ATENEO de Manila University’s support for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines opposition to the proposed Reproductive Health Bill though expected is still unfortunate and a possible portent of a coming “mini inquisition” in the venerable learning institution.

The university’s expression of support for the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to women’s empowerment came after nearly 200 members of its faculty from different colleges and academic disciplines openly supported the passage of the controversial RH Bill.

In their signed statement, the faculty members concluded that the proposed RH Bill is “rights-based; supportive of State obligations to protect and promote health under the Philippine Constitution and international covenants and conventions; and in accordance with what Filipinos want, the vast majority of whom consistently say in surveys that they support the RH Bill.”

“Most important, the RH Bill is an equity measure that aims to reduce differential access to reproductive health and family planning services and information.

It is the poor—and in particular poor women and their children—who stand to benefit the most from the passage of this bill. And shouldn’t the poor be the focal concern of any social institution, be it religion, education, or the government?”

The RH Bill, because of its emphasis on information dissemination about the different forms of family planning, including the church favored natural rhythm method, would make available to the public the power to make an informed decision.

Apparently the reactionary and feudal faction of the CBCP finds empowerment, especially of wo-men, intolerable. They urged the university, believe it or not, to investigate the faculty members for possible acts of heresy and those found guilty fired at once.

I never imagined that in this day and age when mankind is poised to colonize Mars I would still hear the local princes of the Roman Catholic Church threaten anyone with that heresy nonsense.

It seems that I have the wrong impression that heresy was swept away with the dawn of liberal enlightenment in the 19th century.

The “crime of heresy” was labeled on thousands of suspected unbelievers/doubters of the Roman Catholic doctrine and the papal infallibility whom the inquisitors tortured without mercy and slaughtered like cattle between 1184 and 1860.

And this is what the CBCP wants to do, label the professors heretics minus the accompanying torture and slaying, not due to mercy but because they are no longer that all powerful institution they used to be.

What the anti-modernity faction of the CBCP is doing is more appropriate during the dark ages when knowledge was shunned and religious superstition was accepted without a puss. I don’t know if Ateneo and Ateneans would like to be at the forefront of the local Roman Catholic Church’s march back in time.

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