Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Philippine Bishop Leandro Medroso, in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas Monday, called for an investigation of the Ateneo faculty members who signed a statement declaring support for the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill being pushed by the Aquino administration in Congress.
Medroso, the permanent council member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Canon Law, said the university should make sure that the teachers who endorsed House Bill No. 4244 were not teaching concepts against Church laws.
"That has to be investigated. The first principle of Canon law about this matter is that we don't allow teaching that which is against the official teachings of the Church. Now, if there is somebody who is giving instructions against the teachings of the Church, then they have to investigate immediately," Medroso said.
Those found guilty of teaching students concepts contrary to Church teachings could be fired, he said. Church officials have previously raised the possibility of excommunication for Catholics espousing population control.
Ateneo officials were not available for comment Monday, a holiday.
Recently, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, the current CBCP president, warned Catholic schools and teachers to toe the line or end up in hot water.
"They should be consistent and true to the nature of their calling, which is to enlighten and teach the Catholic doctrine. They should realize how important their vocation and their mission is, which is of course to impart the Catholic teaching," Palma said.
The CBCP acknowledges that there are some differences in the beliefs of teachers and Church teachings on topics like reproductive health. The group said that while it respected academic freedom in colleges and universities, Catholic institutions should adhere to Church laws.
In issuing the statement of support, Ateneo's faculty members said the RH bill would provide much-needed maternal and infant health care to all Filipinos regardless of religious beliefs.
"The reality is, despite the Philippines being predominantly Catholic, the majority of Filipinos want the full range of family planning services, including 'artificial' contraception," they said.
"Our reflected and collective appraisal of the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill is that it is a vital piece of legislation that needs to be passed urgently," the paper said.
The Guidon, Ateneo's student newspaper, said it was not the first time that its professors had released a statement endorsing the bill, which has been pending for more than a decade. The first statement was issued in 2008, with 66 signatories.
The Guidon said another statement followed in 2011, signed by more than 200 faculty members from Ateneo and the University of the Philippines. With a report from Dona Z. Pazzibugan