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MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University served notice on Monday it joins Catholic leaders in withholding support for the RH bill, noting serious concern over some provisions seen as infringing on constitutional rights, while respecting the individual views of 192 faculty members who signed a position paper endorsing the measure.
The “Memo to the University Community” signed by Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, university president, was posted on the ADMU’s web site, days after the faculty members, in two batches of signatures, said they backed House Bill 4244, the since re-named Responsible Parenthood bill. The official ADMU statement expressed appreciation for the seriousness with which the individual teachers tackled the process of discernment on one of the most complex and divisive pieces of legislation ever.
However, the Ateneo leadership said that if and when the bill passes, “we should neither hesitate to bring to the judiciary whatever legal questions we may have nor cease to be vigilant in ensuring that no coercion takes place in implementation.”
Below is the full text of the university’s posting:
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
20 August 2012
Memo to: The University Community
Subject: HB 4244
Together with our leaders in the Catholic Church, the Ateneo de Manila University does not support the passage of House Bill 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill). As many of these leaders have pointed out, the present form of the proposed bill contains provisions that could be construed to threaten constitutional rights as well as to weaken commonly shared human and spiritual values.
Now that the period for amendments is about to begin, I enjoin all in the Ateneo community to continue in-depth study of the present bill, and to support amendments to remove provisions that could be ambiguous or inimical from a legal, moral or religious perspective.
In connection with this, I call attention to the 192 members of our faculty who have grappled with the underlying issues in the context of Catholic social teaching, and who have spoken in their own voice in support of the bill. Though the University must differ from their position for the reasons stated above, I appreciate their social compassion and intellectual efforts, and urge them to continue in their discernment of the common good. As there is a spectrum of viewson this ethical and public policy issue, I ask all those who are engaged in the Christian formation of our students to ensure that the Catholic position on this matter continues to be taught in our classes, as we have always done.
Should the bill with whatever amendments be passed, we should neither hesitate to bring to the judiciary whatever legal questions we may have nor cease to be vigilant in ensuring that no coercion takes place in implementation.
If there is no easy answer to the concerns that the proposed bill raises or no facile unanimity among divergent views, this only proves the complexity, depth, and sensitivity of these concerns. Nevertheless, Catholic tradition has always taught that reason and faith are not enemies but allies in the service of God’s truth. From this tradition, we can draw strength and compassion in our often tortuous journey as persons in community toward the greater glory of God and the service of God’s people.
Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ