Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Bravo, Rafael Dy-Liacco!

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Call it going against the grain, swimming against the current. For “popular clamor” has always been assumed to be favorable to the RH Law. “The surveys have it,” it has often been said. In a “sea of voices” in favor of the law—“objective” media included—little notice (understandably) was made of Ateneo de Manila University Theology professor Rafael Dy-Liacco. His letter of resignation from that Catholic university was drowned out even more, in fact, by the euphoria of the pro-RH advocates over the clandestine signing of the law by President Aquino. News of the secret signing broke on the same day Dy-Liacco resigned from Ateneo. That day was the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Dec. 28. Mr. Aquino, who by all indications is now a nominal Catholic, must have forgotten the meaning of that commemoration—the wholesale massacre of innocent children ordered by a tyrant in fear of losing his throne.

Dy-Liacco, a graduate of the Yale University School of Divinity, provided the contrast. Mr. Aquino’s clandestine signing, ostensibly meant to placate the Catholic Church, did not achieve its purpose.

Why Dy-Liacco resigned provides us an idea of the internal positions within Ateneo, positions that were mostly left unsaid. The university president, Fr. Jett Villarin, had earlier declared that Ateneo was against the RH bill. But that statement found no corroboration and support in the acts and actuations of the Ateneo community. Despite the statement’s repudiation of the stand of the 192 Ateneo professors who openly supported the bill, the declaration’s continued dissonance with the Ateneo Jesuits’ actuations was apparent. On the night the bill was voted on in the House of Representatives, at least three congressmen who voted yes openly announced their stand as influenced by three Jesuit priests. Are these Jesuits still Catholics? No statement came from its hierarchy. What is going on?

What is going on in Ateneo seems to be a community that is being taught to espouse a magisterium incongruent with that of the Catholic Church. This is extremely disturbing. At the very least, it is duplicitous and deceitful to parents who send their children to Ateneo for Catholic formation, only to realize that Ateneo has reneged on that important mission and has made their children openly and ferociously anti-Catholic. Only Dy-Liacco’s voice had consonance.

The dissonance was instantly patent and palpable in Dy-Liacco’s opening statement. He said he could “no longer share the path” taken by the Jesuit-led community in supporting the bill. He then noted Ateneo’s failure in rejecting “an alliance with a ‘spirit of disdain’ for the Church” that supported the passage of that bill. It is a spirit that “repudiates the Church’s holiness and, at the same time, attempts to assume it for itself (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4). It has manifested at an unusually high level of ferocity, even hatred. It has manifested in the wholesale denigration of the Church—of her teachings, of her bishops, of her catechists, and of her common lay faithful.

“Whatever material good Ateneans believe they have accomplished by supporting the passage of the bill, their failure to reject (an) alliance with that spirit, to truly seek counsel with the Church, and to make amends for and to repair whatever harm that their alliance with that spirit is doing and will do to the faith of believers in the Philippines, has not been right.

“One does not need infallible pronouncements from the Magisterium in order to willingly assent to their truth, and to their implications for any path towards genuine human fulfillment.”

Ateneo chose compromise with the spirit of animosity against the Church, instead of “collusion with it (the Church); no one can serve two masters”—those are strong words. For the audacity to be the “voice in the wilderness,” I say “Bravo, Rafael Dy-Liacco!”

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