Bearing in mind the European Parliament’s resolution (P6_TA(2007)0167) on homophobia in Europe, which calls for worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality and full implementation of Community anti-discrimination legislation, whilst condemning homophobic phenomena in the Member States, will the Council say which countries worldwide criminalise homosexuality? What action will it take further to the French Presidency’s declaration? What measures will it take to implement the European Parliament’s resolution in full? Does it consider that, in examining applications for asylum, account should be taken of whether applicants are persecuted in their country of origin because of their sexual orientation?

——

Regarding homosexuality, the Catechism teaches the following:

2357 ….Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity….

The book of Leviticus forbids homosexuality, together with infanticide and bestiality:

You shall not offer any of your offspring to be immolated to Moloch, thus profaning the name of your God. I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination. You shall not have carnal relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; such things are abhorrent. Do not defile yourselves by any of these things by which the nations whom I am driving out of your way have defiled themselves. Because their land has become defiled, I am punishing it for its wickedness, by making it vomit out its inhabitants. (Lev 18:21-25)

One example of a land that defiled itself with homosexuality is Sodom and Gomorrah. “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them (Gen 19:5),” the men of Sodom asked Lot. Lot answered, “Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they refused the offer: they like men better. So God rained Sodom and Gomorrah with sulfur and fire, and “He overthrew these cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” (Gen 19:24)

As in the days of Lot, the survival of the Western civilization depends only on a few holy men and women.  Without the monks and nuns praying for us, God would have destroyed us a long time ago for our sins–abortion, homosexuality,  and bestiality–to name a few.  But the number of monks and nuns are dwindling….

Back to the Future in 1968: Rahner on Humanae Vitae and the Present Ateneo Dissent

In September 1968 issue of the America magazine, Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. summarized the views of his fellow Jesuit, Karl Rahner S.J., published in Stimmen der Zeit, on the then recently published encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae.  The summary is long, but two points struck me:

In the first place, Rahner points out that Human Life cannot reasonably be considered irreformable doctrine. But this does not mean that it may be ignored. Since Catholics believe that the magisterium ordinarily operates under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the presumption should be in favor of the Pope’s declaration. Any such presumption, however, must also allow of the possibility that a Catholic can arrive at a carefully formed and critically tested conviction that in a given case the fallible magisterium has in fact erred. Nobody today denies that there are cases in which official, reformable teaching of the Holy See has in fact been erroneous. As examples, Rahner cites the views of Gregory XVI and Pius IX on liberal democracy, and various statements about the Bible issued in the aftermath of the Modernist crisis. It cannot therefore be assumed that a Catholic who conscientiously opposes the non-infallible doctrine of the magisterium, as it stands at a given moment, is necessarily disloyal. (In this connection an American Catholic might think of the long struggle of John Courtney Murray to obtain revision of certain papal pronouncements on Church-State relations.)

In the present case, Rahner continues, the complexity of the issue is such that no one opposed to the encyclical can claim absolute certainty for his own stand. But it is normal and inevitable that some should be unable to accept the pope’s doctrine. The encyclical, although it claims to be an interpretation of the natural law, does not in fact give very persuasive intrinsic arguments. The encyclical seems to look on human nature as something static and closed–not open to modification by free and responsible human decision. But for some time many moral theologians have been teaching that what is distinctive to human nature, as distinct from plant and animal life, is precisely man’s power to modify his own nature according to the demands of a higher good. The pope, in fact, seems to allow for a measure of rational manipulation of human fertility in permitting the practice of rhythm and the use of the “pill” to regularize the menstrual cycle. Undoubtedly this differs somewhat from the use of the pill for directly contraceptive purposes, but in some instances the distinction is so subtle that many will regard it as hair-splitting. Since a notable majority of the Papal Commission is known to have come out against the position later taken in the encyclical, one can hardly expect the majority of Catholics to find the reasoning of Human Life convincing.

Rahner’s arguments are echoed weeks ago when 69 (ominous number) professors of Ateneo de Manila University signed a petition in support of the Reproductive Health Bill, in defiance to the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines who insist on fidelity to Humanae Vitae:

As Catholic educators, Racelis said it was incumbent upon them to teach their students that the RH bill was not “immoral” as the Church claims.

“We respect the consciences of our bishops when they promote natural family planning as the only moral means of contraception. In turn, we ask our bishops to respect the one in three [35.6 percent] married Filipino women who, in their most secret core and sanctuary or conscience, have decided that their and their family’s interests would best be served by using a modern artificial means of contraception,” they said. (Manila Standard Today, 29 Oct 2008)

See the similarities? After 40 years, the seeds of dissent Rahner sowed in 1968 reaped 69-fold .  That is,

  1. Papal encyclicals are fallible documents.
  2. Catholics can disobey them without being disloyal.

Infallibility is defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia as follows:

  1. Infallibility means more than exemption from actual error; it means exemption from the possibility of error;
  2. It does not require holiness of life, much less imply impeccability in its organs; sinful and wicked men may be God’s agents in defining infallibly;
  3. The validity of the Divine guarantee is independent of the fallible arguments upon which a definitive decision may be based, and of the possibly unworthy human motives that in cases of strife may appear to have influenced the result. It is the definitive result itself, and it alone, that is guaranteed to be infallible, not the preliminary stages by which it is reached.

Furthermore, the Catholic Encyclopedia continued, in Session IV, cap. 4 of Vatican Council I, it is defined that the Roman pontiff when he teaches ex cathedra “enjoys, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith and morals”.

Was Pope Paul VI making a definitive statement as Vicar of Christ when he declares the evil nature of contraception? Let us listen to Pope Paul VI’s words in Humanae Vitae:

The Magisterium’s Reply

6. However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.

Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions.

So as Aragorn said in the Last Debate before the assault on the Black Gates of Mordor:

We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall. Let none now reject the counsels of Gandalf, whose long labors against Sauron come at last to their test.

Let us heed then the counsel of Pope Paul VI and reject the melodious music of Rahner the Wise.  Let us reject contraception.  Let us reject the Reproductive Health Bill.

If it is the Pill they clamor for, then a Pill must be given–the Pill that brought many souls back to the Catholic Faith, the Pill that sent the Roman Emperor Theodosius begging for pardon before the doors of the Church of Milan under St. Ambrose: Anathema Sit. If they do not wish to listen to the Church, then they must be excluded from the Church, and sent outside in the darkness where they will wail and gnash their teeth until they repent and pay the last penny.

Islam: Sum of All Heresies?

Last March 2008, the Department of Philosophy of the Ateneo de Manila University sponsored a book presentation,  The Sum of All Heresies: the Image of Islam in Western Thought by Professor Frederick Quinn, adjunct professor of History at the Utah State University. I haven’t attended the presentation, but the book’s synopsis sounds surprisingly apologetic:

Current global tensions and the spread of terrorism have resurrected in the West a largely negative perception of Islamic society, an ill will fueled by centuries of conflict and prejudice. Shedding light on the history behind these hostile feelings, Frederick Quinn’s timely volume traces the Western image of Islam from its earliest days to recent times.

Quinn establishes four basic themes around which the image of Islam gravitates throughout history: the Prophet as Antichrist, heretic, and Satan; the Prophet as Fallen Christian, corrupted monk, or Arab Lucifer; the prophet as sexual deviant, polygamist, and charlatan, and the Prophet as Wise Easterner, Holy Person, and dispenser of wisdom.

A feature of the book is a strong portrayal of Islam in literature, art, music, and popular culture, drawing on such sources as Cervantes’s Don Quixote; the Orientalism of numerous visual artists; the classical music of Monteverdi and Mozart; and more recent cultural manifestations, such as music hall artists like Peter Dawson and Edith Piaf; and stage or silver screen representations like The Garden of Allah, The Sheik, Aladdin, and The Battle of Algiers.

Quinn argues that an outpouring of positive information on basically every aspect of Islamic life has yet to vanquish the hostile and malformed ideas from the past. Conflict, mistrust, and misunderstanding characterize the Muslim-Christian encounter, and growing examples of cooperation are often overshadowed by anger and suspicion.

In this important book, Quinn highlights long-standing historical prejudices but also introduces the reader to some of the landmark voices in history that have worked toward a greater understanding of Islam.

The title of the book should not be Sum of All Heresies.  This phrase was used before by Pope Pius X in his encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, to describe not Islam but Modernism:

39. It may be, Venerable Brethren, that some may think We have dwelt too long on this exposition of the doctrines of the Modernists. But it was necessary, both in order to refute their customary charge that We do not understand their ideas, and to show that their system does not consist in scattered and unconnected theories but in a perfectly organised body, all the parts of which are solidly joined so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all. For this reason, too, We have had to give this exposition a somewhat didactic form and not to shrink from employing certain uncouth terms in use among the Modernists. And now, can anybody who takes a survey of the whole system be surprised that We should define it as the synthesis of all heresies? Were one to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate the sap and substance of them all into one, he could not better succeed than the Modernists have done.

So what should be a better title to Professor Quinn’s book? Considering how Islam conquered the ancient Christian lands surrounding the Mediterranean sea–Spain, Carthage, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Syria, Ephesus, Antioch, and Constantinople (now Turkey)–and how this conquest inspired fear in Western Europe, the heir of the Judaeo-Graeco-Roman civilization as represented by Christianity, and how this fear resulted to the Crusades to recover the ancient lands, especially the Holy City of Jerusalem, the proper title to Professor Quinn’s book should have been The Sum of All Fears: the Image of Islam in the Western Thought.

Reproductive Health Bill: A Misnomer

When we say we are healthy, we mean that we have no disease or ailment: we can walk, talk, hear, see, touch, and taste as a normal person. When we are not healthy, as when we have a fever, our body shivers, our foods taste bland, and our balance uneasy; we drag our legs, we read with tears, and we sleep in anguish.

Reproduction is the ability to make a copy of the original.   In inanimate reproduction, the copier has no likeness with the copy, e.g., a photocopier is not the same as the document it reproduces.  In animate reproduction, on the other hand, the copier has a likeness with its copy, e.g. a bacteria makes new copies of itself. For sexual animals like humans, a male and a female of the same specie mate and their offspring is their copy, their image and likeness: the offspring inherits traits both from its father and mother. The child may get his blue eyes from his Caucasian father and his brown skin from his Asian mother.

So what is reproductive health?  Reproductive health is a condition wherein one’s reproductive system is functioning properly.  That is, when two reproductively healthy couple, a man and a woman, engages in sexual intercourse, the normal result is pregnancy.  If one of them has a sexual dysfunction, no pregnancy occurs.  So we say that he or she is not reproductively healthy.  In Filipino, we describe this person as baog, in comparison to an unfertilized chicken egg that will never hatch, regardless how long the hen lays on it; in time such eggs rot and stink.

Let us compare our definition with that of the proponents of the reproductive health bill:

Reproductive Health – refers to the state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so, provided that these are not against the law. This further implies that women and men are afforded equal status in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.

This definition is troublesome.  By including physical, mental, and social well-being in the definition, even in the absence of disease or infirmity, the proponents of the bill have extended the definition of reproductive health beyond what the phrase reproductive health can hold.  If reproductive health means safe sex–which has come to mean not safety from diseases but safety from the thought of getting pregnant–then the proponents promote not reproduction but contraception: condoms, pills, IUD’s, and vasectomies.  If reproductive health means freedom to choose to have or not to have children, then the proponents sees children not as the future of our country nor gifts to be cherished nor support in old age, but simply as additional mouths to feed.  If reproductive health means equal status to women and men (not men and women) in sexual and reproductive matters, then the proponents see marriage as class warfare, a Marxist struggle for dominance and power, not as a way of mutual self-giving nor a bond of love.

The reproductive health bill is a misnomer: it should be renamed as the National Contraception Bill of 2008.

Our Greatest Moral Responsibility: To Convert the Contraceptive Mentality

An audio tape by Father John A. Hardon, S.J., S.T.D. –

Eternal Life , P.O. Box 787, Bardstown, KY 40004-0787, 502-348-3963, 1-800-842-2871. What follows are my excerpts of the excerpts from the tape. Please see end of this document.

In my judgment, the contraception mentality is the single deepest issue facing Western society. Notice, I call it “the contraception mentality.” We could just as well call it “the contraception ideology.” It was centuries in the making. It is devastating in its consequences! And it is, at the most, you might say, at its most destructive as the root of the massive assault in today’s society on the human family. Nothing less is at stake than the survival of Western, and with emphasis, American society.

So, we ask ourselves, what is — and I have two names — what is “the contraception,” or what is “the contraceptive mentality”? The contraceptive mentality is the philosophy which claims that contraception is not morally wrong. Indeed, according to this philosophy, it can be morally good for the welfare of those who practice contraception, and — certainly so its proponents claim — for the welfare of the human race. And I am speaking just a few weeks after the historic Cairo-Egypt conference, at the bottom of which was the plan to legislate — under dire financial and all kinds of economic and political sanctions — legislate, mandate contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

Already by the end of the first century there are written documents issued by Christian authorities reprobating, condemning, and always condemning three practices, and in sequence, contraception, abortion and infanticide. As Christianity spread not only numerically but ideologically, its moral influence on whole continents became imbedded in the civil laws of all the corresponding nations. It took, therefore, apostasy, apostasy in a Christian religion — and how this needs to be said — in that Christian religion of English origin that has so deeply infected, and, by now, devastated our own beloved country. Christianity was instituted by Christ to provide the moral soundness — let’s call it “the soul of society.” As long as Christians remained firm and faithful to their principles, the rest of the world where Christianity was established followed their lead. Once Christians caved in, whole nations fell along with them.

By way of a short analysis of what we said so far, before we go on. Already, therefore, before the end of the second millennium, it is now simply assumed in much of the modern world that contraception is not only justified, but has to be prescribed by the moral law. I sure hope I’m clear! It is no longer toleration, no longer permission, it is now prescription. The grounds for this “widespread mentality,” as we are calling it, are mainly the professed priority of each person’s own conscience. How this needs to be underlined! Instead of the mind and will of God being the guide which sets the norms for moral behaviour, it is now each person’s own mind determined by each person’s own will. What that person decides is good, becomes good. What that person decides is evil, is evil. In other words, each person’s conscience is his own judge of what is morally good or morally bad. Conscience, therefore, has been redefined to mean each person’s own free will independent of an objective Divine Law which teaches us our minds what is morally right or wrong.

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N.B. For a copy of this tape, other audiotapes, albums, books and catechisms by Father John A. Hardon, S.J., S.T.D. write to Eternal Life (Web page: http://www.lifeeternal.org) at the above address; or Email: orders@lifeeternal.org; Fax: 502-348-2224.

Father Hardon, a member of the Society of Jesus, was born in 1914 and died on December 30, 2000. He was an internationally renowned and highly respected theologian, an advisor to His Holiness Pope John Paul II, preacher, professor, lecturer, and a prolific writer of many books, articles, etc. on the matters of Faith and Morals.

Visit www.catholicsagainstcontraception.com. A hobbit thanks to Good Jesuit Bad Jesuit.