Even Saruman the Wise supports on the RH Bill: Ateneo professors and students endorses the bill

The number of professors who endorsed the RH Bill in their position paper now rose from 160 to 192.  Even after Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ distanced Ateneo from the faculty endorsers of the bill, another declaration of support for the RH Bill was signed by Ateneans for RH with 1465 from Ateneo de Manila University, 79 from Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan University), and 21 from Ateneo de Zamboanga University.  At such news we should rejoice and be glad: the depth and extent of dissent in Ateneo de Manila University on the Catholic teaching on contraception is now laid bare. I hope more students will add their names on the list so that the Catholic Church hierarchy can fully assess whether Ateneo still deserves to be called a Catholic university or not.

What we are seeing is a declaration of open rebellion against the Catholic Church, which began more than 40 years ago when clerics and bishops rebelled against Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.  What was once whispered in seminary halls became taught in the classrooms.  And what was taught in the classrooms became preached at the rooftops of cyberspace.

The pro-RH camp is now emboldened.  They have Ateneo professors and students supporting their cause–the elite thinkers of the country with more than 150 years of intellectual history.  The Jesuits, the Church’s shock troopers and loyal soldiers in the bygone years, appear weak and helpless in the face of the mounting opposition.  And even they themselves are divided.  There is no more a Padre Pastells who will debate with Rizal on the truth of the Catholic Faith or a Padre Faura who will scold Rizal for his heretical views.  The pro-RH groups are already at the Gate 2 and they demand that  the Church surrender to the modern world by embracing contraception and the RH Bill.

Saruman the Wise says it best:

And listen, Gandalf, my old friend and helper!… I said we, for we it may be, if you will join with me.  A new Power is rising.  Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all.  There is no hope left in Elves or dying Numenor.  This then is one choice before you, before us.  We may join with that Power.  It would be wise, Gandalf.  There is hope that way.  Its victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it.  As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it.  We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends.  There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means. (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 291)

What does the RH Bill promise us?  It is the great Ring of Power: it will reduce poverty, promote responsible parenthood, and lead to good governance–the high and ultimate purpose that our country has striven hard to accomplish only to be derailed by the Catholic Church and the Anti-RH groups.  The RH Bill promises us a “choice”–to order our married life as we will.  We can bide our time until we are financially and emotionally ready to have children.  We can justify to ourselves that we are obeying our conscience whenever we use the condom or the pill, and ignore many things that pester our thoughts, such as the possibility of getting pregnant, because the unwanted child that can easily be disposed by morning-after pills or abortion. Each child should be a child we want to have and not a child by accident.  And as we use the pills more and more through the help of RH Bill, our power over our bodies will also grow, and we shall be like the gods who define what is good and what is evil through three criteria–me, myself, and I.  We can forget about what the Catholic Church says–it’s a Medieval institution out of touch of the modern-day Filipinos.  Mortal sin?  There is no sense of talking about “a sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”  These are scholastic definitions and modern man has no need for such rubbish.  And if the government passes the RH Bill, millions of dollars from UN and US will pour into the Philippines.  The poor shall be no more.  There will be a high quality of life for all.  By embracing the RH Bill, we remain as Pro-Life as ever.  There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means.

Wonderful words befitting of Saruman the Wise. But his voice has already lost its charm: the end does not justify the means.

For my students, friends, and colleagues in Ateneo who support the RH Bill, let me end with the words of Gandalf to Saruman:

What have you to say that you did not say at our last meeting? Or perhaps you have things to unsay? (Two Towers, p. 205)

Sincerely yours,

The Monk’s Hobbit

Archbishop Chito Tagle to receive the pallium in Rome as the new Archbishop of Manila

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle

22 June 2012

Memo to    :    The University Community

Subject    :    University OIC


I leave Manila on 23 June 2012 to give a conference talk titled “Climate
Change and Agricultural Life” at the Fourth World Congress on Rural
Life.  The World Congress is being organized in Rome by the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace, and the International Catholic Rural
Association.  After the conference, I shall be at the Jesuit Curia to be
with my Jesuit brothers there and to attend the Pope’s bestowal of the
pallium* upon Abp Chito Tagle (ADMU Class 1977), the new archbishop of

Fr Jose M Cruz SJ, Vice President for University and Global Relations,
will be Officer-in-Charge from 23 June to 3 July 2012.

My office has my coordinates while I am in Rome.

Your prayers please for safe and restful travels.  Thank you.

Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ

Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ’s welcome message as the new President of Ateneo de Manila University

Below is my transcription of Fr. Jett’s welcome message as shown in this You Tube video.


Let me welcome everyone to this new school year. I am glad to be back. I came from Mindanao. But now that this is my new mission, I look forward to serving you, to serving this nation through the Ateneo. I’d like to welcome our new students, especially our freshmen. I go with you in needing to be familiarized again with the Ateneo.

What woulde excite me of course is this possibility that we will continue to rebuild this nation, our people. The Ateneo has always been instrumental in the life of this nation. And therefore, I will continue what Fr. Ben has started. This has been embodied those three themes of the sesquicentennial: celebrating excellence, deepening spirituality, and building the nation. I hope that we will put together…I am hopeful and that is not just a function of youth. I think this is an opportunity to make lasting change and we should not miss it. We should seize this opportunity. Many of our alumni are now in positions of power, of leadership. We can make a difference. I am sure that—I know that this will take several administrations, but change is on the way. And therefore let us be open to change as well. I hope that the Ateneo can truly make a difference in the lives of our people, especially our poor.

This is the place where I learned to dream, to dream of greater things, to do greater things. I honestly believe this is the place where heroes are made, where our heroic desires are nurtured. And so I plan to just build that environment and continue to nurture those great dreams for ourserlves, for our people, and as we say, for the greater glory of God. I also believe that this is not just ours. This is not mine. This is God’s. And so God himself has a stake in what happens to this great institution. So I’ll also pray that we will cooperate, we will be open to His action in us and in the world.

So my wish right now—well, what I’ll do is I’ll be listening and I will try to meet you as best as I can, as often as I can, to listen to you, to listen to your dreams and your desires as well [….] I hope to discern some patterns. And at some point we will initiate some change. And I hope you will be open to change, because this change is good and it would be for the better. As we say in magis, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, we’ll never settle for what is merely good, for what is merely mediocre. Tomorrow will always be better and we will give what is better.

So Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. And welcome!


How Fr. Jett Villarin, S.J. buried “El Nino”, the aborted fetus

Fr. Jett Villarin visited my office today together with Nino Uy.   I was glad to see him.

“How is the hermit doing?” he asked.  “I heard you are redesigning the building.”

I smiled.

We talked about the lightning strikes that circled around the building before, the Kyushu University’s new FMCW radar which I am managing, and the renovation of the building that I am preparing to transform it into the Kyushu University’s SERC (Space Environment Resesarch Center) subcenter.

On their way out, Fr. Jett looked at the mango trees across the fields.

“I see many fruits.  It was not like that before.”

“Yes, Father.” Nino said. “There are many mangoes this year.”

“Is Nino still there?” Fr. Jett asked.

I thought its a joke, because Nino is beside us.

“Yes, Father.” Nino said.

“Who is Nino?” I asked.

And Fr. Jett narrated his tale:

“We found an aborted fetus there years ago.  It was wrapped in swaddling clothes.  The mother tried to burn the child to remove all traces.  When the guards saw the smoke, they rushed here.  The mother was gone.  The fetus was half-burnt.  The fetus was large, about a foot long.  We can already see his genitalia.  Kawawa talaga (a pity).  We buried him and nicknamed him ‘El Nino’.”

Fr. Jett and Nino said goodbye.  They went straight to the Climate Studies Division building.

Fr. Jett is Manila Observatory’s authority in climate change.  I heard he once led the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  This is the reason why he is interested in La Nina and El Nino.  This is where he got the name for the aborted fetus.

San Ignacio: Noon at Ngayon

(St. Ignatius: Then and Now)

by Fr. Jett Villarin, S.J.

Based on a talk delivered at the Klima Conference Room, Manila Observatory,
Ateneo de Manila University Campus, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines

28 July 2008

I.  Bukas

Before talking about St. ignatius then and now (noon at ngayon), let me start first with tomorrow (bukas) because Ignatius always begins his Spiritual Exercises with the end, the purpose of human life, as stated in his introductory section, the Principle and Foundation:

Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls.[1]

This thinking about the end helps us to test the spirits, to discern.  Ignatius listed four methods for discernment.  The first is the rational way: what are the pros and cons?  The second is to imagine someone like you asking for advice regarding the same problem: what will you say to him?  The third is to imagine you are laid in a funeral: what will other people will say about you?  And the fourth is to imagine you are in front of our Lord on Judgement Day: what will He say to you?[2]

II. Noon

A. Conversion

Ignatius was born in a Spanish aristocrat family.  To be Spanish then is to be Catholic, and Ignatius was raised Catholic: son of the Church, servant of the Crown.

In 1521, Ignatius’s was tasked to defend the city of Pamplona against the French.  The Spaniards were already losing and the most sensible thing to do was to surrender.  But he would not, and he continued to rally his men, exhorting them to fight, even after a cannonball smashed his leg.  The French admired his courage.  They placed him in a stretcher and brought him home.

In his home Ignatius asked for books on chivalry: kings and knights, honor and courage, love and death.  But there were no books to read except the Bible and the Lives of the Saints.  Reluctantly, he read them.  He read about Love dying on the cross.  He read about courage before fire, rack, and sword. He read about a kingdom that is not of this world.  And his eyes were opened: What would it profit him if he gains the whole world yet suffer the loss of his own soul?  Or what exchange shall he give for his soul?[3] Ignatius got up from his mat and left.  No king shall he now serve except the King of Kings.  No kingdom shall he now aspire for except that of Heaven.

Ignatius went on a pilgrimage and passed by the town of Manressa.  He planned to stay a there few days, but he ended up staying for ten months.  He exchanged his rich clothes for that of a pilgrim and offered his sword to his Lady, the Blessed Virgin, as a pledge of love, devotion, and service.  In a cave he contemplated his sins and confessed them to a priest—day after day, week after week, month after month—not sparing one sin, however small.  His scruples he could hardly get past.

Beside a river, Ignatius had a vision: he saw God laboring in the world.  He then understood that God wanted him also to labor in the world, outside the walls of his cloister.  Where will he go?  To labor in the world requires competence and this can only be acquired by studying.  So Ignatius left his cave and travelled to Europe’s best university: the University of Paris.

B. Jesuits

Ignatius wanted to become a priest.  And to be a priest, he must study Latin.  The University of Paris, however, did not group students according to age but to ability.  So Ignatius, vassal of kings and captain of men, suffered himself to be seated with little lads learning Latin.  He was thirty-five.

In University of Paris Ignatius met two of his future companions: Peter Fabre and Francis Xavier.  Blessed Peter Faber became the Apostle of Germany at the rise of the Protestant Reformation and the eve of Council of Trent, winning many souls back to the Catholic Faith[4].  St. Francis Xavier became the Apostle of the Indies, converting thousands to Christianity in India, Malacca, Moluccas, and Japan[5];.  Faber died in the hands of Ignatius at forty; Xavier, in China’s Shangchuan Island at forty-six.  Both died in their labors.  Ignatius did not become a missionary like his two friends, but he sat in his office as the Jesuit Superior General in Rome, directing his highly-trained legions loyal and obedient the Pope, in the conquest of the world for Christ, for the salvation of souls.

After Ignatius’s death, the Jesuits numbered a thousand; now, four and a half centuries later, about twenty thousand[6]. The first Jesuits worked in hospitals; some preached in public squares. To train future priests, seminaries were built, which grew into universities. Many Jesuits became university professors; some confessors to kings; others organizers of the peasants. Where the need is greatest, there are the Jesuits.

Unlike Dominicans and Franciscans, the Jesuits do not wear a monk’s habit but the garb of diocesan priests: a black cassock, as Ignatius required[7].  The cassock may be tainted with scandal in Ignatius’s time—and even now, at the outbreak of clerical sexual abuse.  But wear it they must.  To wear the cassock is to be a sign of contradiction.  To wear the cassock is to carry a cross.  Where the scandal is greatest, there are the Jesuits.

III. Ngayon

A. Jesuits’s Global Mission

The Jesuit mission is global.  Did not God labored in the world?  Did not Christ commanded his apostles to preach the Gospel throughout the world?[8] As Ignatius said, “Our vocation is to travel through the world and to live in any part of it whatsoever.” [9] Because Ignatius wanted to deal with the universal good, which is always the greater good, the Jesuit Superior General Kolvenbach said that the mission for Ignatius could not be anything but the mission of a universal apostolic body, gifted with global apostolic availability.[10]

In the 35th General Congregation, the second decree is entitled A Fire that Kindles Other Fires: Rediscovering our Charism.[11] The fire here is the fire of the Society’s original inspiration, the fire whose heart is Christ.  Jesuits know who they are by renewing their love for Christ:

There [at La Storta], “placed” with God’s Son and called to serve him as he carries his cross, Ignatius and the first companions respond by offering themselves for the service of faith to the Pope, Christ’s Vicar on earth.  The Son, the one image of God, Christ Jesus, unites them and sends them out to the whole world.  He is the image at the very heart of Jesuit existence today; and it is his image that we wish to communicate to others as best as we can.[12]

Carrying the image of Christ as a banner, the image of the Sacred Heart aflame[13][14], the Jesuits ventured into the remotest corners of the world—Miguel Andrade (1624) crossed the heights of Himalayas in search for Tibet[15]; into the crossroads of ideologies—Miguel Pro (1927) was shot in Mexico as he raised his hands in imitation of Christ, shouting, “Viva Cristo Rey!”[16]; and into the frontiers of science—Christopher Clavius (1612) formulated the Gregorian system of leap years that we still use today.[17]

Today the new context that the Society of Jesus live is marked by “profound changes, acute conflicts, and new possibilities.”[18] In the words of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, as quoted in the 35th General Congregation:

Your Congregation is being held during a period of great social, economic and political change; of conspicuous ethical, cultural and environmental problems, of conflicts of all kinds; yet also of more intense communication between peoples, of new possibilities for knowledge and dialogue, of profound aspirations for peace. These are situations that deeply challenge the Catholic Church and her capacity for proclaiming to our contemporaries the word of hope and salvation.[19][20]

The Church needs the Jesuits.  The Church relies on the Jesuits.  The Church turns to the Jesuits.  And Benedict XVI quoted Paul VI’s 1974 address in the 34th General Congregation[20]:

Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, at the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there has been and there is confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, here also there have been, and there are, Jesuits.

B. Manila Observatory

Let me end my talk with three challenges for the Manila Observatory, as the Jesuit presence here diminish:

    1. Interdisplinarity. We cannot anymore work in isolation—physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, economists, managers. The present problems in climate, for example, require an interdisciplinary approach.
    2. Solutions. Monitoring is not enough: we can monitor rainfall, pollution, temperature, and sea levels forever. We need solutions. We have to engage the government and other insititutions to craft better policies.
    3. Love. We must cultivate our love for Christ. At the end of our life, the Just Judge will ask us only one question, the same question he asked Peter [21]:“Do you love me more than these?” And to which we hope to reply, “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”


Disclaimer: I transcribed this talk from my notes and my memory of Fr. Villarin’s words. I added some notes, quotes, and references for clarity. –Quirino M. Sugon Jr. email: qsugon@observatory.ph

About the Author:  Fr. Jose Ramon “Jett” T. Villarin, S.J., is the present president of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.  He is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics at the Ateneo de Manila University and is a member of the Manila Observatory’s Board of Trustees.   He finished his Ph. D. in Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a member of the American Geophysical Union.


[1] George E. Ganss, The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius: A Translation and Commentary, 2nd Indian Ed. (Gujaratsahitya Prakash, Anand, Gujarat, 1992), p. 32.

[2] Ibid., pp. 77–79.

[3] c.f. Mt 16:26.

[4] Suau, Pierre, “Bl. Peter Faber.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11. (New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1911) 12 Dec. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11767a.htm>.

[5] Astrain, Antonio, “St. Francis Xavier,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6 (New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1909). 12 Dec. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06233b.htm>.

[6] ”Jesuits acknowledge drop in vocations,” Catholic News Agency (10 May 2006). 12 Dec. 2008 <http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=6687>

[7] James Martin, S.J., “Father General: Out of Habit,” In All Things, a blog of The America Magazine (posted 2008-03-08 19:28:00.0). 12 Dec 2008 <http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=6687>

[9] Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, “Opening talk of the Father General,” in Loyola 2000: Corresponsible in Service of Christ’s Mission (Press and Information Office, Rome, 22 September 2000). 12 Dec. 2008 <http://users.online.be/~sj.eur.news/doc/Loyola2000e.htm>

[10] Ibid.

[11]“A fire that kindles other fires: Rediscovering our charism,” Decree 2 of the 35th General Congregation (7 March 2008). <http://www.sjweb.info/35/documents/Decrees.pdf>

[12] Ibid., Article 3.

[13] It was during the octave of Corpus Christi, 1675, probably on 16 June, when Jesus said to Sr. Mary Margaret Alacoque, “Behold the Heart that has so loved men…. instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude …..” and asked her for a feast of reparation of the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, bidding her consult Father de la Colombière, then superior of the small Jesuit house at Paray.  The mission of propagating the new devotion was especially confided to the Society of Jesus. Jean Bainvel. “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910). 12 Dec. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07163a.htm>.

[14] “As I express the wish that the 50th anniversary will give rise to an ever more fervent response to love of the Heart of Christ in numerous hearts, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Father, and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus, who are still very active in promoting this fundamental devotion.” Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI on Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical ”Haurietis Aquas” to the Most Reverend Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Vatican, 15 May 2006). 12 Dec. 2008 <http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20060515_50-haurietis-aquas_en.html>

[15] In 1624, the Portuguese Jesuit Antonio de Andrade, became the first European to cross the Himalayas. China History Forum (posted by Southern Barbarian 9 Jul 2006). 12 Dec. 2008 <http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/lofiversion/index.php/t12548.html>

[16]“Miguel Pro,” Wikipedia. 12 Dec 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Pro>

[17] “Christopher Christopher Clavius, S.J. and his Gregorian calendar,” (Mathematics Department, Fairfield University, Fairfield CT). 12 Dec 2008 <http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/jmac/sj/scientists/clavius.htm> (broken link)

[18] “A new context for mission,” in Decree 3 of the 35th General Congregation (7 March 2008). See Ref. [11].

[19] Ibid.

[20] Pope Benedict XVI, “Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Fathers of the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus” (Clementine Hall, Thursday, 21 February 2008). 12 Dec 2008 <http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/february/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080221_gesuiti_en.html>

[21] c.f. Jn 21:15–19.