Saturday, January 14, 2012

What is happening to De La Salle University - Manila?

" is evident that besides the teaching, research and services common to all Universities, a Catholic University, by institutional commitment, brings to its task the inspiration and light of the Christian message. In a Catholic University, therefore, Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance with the proper nature and autonomy of these activities. In a word, being both a University and Catholic, it must be both a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge, and an academic institution in which Catholicism is vitally present and operative" 

 -- Bl. John Paul II,
Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities Ex Corde Ecclesiae (#14)
(August 15, 1990)

...Again it is the inalienable right as well as the indispensable duty of the Church, to watch over the entire education of her children, in all institutions, public or private, not merely in regard to the religious instruction there given, but in regard to every other branch of learning and every regulation in so far as religion and morality are concerned.

Nor should the exercise of this right be considered undue interference, but rather maternal care on the part of the Church in protecting her children from the grave danger of all kinds of doctrinal and moral evil. Moreover this watchfulness of the Church not merely can create no real inconvenience, but must on the contrary confer valuable assistance in the right ordering and well-being of families and of civil society; for it keeps far away from youth the moral poison which at that inexperienced and changeable age more easily penetrates the mind and more rapidly spreads its baneful effects. For it is true, as Leo XIII has wisely pointed out, that without proper religious and moral instruction "every form of intellectual culture will be injurious; for young people not accustomed to respect God, will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life, and never having learned to deny themselves anything. they will easily be incited to disturb the public order."

The extent of the Church's mission in the field of education is such as to embrace every nation, without exception, according to the command of Christ: "Teach ye all nations;" and there is no power on earth that may lawfully oppose her or stand in her way...

-- Pius XI
Encyclical on Christian Education Divini Illius Magistri # 23 - 25
(December 31, 1929)

The students should be encouraged to piety, fear of God, and horror of sin. They should be exhorted to frequent the sacraments. Sufficient time should be given by the students to the examination of conscience and the reflections. Teachers should be trained and instructed in the proper manner of speaking to and of exhorting students. 

-- St. John Baptist De La Salle
The Conduct of the Christian Schools

The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in De La Salle University - Manila. Originally dedicated in 1939 as the Chapel of St. Joseph, 16 Christian Brothers were killed here by the Japanese on February 12, 1945. Photo source.

One of the dirty secrets of contemporary Filipino Catholicism is the subversion of Catholic education in many Filipino Catholic colleges and universities. In many of these institutes of higher education, orthodox Catholicism is openly mocked and students who hold fast to its tenets risk ostracism and unfair treatment from their teachers and peers. It is the opinion of this author that, at present, it is frequently safer to educate Filipino Catholic youths in secular or state-run institutes of higher education than in their "Catholic" counterparts, many of which are Catholic in name only and positively promote heterodox or watered-down versions of the Catholic faith.

However, in this as in many other areas of concern in the Catholic Church in the Philippines, few dare raise their voices; it seems that silence and smugness continue to dominate. Unlike in the United States and (to a much lesser extent) in Western Europe, where orthodox Catholic laity have formed vigorous movements to counteract the dominance of secularist ideas and values in Catholic higher education, and where orthodox Catholics have founded their own Catholic colleges and universities as beacons of doctrinal fidelity, the Philippines' Catholic community largely continues to live in a state of denial regarding the real state of its higher educational system.

One of the worst-hit in the wave of secularization that has overwhelmed Filipino Catholic education is De La Salle University - Manila. I myself have long heard about the strength of radical liberal and atheistic ideologies within its walls, to the detriment of orthodox Catholicism. Fortunately, with the recent (January 8, 2012) publication of the article below, there can be no more denying that orthodox Catholicism has become a persecuted entity within that university.

Some of the most fervent and joyful Catholics whom I've met are alumni of this university. It is my hope that they and their fellow alumni will ask the right questions and do something about the deterioration of the Catholic faith within their beloved alma mater. Institutions go through good and bad times, and there is no reason why De La Salle University cannot, once more, become a bastion not just of academic excellence, but of Catholic orthodoxy as well.

My comments in dark blue.
January 8, 2012 By Juan Batalla under University 
Bernie*, a typical Catholic Lasallian, is having doubts with his faith. His friends, technically Catholics and Christians like him, invite him to go on drinking binges periodically, tell him in detail about their sexual encounters, and laugh at him whenever he mentions something so sensitive as prayer. 
When asked about his personal beliefs, Bernie admits that faith has been a matter of passive obedience for him since childhood. He has been receiving Sacraments without an active, deliberate understanding of its value, and looks at Mass as an interruption to an otherwise lazy Sunday morning. 
Bernie’s condition of relative detachment from the religious sentiments of the Church is not an uncommon thing. The way that Lasallians are exposed to the Church in the Catholic environment and the end result of such exposure (including authentic religious commitment) may not be achieving the desired effects of formation. 
“They are not too expressive of their faith,” shares Andylyn Simeon, director of the Lasallian Pastoral Office (LSPO). “It is uncool to express being Catholic in the University. Inside the classroom, the sentiment is generally anti-Catholic. [A passionate Catholic] feels that he is alone, unable to defend his faith [upon encountering anti-religious sentiments]." (The question really is, why have the Christian Brothers allowed this anti-Catholic sentiment to fester, develop and dominate in what is supposed to be a Catholic university?)
Religiosity and authenticity 
While the University is in the precarious position of upholding in its students the core value of religio, or Faith, it is not something that falls under the direct responsibility of the University, by the nature of its social function. 
“Faith is not the monopoly of the University,” clarifies Dr. Eduardo Domingo, chairperson of the Theology and Religious Education (TRED) Department. “In fact, the University or any Catholic school is only one of the support groups that help individuals and families form, develop and mature in their faith.” 
Given this, Domingo explains that the family is the unit with a direct responsibility over the faith, growth and maturity of the individual. “The real challenge on the part of the University is when parents do not fulfill their roles in terms of their responsibility to the faith life of their children, as it becomes difficult for the University to fashion an appropriate solution.”  
(Has anyone ever claimed that faith is the monopoly of the University? This is a strawman of the position of orthodox Catholics regarding the role of the Catholic university. It is also true that parents are the primary educators of children, and have the primary duty of passing on the faith to their children. However, a Catholic university is still supposed to be one of the primary assistants of parents in the Catholic Christian formation of the students entrusted to its care, and the fact that the parents of these students frequently fail in their duty to properly educate their children is no excuse for the University to abdicate its role, or to plead that it's not its job to ensure that students receive adequate formation in accordance with the teachings of the Church.)
Brittle pillars 
Even if a Lasallian Catholic should have an authentic faith, it comes under fire from many influences. In the University, beyond peer pressure of vices, the academic environment plays its own role in breaking often weak moral foundations. (And why is this situation even allowed to continue? Many students in La Salle are enrolled there presumably because their parents want them to receive a Catholic education. Are the parents of these students aware that they are actually sending their children into an anti-Catholic environment?)
A research paper written by DLSU students for an international academic forum last January (last academic year) conducted an analysis of DLSU Catholic students on their awareness of basic Catholic foundation and morals, and the application of said foundation. Around 65.6 percent of respondents in the said research said that they could explain their faith, signifying an awareness of basic theological concepts and Church tradition. 
Interviews conducted with these respondents, however, showed that such ‘basic understanding’ was not thorough, although ‘backed by a self-proclaimed prescription to Catholic moral values’. Discrepancies between results showed that DLSU students may also adhere to viewpoints contrary to the Church’s, especially with regard to contraception and death penalty. 
Possible repercussions of otherwise shallow exposure to Catholic intellectual life in the University includes a conscious reversion in attitude towards the Church due to an inability to stand for Church arguments or hold fast in faith. 
Since his Introductory Philosophy (INTFILO) class last term, Matthew’s* personal ideals in religion were understandably shaken. “Being in [that philosophy class] last term, I have come to form some serious doubts and questions towards my religion.” 
Matthew testifies that the questioning phase brought on by INTFILO naturally sways Lasallians, often receiving their first exposure of philosophy in college. 
(College students cannot and should not be expected to have the thorough knowledge of advanced philosophy and theology needed to comprehensively defend the teachings of the Church against their own professors. Any professor worth his degree knows this. That's why these youths are in college in the first place: they need to augment their knowledge. That many students in La Salle feel pressured to drop their Catholic faith simply because they "can't defend their beliefs" under the withering rhetorical fire of their professors bespeaks of the existence of an intolerant form of rationalism on campus. This kind of rationalism insists that any point that cannot be defended by an individual should be rejected or scorned by said individual: a point that would ultimately make all pedagogy impossible. Knowledge cannot grow in a situation where nothing is fixed and everything is open to question.)
Lost in exegesis 
One of the possible reasons for these paradigm shifts may be attributed to a shallow understanding of Church teaching, where not all sources in the University may be teaching uniform interpretations of doctrine. 
Hence, uniformity in Catholic education becomes questionable in a liberal academic setting, where Theologians may be responsible for instilling beliefs, which in the end contribute to detachment from the Church. 
For instance, some classes are told that virgin birth, referring to the virgin birth of Christ through Mary, may actually have been a common phenomenon during Jesus’ milieu, and that the Resurrection, similar to the Creation, may have been symbolic and fictitious. Such beliefs often are not in line with traditional Catholic theology. (It needs to be asked why a university that proclaims itself to be Catholic is allowing liberal Protestant / secularist "theology" to be taught in its name.)
To contribute to the unity of effort in Catholic education, Simeon shares that the LSPO is working towards making Lasallian Formation mandatory for DLSU faculty. (What the anti-Catholic section of the faculty needs is good old-fashioned catechesis. Even prior to that, what they need is a good dose of honesty. There is nothing honest in earning money from a Catholic educational institution by teaching things that are diametrically opposed to Catholicism.) 
But even if Catholic Lasallians, exposed to numerous influences besides different philosophies, media and peers, turn to say, agnosticism or atheism, Simeon affirms that the grounding in faith should be the testament of a true Lasallian formation more than apparent religiosity. (This artificial dichotomy between external religiosity and internal faith is nauseating. Faith is for the whole person, and exists not only in the mind and heart but is expressed through words and deeds, which by definition are external in nature. Furthermore, if a Lasallian -- or anyone else, for that matter -- turns to unbelief, then how can it be said that he has "grounding in faith"?)
*Student’s names were changed upon their discretion.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The greatest of Filipino Catholic processions

UPDATE: A lot of wonderful pictures of this year's procession on Yahoo and Daylife.


Every January 9 sees the largest and greatest of Filipino Catholic processions: the day-long sojourn of the venerated statue of the Black NazareneNuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno (Our Father Jesus the Nazarene) through the streets of the Quiapo district in central Manila. The statue is enshrined in the Minor Basilica of St. John the Baptist ("Quiapo Basilica"), one of the four basilicas located within a very few kilometers of each other in the heart of Manila. (The three other basilicas are Binondo Church, the San Sebastian Church - National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Manila Cathedral.)

Millions join the January 9 procession (the Traslación) -- a large number of them barefoot -- as the statue is brought from Quirino Grandstand facing Manila Bay (whence, for the past several years, it has been brought for a preliminary vigil beginning about 1 P.M. on the day before the procession to give devotees more time to take part in the "Pahalik sa Poong Nazareno" [the kissing of the statue of the Nazarene] as well as more ample space for this devotional practice) and back to Quiapo Church. This year, 8 million people are expected to take part in the traslación. The Traslación commemorates the transfer of the Black Nazarene image from the now-destroyed San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Intramuros, Manila to Quiapo Church in 1787.

The lyrics of "Lumang Krus", the song accompanying the video:

Lumang Krus

Sa malayong pook, malapit sa bundok
Nariyan ang isang lumang krus
Na pinagpakuan ng Poong Maykapal
Sa sala ng tao’y tumubos.
Kung kaya’t aming iniaalay
Ang lahat sa lumang krus na iyan
Handog ko’y dalangin at dasal
Nang hirap Niya’y maparam.
Krus na iyan ay tigib
Ng dugo at luha
Kay Hesus na Mahal ng madla
Nagtiis ng hirap
Namatay Siya sa krus
Sa sala ng tao’y tumubos

(Repeat Koro)

"Lumang Krus" is actually the Tagalog adaptation of the Baptist hymn "Old Rugged Cross". Despite its Protestant origins this Tagalog adaptation has long been used in Filipino Catholic devotional exercises (although its popularity has declined in recent years).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Philippines: set to have no cardinal-elector for the first time since 1960.

The first Filipino Cardinal, Abp. Rufino Cardinal Santos of Manila, (1908 - 1973) shortly after his elevation to the cardinalate on March 28, 1960. From a private archive.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI announced the names of 22 clergymen whom he will raise to the cardinalate on February 18, 2012. Eighteen of them are below the age of 80, qualifying to become "cardinal electors". (Under the rules set in place in 1970 by Paul VI and slightly revised by Bl. John Paul II in 1996, cardinals who have finished their 80th birthday on the day before a Pope's death can no longer take part in the conclave that will elect his successor. Those cardinals who have not yet finished their 80th birthday are, therefore, commonly called "cardinal electors".) Unless one or more of the cardinal-electors and new cardinal-electors-elect were to pass away before February 18, there will be 125 cardinal electors by the end of that day. Should no cardinal elector not scheduled to turn 80 years old until 2013 die this year, there will be 114 cardinal electors by Dec. 31, 2012. (Eleven cardinals are going to turn 80 between February 18 and the last day of this year, including the sole remaining Filipino cardinal elector, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Emeritus of Manila.) Another 10 cardinals are going to turn 80 in 2013, making another consistory in that year all but certain. 

Some Filipinos had speculated that either Abp. Jose Palma of Cebu or Abp. Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila would be made a cardinal this year. However, of the 22 new cardinals to be elevated on February 18 only two are from Asia, namely, Major-Archbishop George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly (head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India), and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong. Perhaps there will be a Filipino cardinal in the next consistory, but it is highly unlikely that one will be called before 2013. 

So, where will all of this leave the Philippines in "red hat" terms? Come August 11, 2012 (the day after Cardinal Rosales' 80th birthday), the Philippines will find itself in the unenviable position of being one of only two among the 20 countries of the world with the largest Catholic populations, and far and away the largest Catholic country, to have no cardinal elector.* The other country is Uganda, with a Catholic population that is less than a sixth of that of the Philippines and which currently has one cardinal (Emmanuel Card. Wamala, who is 85 years old). On September of this year, the Philippines and Uganda will be joined by Colombia from among the 20 countries when its sole remaining cardinal elector, Pedro Cardinal Rubiano Saenz, Archbishop Emeritus of Bogota, turns 80.

* The 20 countries of the world with the largest Catholic populations, in order of size of Catholic population, are: Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, U.S.A, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Germany, Venezuela, Nigeria, India, Canada, Ecuador, Uganda, Chile. (Source)