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Miriam: CBCP threats vs schools, professors a violation of academic freedom

August 22, 2012 8:41pm

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday said that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) threat of sanctions against Catholic schools whose faculty members do not follow its stand against the Reproductive Health bill violates academic freedom.

The CBCP recently urged an investigation into Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) professors who have come out in support of the Reproductive Health bill.

"The threat of the Catholic Church to blacklist the members of the Ateneo faculty just because they took a position in favor of RH is an infringement of a Constitutional right — the right to academic freedom. You cannot dictate to a professor what to teach," Santiago said.

"I doubt very much if what is religious should be allowed to trample or downtrod the academic freedom of all intellectuals in the country," she added.

The CBCP made the stern warning after nearly 200 professors of the ADMU expressed their support for the passage of the RH bill, which the Catholic Church opposes.

Santiago, however, said that a stand against the RH bill was not part of dogma and should not be a required position for a Catholic.

"A Catholic is not supposed to just swallow everything that is recited by a cleric, whether he is a parish priest or a bishop. Only the Pope can dictate, and that is when he categorically claims that he is speaking ex cathedra, in his role as Supreme Pontiff," she said.

"Meaning to say, if you don't follow that dogma, then you are no longer a Catholic. But the Pope never exercised that power with respect to reproductive health, or population control, or responsible parenthood," she added.

She likewise said that such a message from the CBCP is "backward-looking."

"Are we going back to the Middle Ages? Is this again the clericalism we knew from the Spanish regime? I don't think so. The Catholic Church will make itself obsolete from the mainstream if it adopts this attitude," she said. — BM, GMA News




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