Continuing scandal in Ateneo de Manila after MVP’s speech: LADLAD and the Reproductive Health Bill

I.  The School Forum on MVP’s Speech

I attended the forum on MVP’s commencement speech yesterday.  There were four speakers, but I can remember only two: Fr. Ben Nebres, S.J. and Mr. Leland de la Cruz.  Fr. Ben announced the resignation of MVP and he emphasized the Board of Trustee’s decision was based on Catholic Moral Theology: there are many mitigating factors to the deed and among them are full knowledge and consent.  Leland, on the other hand, talked about the hurt experienced by other members of the Ateneo community.  His question is essentially on how do we reconcile the academic honesty we teach to our students with MVP’s speech.  I admire Leland for his courage.

I did not share my opinion in the forum.  I only listened.  I noticed that those who speak in favor of BOT are generally older teachers and those who speak in favor of Leland are generally younger.  If you ask my opinion,  I shall say that this issue is beyond my competence as a blogger.  I cannot directly quote from the Catechism or from a papal encyclical.  This is not a doctrinal problem, but something academic or something on the question of personal culpability which I am not competent to judge.  And besides, MVP and the Board of Trustees are not my colleague: they are my superiors.  I can air my disagreement to my colleague’s opinions, but for those of my superiors, I shall prefer to be mum and let those in authority  decide on the issue.  My code of conduct is governed by St. Ignatius 10th Rule for Thinking, Judging, and Feeling with the Church:

Rule 10. We ought to  be more inclined to approve and praise the decrees, recommendations, and conduct of our superiors than to speak against them.  For although in some cases their acts are not or were not praiseworthy, to speak against them either by preaching in public or by conversing among the ordinary people would cause more murmuring and scandal than profit.  And through this the people would become angry at their officials, whether civil or spiritual.  However, just as it does harm to speak evil about officials among the ordinary people while they are absent, so it can be profitable to speak of their bad conduct to persons who can bring about a remedy.

I haven’t seen the letter of Leland’s group before it was published on the web.  And many faculty members haven’t seen it.  It would have been better if they shared it with all the faculty first, get the pulse of the community, and broadcast it afterward.  More could have added their names on the list.  But that is only in hindsight.

II. The Continuing Scandals: LADLAD and the Reproductive Health Bill

One faculty walked to one of the microphones to speak her opinion.  And she passed behind my chair.  And while passing by I heard her whisper something to this effect: “the Catholic teaching on … is next.”  From the tone of her voice and murmurs I hear I can sense that she is referring to the issue of the Reproductive Health Bill which many faculty signed in support of the bill.  For this matter I can speak my mind, because I will not be speaking my mind but the mind of the Church: I shall simply quote Humanae Vitae:

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. (section 14, par. 3)

Danton Remoto, the founding chairman of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered party list group LADLAD sits somewhere to my left.  From the mention of the word “ladlad” which means “to lay bare in public” in one of the opinion presentations on MVP’s speech, I can see some nods in approval of LADLAD.  This is the second continuing scandal in Ateneo de Manila University: you have a professor in a Catholic University which pushes for the adoption of homosexual norms in the government, in defiance of Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality as stated in the Catechism.

Unlike MVP who admitted his error, the proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill and LADLAD in Ateneo continued to claim to know better than the Church’s Magisterium.  Fr. Ben Nebres’s appeal to Catholic teaching on full knowledge and consent for the sinful deed to be grave falls on deaf ears: you have a group of faculty members who do not anymore believe in the Church’s teaching authority.   If the Catholic Church can err in its teaching on contraception and homosexuality, then the Catholic Church can also err in its teaching on venial and mortal sins.

The disobedience to Church’s teaching authority also leads to another thing: the spirit of dissent to authority in general.  Dissent begets dissent.  I saw this years ago when the Vice President for Loyola Schools, Dr. Cuyegkeng, was standing in front of the students explaining the new University dress code–a code for modesty as a guardian of chastity.  Some Faculty members and Student leaders lambasted her in her face.  They find it difficult to follow a simple rule as to dress decently when you are in school.  Where is academic freedom in that?  they say, forgetting that students come to the Ateneo not to tell Ateneo what to do, but rather to be formed by Ateneo in the Jesuit Catholic tradition.  You don’t talk down to the Vice President; you entreat her in deference to her position, to the dignity of the office that she represents.  And I feel that the wording of the letter in response to the BOT’s decision on MVP could also have been written in the same spirit: the spirit of entreaty and deference.

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LADLAD party list and Comelec: Some scriptural reflections on the real meaning of discrimination

I.  Comelec, CHR, and LADLAD

A group of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT), led by Danton Remoto, an English professor in Ateneo de Manila University, asked the Commission on Elections to approve as a Party List their group named LADLAD, a Filipino word which means “public display of homosexuality”.  The Comelec, led by the presiding commissioner Nicodemo C. Ferrer, dismissed the petition on moral grounds:

Petitioner should be denied accreditation not only for advocating immoral doctrines but likewise for not being truthful when it is said that “it or any of its party list representatives have not violated or failed to comply with laws rules and regulations relating to the elections.”

Furthermore, should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith.  Lehman Strauss, a famous bible preacher and writer in the U.S.A., said in one article that “older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth.”  As an agency of the government, ours too is the State’s avowed duty in Sec. 13, Article II of the Constitution to protect our youth from moral and spiritual degradation.

We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the greater number of our people, especially the youth.

(Scrbd article.  Note page 6 is missing.  This page contains I think the Oct. 2, 2008 detailed comment of the Comelec).

The LADLAD complained that this is gender discrimination.  And the Commission on Human Rights supports their claim:

CHR said however that the poll body’s decision “smacks of prejudice and discrimination.”  “There is or can be no basis in law to deny the registration of the party, directly or indirectly, on the grounds of homosexuality, much less on homosexuality equated to immorality. To make assertions based on their homosexuality is patently discriminatory,” she said.  “Homosexuality is not a counterculture. It is part of the diversity of Philippine culture. Homosexuals are part of the Filipino family and unavoidably must be part of our politics,” CHR chair Leila De Lima was quoted in the statement as saying.  “There is no governmental policy which characterizes homosexuality as illegal nor immoral,” De Lima said. (ABS-CBN)

II.  Discrimination in Scriptures: Clean and Unclean, Holy and Profane, Good and Evil

Discrimination has been defined as something bad, so that we have now invented phrases like racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and age discrimination.  These things should not happen, modern society says.  We must not discriminate.

But let us consider the etymology of discriminate and discrimination:

Discriminate.1620s, from L. discriminare “to divide,” from discrimen, derived n. from discernere (see discern). The adverse (usually racial) sense is first recorded 1866, Amer.Eng. Positive sense remains in discriminating (adj.) “possessing discernment” (1792).

Discrimination. 1640s, “the making of distinctions,” from L. discriminationem, noun of action from discriminare (see discriminate). Especially in a prejudicial way, based on race, 1866, Amer.Eng. Meaning “discernment” is from 1814.

To discriminate is to divide, to make distinctions, to discern.  If you read the book of Genesis, you will see that God is discriminating: God placed order in chaos by separating light from darkness, day and night, heaven and sea, sea and land, animals and fishes, plants and birds, male and female.  Creation can never be accomplished without discrimination.  And God said that it is good.

If you read the book of Exodus and Leviticus, you will see that God gave a precise rules for determining whether something is clean or unclean.  Thus Israelites have all these rules regarding water potability (don’t drink a cup of water if an insect falls on it), food (carnivores and and non-fishes cannot be eaten), leprosy (suspected lepers are quarantined), etc.

Why all these rules for clean and unclean?  Moses said to Aaron:

You must be able to distinguish between what is sacred and what is profane, between what is clean and what is unclean; you must teach the Israelites all the laws that the LORD has given them through Moses. (Lv 10:10-11)

Thus, the laws to distinguish clean and clean are laid out as a pedagogical tool to help the Israelites to know what is sacred and profane.  If you are a teacher, you will first teach students the arithmetic rules like 2 apples + 3 apples = 5 apples before you teach them the algebraic rules of 2x + 3x = 5x.  You first start with something concrete, then you go to something abstract.  Since God is a good teacher, he first teaches Israelites clean and unclean things and actions, then He teaches them why Israel is a holy nation and not like the other nations, why the priest is holier than the levites, why the Bread of the Presence and the Ark of the Covenant are holy, etc.  Material to Spiritual.  This is the divine pedagogy.

After teaching the distinction between clean and unclean, holy and profane, Moses commanded Aaron to teach all the laws that God has given them through Moses.  This is the third step: moral.  What is good?  What is evil?  These questions are answered by the Ten Commandments.

The sixth and ninth commandments are “Though shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”  On these two laws we can group all the sexual sins and among them are on homosexuality:

You shall not have carnal relations with your neighbor’s wife, defiling yourself with her. You shall not offer any of your offspring to be immolated to Molech, 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. (Lv 18:20-23)

Notice that adultery, abortion, homosexuality, and bestiality are enumerated together. Adultery and abortion are the ones that will result if the Reproductive Health Bill pushes through; homosexuality if LADLAD becomes a Party List; and bestiality will not be far behind.

And God said:

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. You, however, whether natives or resident aliens, must keep my statutes and decrees forbidding all such abominations by which the previous inhabitants defiled the land; otherwise the land will vomit you out also for having defiled it, just as it vomited out the nations before you. Everyone who does any of these abominations shall be cut off from among his people. Heed my charge, then, not to defile yourselves by observing the abominable customs that have been observed before you. I, the LORD, am your God. (Lv 18:24-30)

If Filipinos do not wish to vomited out of the land called the Philippines, God says that we must never do these abominations.  God is faithful to his promises.  Let us reject the Reproductive Health Bill and not allow LADLAD as a Party List.

So is the Comelec discriminating towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders (LGBT) in LADLAD?  Yes, Comelec is indeed discriminating, because God Himself is discriminating.  We must purge the evil in our midst.

The Ateneo Dollhouse: an enclave of homosexuals, lesbians, and straights in Ateneo de Manila University

Today I read a copy of the Guidon, the official student publication of the Ateneo de Manila University.  I found an article there entitled, “New Queen Mother aims for buzz, style, and substance.”  Here are some excerpts:

“ANG PAGGAWA ng eksena (creating a buzz)” is newly elected Queen Mother Patch Buenaventura’s goal for the Dollhouse.  Initially comprised of homosexuals, the Dollhouse has become a flamboyant mix of lesbians, homosexuals, and straight males and females.  Their popular hangout, which Buenaventura dubs the “Dollhouse Arena,” is the group of benches beside the Rizal Mini Theater, across Kostka Hall.  The Dollhouse held their annual Miting de Avance and elections on August 7….

This year, in line with the Barbie doll’s 50th anniversary, the Dolhouse celebrated with a Barbie theme.  Candidates and Dollhousers wore bright colors and a lot of hot pink.  They also portrayed different types of Barbie such as Office Rocker Barbie, Ballerina Barbie, and Industrial Barbie….

My main purpose is to make dollhouse more popular–na gumawa ng eksena (to create a buzz),” said Buenaventura.  “I [want] to use my being an attention whore to something more substantive, to the glory of the Dollhouse.” (Guidon Aug 2009, p. 3)….

For [FBuddy] Buenviaje, this “noise” creates awareness for the gay community.  “It’s a shout out that there are really gays in the world and close-minded people should get used to it.”….

Gays and lesbians, said Buenaventura, have always been subject to prejudice and discrimination.  “This way, when we send them out, they’re strong, they could speak up and defend themselves.”  He added that Dollhouse makes the memberes more assertive.  “They have an emotional investment here.”

I think Ateneo de Manila is trying to catch up with Georgetown University, another Jesuit University, who already has a Gay Campus Centre with a Homosexual Director.  The Dollhouse is not still an official center in the Ateneo, but they have claimed a patch of land in Ateneo to be their own and the Administration is not minding them.

But the Gay lobby in Ateneo is making its presence felt in the Ateneo.  You see this in the books published in the Ateneo de Manila University Press, such as Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in Diaspora (Philippine Edition).  The English and Filipino classes are also permeated with gay and lesbian themes.  This is not surprising, since Danton Remoto, an English professor in Ateneo, is the chairman of Ladlad, the national organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Filipinos.  He is running for Senator of the Republic of the Philippines this 2010 elections.

The Dead Jesuits Society: Sodality, Rosary, and Angelus

The dead Jesuits must be turning in their graves–or rather, they look down from the heavens and gaze with sadness at what Ateneo de Manila had become.  Ateneo de Manila, the foremost Jesuit University in the Philippines, was once the bastion of Catholic Faith before the World War II.  It is said that at that time no one can run as the school’s student council president unless he is a member of the Sodality of Our Lady.  But the devotion to our Lady is dying at the Ateneo.  The rosary is now rarely said here: in all my years here in the Ateneo, I can count with my fingers the masses that I have seen that started with a rosary.

When was the last time that a Jesuit priest in Ateneo teaches what the Catechism teaches about homosexuality?

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 prodceed from a genuine affective and sexual complemetarity.  Under no circumstances can they be approved.

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.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity.  By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinteresed friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Art. 2357-2359)

I once brought up years ago in the School Forum the removal of the Angelus at 12 nn and 6 pm.  Fr. Danny Huang, S.J., who was the Jesuit provincial at that time, asked who removed it.  Someone said it was a Jesuit who asked it to be removed.  Now, I can hear the the bells of the Church of the Gesu for the Angelus.  But the bells are tiny: they sing beautiful music but they cannot command silence.  And if you are standing in the college area amidst the noise of the students, you won’t hear the bells.  Maybe it is time to ring the heritage bells from the Old Ateneo de Manila Campus in Padre Faura for the Angelus.  It is time to ring the bells.