TO LIGHT A FIRE!
Very few will quite understand Joaquin G. Bernas SJ in his PDI Sounding Board column pieces of 10 September and 17 September 2012 entitled “Conversing with a bishop” and “Dialogue with the bishops” unless his previous ones on the Reproductive Health Bill are taken in perspective together with prior MAJOR developments in their “Society”.
For a good number of years now JGB has been already showing his implacably contrary position against the moral doctrine of the Catholic Church on the use of contraceptives as an intrinsic evil. Thus he has been constantly SNIPING in pejorative terms and tones against us who reject HB 4244, as ‘hardliners”, “loyal Catholic catechists”, and who ought per JGB, to be reminded about religious freedom and pluralism, and the supposed moral supremacy of conscience. Accordingly he has repeatedly implied that such principles have been erroneously explained in the old Baltimore Catechism. And yet the late famous Jesuit priest theologian John Courtney Murray, the acknowledged prime advocate for Religious Freedom during Vatican II, had this to say about contraceptives, which he explained through public MEDIA even during the days when the same Catechism was still being taught in most Jesuit schools.
“First, (in accordance with religious freedom) a man may not be coercively constrained (forced) to act against his conscience as a general principle according to Vatican II in Dignitatis Humanae. Second, a man may not be coercively restrained (prevented) from acting according to his conscience, unless the action involves a civil offence against the civil rights of others.” Therefore I challenge JGB to prove that there is anything in the Baltimore Catechism that is explicitly contrary to what Father Murray PUBLICLY declared on the same issues of contraception, vis-à-vis conscience.
“x x x Catholics themselves must be made to understand that, although contraception is not an issue of public morality to be dealt with by civil law, it remains for them a moral issue in their families’ lives to be decided according to the teaching of the Church. (Just) because contraception is made legal, it is NOT (consequently) made moral, anymore than it should be made illegal simply because it is immoral.”
And yet JGB and I were both instructed in the Catholic Faith at the Ateneo de Naga High School in the late 40s and early 50s, when the Baltimore Catechism was the standard textbook for Freshmen. Though he was two years ahead of me in school, we had the same Jesuit teachers in our religion classes such as Rev. Fathers James B. Reuter, Lorenzo Ma. Guerrero, Agustin Bello et cetera, who after their Final Jesuit Vows made a public declaration of their Loyalty to The Pope at our school chapel by means of an equally solemn and formal vow pledging their lifetime loyalty to the person and teachings of the Pope. All senior Jesuits had been making this 4th Vow from the time of its founder St. Ignatius de Loyola more than 400 years ago. That public 4th Vow has been practically DISCARDED starting from the late 60s and completely so these days. Incidentally, our constantly and publicly proclaimed school motto was then Primum Regnum Dei. So now in contrast, JGB obviously supports a contrary PRIORITY in academic objectives by his having directly quoted the former and deposed Jesuit Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach who had imposed the following exclusivistic policy for all Jesuit schools and universities: “The University has its purposes which can not be subordinated to other objectives” (vide, JGB-PDI column of 2 September 2012).
A few years after Kolvenbach became Superior General, I was waiting for a top corporate taipan for our conference with him together with a prominent and widely revered (in the Philippines) American Jesuit. While waiting, he recounted to me in a hushed voice right there in the plush conference room of the honcho’s Makati, Ayala Avenue corporate headquarters, that he and eleven other top ranking Jesuits in the Philippines were convened many years before then, to decide whether or not to express public support for Pope Paul VI and his encyclical (circa 1996) Humanae Vitae. Papa Bear, as the good Jesuit Father usually called himself when confidentially writing to me, whispered: “the vote was 11 to 1 against poor Pope Paul VI!” Affiant further sayeth naught, except to exhort all truly loyal Catholics to pray for JGB and others like him. We should have done so since 1966…
In further perspective, the highest Jesuit authority is its Legislative Congress which convenes from time to time such as the 32nd General Congress of 1975. Article 66 under Decree No. 4 of that Congress reads as follows: (emphasis and explanatory comments supplied)
66. “Solidarity with the Society is primary. It ought to take precedence over loyalties to any other sort (sic!) of institutions, Jesuit or non-Jesuit. It ought to stamp any other commitment which is hereby transformed into “mission”. The mission as such is bestowed by the Society and is subject to her review. She (hence, as an autonomous Society free to do whatever its superiors think fit & proper!), can conform or modify it as the greater service of God may require.” (Again, according ONLY to what and how this greater service is defined SOLELY by themselves!)
In stark contrast the Apostolic Letters of Pope Paul III (circa 1540) and Pope Julius III (circa 1550) which canonically authorized the Society, officially declared that it was so authorized “chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith, and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine….”
Thus in the year 1553 St. Ignatius of Loyola their Founder and first life-time Superior General, severely admonished and reminded the Jesuits of Portugal (who just like those in the Philippines today were at public odds with their Bishops), that Jesuits must be “second-to-none” in their obedience to the local Church Magisterium and the Pope! Significantly, when Jesuit Superior Generals were STILL of the same revered mold and mind as St. Ignatius up to the late 1950s, the Society was at a peak strength of more than 70,000 loyal and cohesive all-male members. Since then they have dwindled to some 18,000 more or less, but mostly old or retireable survivors known to and twitted by many, including JGB himself, as “Tre Jesuiti, quattro opinioni”. But according to my Jesuit Papa Bear, only around 30% of them are no longer avowed and actual loyalists of the Catholic Church Magisterium and the Pope.
And so, contrary to JGB’s published opinions, here is what Pope John Paul II AUTHORITATIVELY and succinctly had to say on conscience vis-à-vis religious freedom and pluralism in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor Sections 29 to 34 thereof: (with emphasis and notes added)
Nevertheless, (the Church) has the duty to state that some trends in theological thinking and certain philosophical affirmations are incompatible with revealed truth.
In contemporary moral thinking, all discussions are closely related to one crucial issue: “human freedom”… but it is expressed sometimes in ways that diverge from the truth about the human person as a creature in the image of God, ways that need to be corrected and purified in the light of faith.
Certain currents in modern thought (have) made of freedom something absolute, which then becomes the source of values. In this way the sense of the transcendent is lost, or one is explicitly atheistic. In this case it is (supposedly) the individual conscience that decides categorically and infallibly what is good and what is evil. To the affirmation that one has to follow one’s conscience is added the (FALSE) affirmation that a moral judgment is true (merely) because it has its origin in conscience. The inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of self-alleged sincerity, authenticity, and of “being at peace with oneself.” Once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, the notion of conscience inevitably also changes. One’s conscience is then no longer an act of a person’s intelligence applying the universal knowledge of good to a particular situation in a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now. Instead there is the tendency to grant to the conscience of the individual the prerogative to determine on its own and independently, what is good and evil and to act accordingly. In the latter way each individual is faced with his or her own truth* different from the truth of others*. In the final instance it can lead to a denial of the very idea of human nature. (*NOTE: Hence typically resulting in “Tre Jesuiti, Quattro opinioni”)
The questions about freedom and morality cannot be separated. Though each individual has the right to be respected in his or her own journey, there remains a prior moral obligation to seek the truth. As Cardinal J.H. Newman put it: “Conscience has rights because it has duties.”
Yet no amount of human reasoning will ever convince our rebellious modernist/Jesuits such as JGB and his 192 or so Ateneo Catholic professors/disciples, HUMBLY to re-embrace their previous loyalty to and total FAITH in the Catholic Church as the Mystical Body of Christ Himself, and the Pope as Christ’s Vicar on earth. Indeed FAITH is a gratuitous divine gift whose sine qua non pre-condition is HUMILITY, as taught to us and so expressed in the same Baltimore Catechism. That doctrine on faith has NOT been removed nor altered in the present official Catechism of the Catholic Church as was prepared and approved by the Bishops of the whole Church and Pope John Paul II in 1992, or some 30 years after Vatican II.
And that is why our Bishops in the Philippines most of whom are explicitly loyal to the Papacy, continue to oppose HB 4244, precisely because of those 192 Ateneo Catholic professors’ PUBLIC DISSENT, and regardless of the constant criticism against particular bishops coming from JGB, a Jesuit Catholic priest. Strange, but indeed as prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, it is now a pandemic reality during these end times…..
Eduardo B. Olaguer
Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines
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