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.


  1. I pray for the Philippians every day. I have a feeling of connectedness with the faithful Catholics there. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is very beautiful. At least it looks like a church and not a "gathering space" as it might be called in certain churches over here in the USA. May God protect the One, True, Catholic Faith everywhere, but the Philippian Islands are under Communists now, (please let me know if this is incorrect)so please Lord, watch over them and help them.

    1. Not yet Nancy. We have a (seeming) leftist leaning Jesuit (!) educated young President Benigno "NoyNoy" Aquino III. Many of his close-in advisors are of the leftist bent. The Philippine Church is still strong but is attacked from all sides specially from within. Please continue to pray for us. The De La Salle Blessed Sacrament Chapel is indeed beautiful and am a Grade/High School, College & Grad student there. I've had the privilege of being one of the (Lighting) Consultants in it's last renovation sometime 2001 (thank you Bro. Benedict, may the Lord rest your soul). Live Jesus in our Hearts, FOREVER.

  2. That is a gorgeous looking chapel.... Is that chapel available for private events? Like weddings and christening?