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Fr. Bernas’ Egregious, Sanctimonious Misunderstanding

September 2, 2012

No, I strongly disagree with the claim by many pro-RH fanatics and atheists that the Catholic Church is in violation of the separation clause in the Constitution. In fact it’s the other way around. It is these pro-RH freaks and the government that seek to breach the separation clause! The Catholic Church is merely protecting its faith, doctrines and freedom of conscience! And this is what Fr. Bernas and others fail to see.

Today, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a Jesuit Catholic priest who supports the proposed RH bill and self-confessed “student of the Constitution, published a blogpost titled “Understanding Catholic Universities”.

In this blogpost that is now being circulated online, Bernas contends that the first step to understanding Catholic universities is Canon 808 of the Code of Canon Law which says: “Even if it really be Catholic, no university may bear the title or name Catholic university without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority” (emphasis Bernas’).

The maverick priest makes the following evaluation: “In that technical juridical sense, the Ateneo and almost all other institutions in the Philippines, save one perhaps, which are publicly regarded as Catholic, are not in juridical terms Catholic.  But are they Catholic in any other sense?”

He adds:

“Even Canon 808 suggests that institutions which do not have the ecclesiastical title of Catholic can in fact be “really Catholic.”  The appellation of Catholic can come from various sources.  It can come, for instance, from its origins as founded by various religious orders of men and women.  That in fact is how most Catholic institutions in the Philippines started.  The appellation also comes from what in fact they do.  For this reason these institutions are recognized as affiliated with the Church even if not “canonically Catholic.” It must also be said that a canonical title is not the litmus test for being truly Catholic.”

To support his still unclear premise, Bernas quotes Pope John Paul II who “looks for more in a Catholic university”. The quotation is as follows (emphasis Bernas’):

“A Catholic university or college must make a specific contribution to the Church and to society through high quality scientific research, in depth study of problems, and a just sense of history, together with the concern to show the full meaning of the human person regenerated in Christ, thus favoring the complete development of the person.  Furthermore, the Catholic university or college must train young men and women of outstanding knowledge who, having made a personal synthesis of faith and culture, and both capable and willing to assume tasks in the service of the community and of society in general, and to bear witness to their faith before the world.  And finally, to be what it ought to be, a Catholic college or university must set up, among its faculty and students, a real community which bears witness to a living and operative Christianity, a community where sincere commitment to scientific research and study goes together with a deep commitment to authentic Christian living.

“This is your identity.  This is your vocation. . . .  The term ‘Catholic” will never be a mere label, either added or dropped according to the pressures of varying factors.”

Then Bernas concludes: “a Catholic university is not just an institute for teaching catechism…”

First, the Pope explicitly said: “Catholic university or college must make a

Fr. Joaquin Bernas

specific contribution to the Church and to society through high quality scientific research…” And then he also said: “the Catholic university or college must train young men and women of outstanding knowledge…”

The Pope NEVER said anything about COMPROMISING the Catholic doctrines, beliefs, or dogmas.

I say, HOLY COW!

I don’t have to be a Catholic- in fact, I am a rabid atheist- to say that Bernas simply DISTORTED, MISINTERPRETED the Pope’s message.

Of course, a Catholic university is not just a venue for teaching catechism or religious doctrines, but that does not mean Catholic universities should compromise their doctrines and beliefs and should surrender their freedoms (e.g., freedom of conscience and freedom of religion) to the STATE!

It seems to me that Fr. Bernas does not understand the political context of the RH bill debate.

But I get it… I get it. Bernas’ incoherent rhetoric is still in support of his RH bill stand: that the state may destroy Catholics’ freedom of conscience, force Catholic hospitals and Catholic doctors to violate their freedom of religion and conscience, and violate citizens’ right to free speech and other freedoms.

Considering the fact that Bernas calls himself a “student of the Constitution”, I say that he’s not just misguided; he’s a clueless yet willing instrument of a greater EVIL: statism.

Again, you’re getting this from a RABID ATHEIST. Yes, I may be an atheist, but I consider myself to be more of a secularist. There’s a big difference between secularism and atheism. Atheism can be anything; it is what is being espoused by the Filipino Freefarters. Most leftists are simply atheists. In fact, most of them would like to ban religion. Wait! They did that in the past. They did not only ban religions; they also carried out wholesale political persecution of men and women of faith. Leftism does not call for the separation of church and state; it calls for the total destruction of the former in favor of a state-imposed mysticism. This is one of the primary mandates of their patron saint Karl Marx who said: “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes.” The leftists would simply like to replace religion with social mysticism in which the state or the dictator himself is to be regarded as “god” or the provider people’s needs.

Secularism does not call for the banning of all religions or the destruction of faith. It recognizes every individual’s right to worship anything. Yet it recognizes the separation of church and state. Yes, secularism is the idea behind the principle of separation of church and state that ended centuries of crusades and religious wars. Secularism means that the “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion” (according to Justice Souter).

Allow me to present an analogy to explain that Ateneo and other Catholic Universities are justified in protecting the Catholic doctrines and in asking their pro-RH professors “to go”. Consider a private entity like Cato Institute, which champions and promotes the idea of Liberty, Individualism and Capitalism, or a secular university like Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) in Guatemala, which is inspired by its mission to “teach and disseminate the ethical, legal and economic principles of a society of free and responsible persons.” Private organizations- like Cato Institute and UFM- created and organized to promote liberty and capitalism are known to oppose any form of government intervention and statist programs like the RH bill, universal healthcare, PhilHealth, etc. However, what if two or three of their members (in the case of Cato) or professors (in the case of UMF) supported a government program that is notoriously known as anti-capitalism and against individual rights? The question is NOT “can Cato or UMF fire its anti-capitalist and anti-rights members”, but “SHOULD Cato or UMF fire them?” The answer is: YES, they should. The main reason is because the anti-capitalist members no longer serve the organization’s advocacy, mission and vision.

I understand that Catholic universities are not merely instruments of Catholic education; they also have the obligation or duty to protect their religious doctrines against any form of government intrusion. When the government tells Catholic universities and hospitals to do certain things against their faith and doctrines, I believe the Catholics have the right to be outraged. Where is now the separation of church and state if the government can justifiably force Catholic institutions to go against their freedom of conscience and religious practices and doctrines?

No, I strongly disagree with the claim by many pro-RH fanatics and atheists that the Catholic Church is in violation of the separation clause in the Constitution. In fact it’s the other way around. It is these pro-RH freaks and the government that seek to breach the separation clause! The Catholic Church is merely protecting its faith, doctrines and freedom of conscience! And this is what Fr. Bernas and others fail to see.

Yes, Fr. Bernas’ RH bill illogic is just utterly dangerous to the concept of individual rights, freedom and secularism.  Perhaps his political belief was greatly influenced by Jesuit principles. The Jesuit credo is:  “Men and Women for Others”.

Bernas believes that to help others, the government may use state’s sovereign powers even if that would result in the limitation or destruction of some people’s rights and freedoms. A number of historians said that the Jesuits have Machiavellian tendencies. The Jesuits believe that the end justifies the means. Thus, any form of government intervention is good and moral so long as it benefits the poor or the ‘least advantage’.

In the eyes of Bernas, the RH bill- in spite of the fact that many of its provisions are violative of people’s free speech, of employers’ property rights, of Catholics’ freedom of conscience, and of Catholic hospitals’ and religious doctors’ freedom of religion and freedom of conscience– remains moral, good and socially necessary because it seeks to help women and the poor. So, even if the bill seeks to put the entire medical industry under state control, it remains necessary and morally justified because it is widely believed to be very beneficial to some social members.

But how could the RH bill be beneficial if it seeks to sacrifice individual rights and freedoms? Thank goodness men can never cheat reality.

There is what we call the “law of unintended consequences”. Like many welfare programs promulgated in the past, this RH program, if passed, would have lots of unintended consequences. A program that seeks to violate a religious or non-religious doctor’s freedom of conscience and to enslave him under its “pro bono” mechanism, etc., would trigger a very possible BRAIN DRAIN in the medical industry. In the United States, at least 83% of doctors, according to a report, threatened to quit their jobs because of the Obamacare’s punitive and interventionist provisions. If it could happen in the United States, it could also happen here! The only difference between American doctors and Filipino doctors is that the former know and understand that a socialized healthcare program like the Obamacare violates not merely their rights, but also their freedom of conscience. In the Philippines, the Philippine Medical Association and many well-known universities strongly support not merely the RH bill, but all socialized healthcare measures. Yes, they’re unwittingly supporting their own destroyers.

We now begin to see and understand that our very own PhilHealth Program is now being proved to be another failed government policy by the law of unintended consequences. The first to protest PhilHealth are OFWs who believe that the program is just another ponzi scheme designed to confiscate their hard-earn money. Of course, they’re 100% correct. In fact, many OFWs now call for the abolition of the welfare program.

Like Fr. Bernas, the country’s public economists support the bill on altruistic and philosophical grounds– or on the ground that it could alleviate the country’s poverty and help the poor. These Filipino economists and intellectuals are what Frederic Bastiat, a French political and legal theorist, called “bad economists” who merely see the immediate effect of a government program.

Bastiat famously said:

In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if weforesee them.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

Bad priests and bad economists… Well, they simply flock together.


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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2012 3:38

    I have generally refrained from joining the fray on the RH Bill. I have been looking for a “meta argument”, an argument that looks not just at the issue at hand, but beyond it to the philosophical implications. I think I have found it here. The fundamental issue of the RH Bill is religious freedom. It is really sad to see Jesuits surrender religious freedom in the name of a nebulous idea such as “social justice”.

  2. formerarrneowhstudent permalink
    September 2, 2012 3:38

    The so-called Liberation Theology movement resonates (or reeks) within Fr. Bernas and many of the supporters of the RH Bill esp. in the Ateneo. Christian Socialism… ugh.

  3. September 12, 2012 3:38

    They call themselves the modern Catholics. They believe more in moral relativism (aka known as political correctness and aka as cost and benefit morality – where every judgement is based on the benefit for the greater good.)

    For moral relativists, the concept of sin – sin is something that is primitively biblical.

    For moral relativists, unfairness compels one to sin.


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