Space to Discuss Contentious Issues

There are many “contentious issues” in our society. Urgently, we have to learn how to be able to talk about contentious issues without condemning one another to hell.

One such contentious issue is the recently passed Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RA 10354). There were those who were for it. They judged it would protect the reproductive health especially of women in our society in distress. There were others who opposed it. They said it embodied a “contraceptive mentality” that would inevitably lead to abortion and murder. Clashing in sundry fora, in the media, and in the halls of Congress, they contended to convince the other of the veracity of their claims. One side used the freedom of the streets to advance their position; the other side used the sanctity of the pulpit to disseminate the truth of theirs. One of the sides virtually claimed the fullness of objectivity and truth; the other side claimed the fullness of compassion and experience. As it turned out, Congress passed the reproductive health bill. But not without its opponents, many of whom official leaders of the Church, practically excommunicating the bill’s supporters and warning them of the fires of hell.

Recently there was a forum in my university that included a group of Catholics who had been supportive of RA 10354; the forum discussed this bill and its implication for Philippine society today. Among its participants were teachers of the Faculty of Theology of the University. In the wake of that event, its organizer was chided by “Defenders of the Faith” for holding the forum in a Catholic University with such people who “gravely err” against the teaching of the Church. The “Defenders of the Faith” have their right to express their convictions. But would they similarly proscribe university discussions with politicians whose neglect and greed caused the death of thousands of people during Typhoon Pablo? or interaction with the washed, well made-up and the established whose wealth comes from the denudation of the forests of Mindanao? or socializing with clergymen who have sullied the name of the Church in their sexual misbehavior and in their corrupt ways?

We live in a plural society. The days are gone where “the defenders” of one Catholic faith proclaimed the divine right of kings, and the chilling right of kings to host vicious Inquisitions against those who “gravely err” against the sacred teaching of the Church, to burn heretics at the stake, and to convince themselves in torturing “the truth” out of others or in “forcing” allegiance to the faith they do the will of God. The days are gone also when a King Philip II of Aragon and an Queen Isabela of Castile could expel the whole Muslim population from Spain simply because they refused to be “freely” converted to the one, holy, apostolic Catholic faith. We have gone beyond those days, I pray. We have come to understand that even though God speaks to us in truth, we understand his Word but partially – as my Muslim friends would say, without the full luminescence of God’s truth – so that every human being has the right to worship and seek for deeper truth in freedom. Difference in society should therefore no longer be cause for scandal, but an opportunity for achieving deeper social unity.

There is room even for “the defenders of the faith” to listen. And to be humble. That is what His Eminence Chito Cardinal Tagle so refreshingly suggested upon becoming a Prince of the Church. Unless these recover the ability to listen, they forfeit the right to be listened to. For it is not their rings, robes and tassles that make them credible, nor even their ability to quote deftly from encyclicals or threaten with the fires of hell, but their ability to convince people that they understand people. And that they care. I fear, this is a message that “the defenders” have not been able to communicate. Listening to them then, many complain, has been like hell.

The truth should lead to unity. Part of the reason why those who espouse it cause deeper disunity is because it is proposed in arrogance, rather than in humility. The “defenders of the faith” have the whole truth, and those who disagree with this belong necessarily to the murky darkness beyond truth. This is why it is so easy for such people to defend their truth with the sword, to force people away from the abyss, to defend them against the shameless demons whose godless ideas would deliver them to darkness. Trouble is this arrogance calls forth a counter position with similarly absolute claims. And if for you it is not enough that you accept truth on the threat of damnation, then accept truth in the righteousness of my sacred sword, or in the holiness of my war, or in the holocaust that I will offer God in your flesh and in your blood.

So, pray tell, is there any space in our society where in differing with one another in truth, we do not need to end up condemning one another to hell, or in waging holy war against each other? Is there any space where we can allow reason to help us find faith, or faith to help us find reason – even in discussing such as mining and environment, corruption and politics, gay and lesbian culture, gay marriage and civil divorce? Is there any space where discussion and deliberation can be rigorous, but where the outcome is not spilled blood, nor abused honor, but deeper insight into reasons for difference, deeper human understanding, and deeper love? Unless we find this space, we will end up a nation of mutually-excommunicated devotees in hatred, wallowing in self-righteousness, not profound but silly.

Perhaps the “defenders of the faith” might consider the academic freedom of the Catholic University such space. It is space guaranteed by the Church, which the bishops are called upon to defend in faith. No Catholic university needs to apologize for discussing contentious issues with controversial people. This, because of a deep conviction “from the heart of the Church” that there is no contradiction in principle between human reason and faith. In time, truth outs. Not by force of coercion. But by the argument of love.


About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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54 Responses to Space to Discuss Contentious Issues

  1. i agree. the academe is precisely where these difficult conversations need to happen. for one, the intellectual environment ensures (or at least encourages) a more structured and productive dialogue. i am tired of the back-and-forth bickering and mud-slinging on social media and news sites whenever the RH bill is discussed, for instance (and yet, i read them because once in a while an enlightened comment shows up, and sometimes the discourse gets interesting). more importantly, holding these forums in the university also helps to inspire students (and the academic community) to think critically- a very valuable life skill.

    excellent post, fr joel. as usual. the third paragraph is at once damning (dare i say, shocking) and thought-provoking.

  2. godfrey says:

    So Fr Tabora I fail to see the connection between a group that calls your attention to coddling a group disowned by the Church hierarchy for teaching and supporting erroneous Catholic positions and your highly inaccurate rant about forced conversions and stake burning. I would have appreciated a more objective and historically accurate representation of the historical church of which you are a priest of. It has nothing to do with the lack of plurality or not being open. A Catholic institution of learning must never be open to groups that wish to undermine church teaching and have already been declared by the CBCP as such, that is not academic freedom, it is terrorism especially when the orthodox position is not represented properly.

  3. godfrey says:

    I find it strange that a formal respectful inquiry in the form of an emailed letter, through the proper channels, was made and the reply comes in the form of a blog manifesto. Fr Tabora, I was hoping that at least, in the spirit of the humility, honesty, openness and plurality that you espouse, that our letter would be respectfully and properly addressed rather than being dismissed with a wave of a hand and what sounds to me like an anti- Catholic preacher writing. I suppose with this, I leave you to run YOUR UNIVERSITY the way you see fit. Thank you and God bless. AMDG+

    • The letter was sent to a university official, who has undertaken to respond to it officially. I use this blog to share my thoughts on sundry issues with anyone who may consider it worthwhile to read them.

      • dboncan says:

        You know very well father what I meant by your “response” …burning at the stake, inquisitorial… hardly a respectable reply. That was very presumptive of you sir!

  4. Don’t you see any conflict with Ex corde ecclesiae, Fr. Tabora?

  5. Joseph says:

    Dear Father

    I know I promised our dear Lord that I will not anymore criticize a priest in response to the call of our dear Mother and the mystics and maybe you would remember also my father Saint Francis told us about seeing a poor (sinful) priest and St Lawrence, that he would rather kiss the hands of the priest than go to the saint, for in your hands (the priests) lies the eucharist which everyday you celebrate by the office you represent, By this I might say I would look always at my shoulders and think twice if I would do so uncharitably.

    I would start this comment with a reminder from one of our fathers which says

    We must put aside all judgment of our own, and keep the mind ever ready and prompt to obey in all things the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, our holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.
    –Saint Ignatius of Loyola

    Father sometime ago Pope Paul VI produced a document called Humanae Vitae I heard father that the Jesuits already has some misgivings on this document but I would not dwell on how the Jesuits had voted on this for as far as I know it is dismal and really too shameful for us to remember. I would not even dwell on the the question of, if this is a dogma or a doctrine but let us say for the sake of discussion that this is just a “mere” letter a, guide and a way for worthy living not to be imposed to the faithful 🙂

    Sadly this mere letter had transcended to something prophetic in fact all of its prophecies came true and they are.

    1. Contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity.

    2. Contraceptive practice would lead to a “general lowering of morality.”

    3. Contraception would lead men to cease respecting woman in their totality and would cause them to treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment” rather than as cherished partners.

    4. And finally, widespread acceptance of contraception by couples would lead to a massive imposition of contraception by unscrupulous governments.

    Hmmmmm a mere letter cannot produce this same result, well it is just a mere letter 🙂 🙂 🙂

    So my question is

    But father you might be talking of free choice, of freedom of conscience, of womens rights etc etc etc

    But as a priest father can your conscience take….

    1. The further objectification of women?
    2. Rampant Divorce?
    3. The acceptance of contraception by the society (BTW father this is I think that your conscience accepts) which is leading men not only for the further objectification of their wives but also a source of infidelity to some?

    Can your conscience take that father? Specially if those who happen to do the acts came from this RH Law? Since I now do believe that you are now supporting this law, maybe it is high time that in your theology I should inject the sin of omission. Many will do that father in fact the only question is how is your conscience nowadays father? Will your conscience able to handle what sins that this law will create and its adverse effects as seen already in the Humanae Vitae? Can you handle it and say to your father St. Ignatius and to our Lord.

    “Well im not the one who have done it?” Why punish me I just supported a law because my conscience tells me so”.

    Ok my last point is about academic freedom?

    Father we all know that you cannot shout at a jam-packed theater FIRE! Freedom is NOT absolute in fact you know this. A Catholic school (if you still call your schools CATHOLIC Schools) must espouse the highest ideals of what a Catholic school should be. Now in this present situation that your in which your faculty members, students, the hall sweepers the canteen salesladies and errand boys of your school who do not obey to the church “mere letter” the question is….. can your conscience handle the deterioration of morality in your school and furthermore of sending (maybe not all) but many to their destruction not only in this world but on the next.

    To tell you father I am beginning to like this quote in fact I would emphasize the first sentence which says

    We MUST PUT ASIDE JUDGMENT OF OUR OWN, and keep the mind ever ready and prompt to OBEY IN ALL THINGS the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, our holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.
    –Saint Ignatius of Loyola

    Can your conscience handle that?


    • Joseph says:

      One more thing father let me add how about abortions? As you see studies shows that countries and individuals who practices contraception are more likely to abort their children or in cases of countries, rising abortion rates. What if father just what if only one of those who uses contraceptive which in accordance of the bill and failed and still got herself pregnant and aborted the child? (I know father that the bill does not have an abortion provision.)

      Will your conscience take that too?

      Or will you say to Jesus and to St Ignatius and the other two founders of you order….

      “The bill has no provision that says abortion so you should not look at me if there is an individual who aborted her child in a failure of contraception” Blame the condom and the pill”

      The fall Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake….. actually Eve swallowed the snake 🙂

      • RA 10354 is very clear in it’s being against abortion. I am as well. Unfortunately, even before RA 10354, there is an unconscionable number of abortions committed in the Philippines. My hope is that the new law prevent, rather than encourage, abortions.

    • I would certainly recommend that all Catholics read, understand, and live the doctrine contained in Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. As a papal encyclical it expresses a doctrine of the Church on the transmission of human life; with its proscription of artificial contraception, it is a doctrine therefore which cannot be simply dismissed.

      But I would certainly wish to remain in dialogue with those Catholics, especially those who are married in the Church, who have difficulty in putting Humanae Vitae into practice. Bringing them together with Catholics who like yourselves presumably do, could be of crucial value in the manner in which they finally live their lives.

      I would also like to remain in dialogue with Christians who are not Catholics who have values and convictions other than ours in this discussion.

      As a priest, I am not for the further objectification of women, rampant divorce (we don’t have that yet in the Philippines!), and rampant marital infidelity. But these are ills that occur not exclusively due to contraception. Women are traded for money, and marriages often break up because of squabbles over property. Some husbands batter and rape their wives without any thought of contraception, some parents “transmit life” without regard for the quality of life their children will suffer.

      The burden on you is to establish that this law will cause sin. In my reading of it, there is a great sensitivity in it for the religious beliefs and convictions of our citizens. Nothing in this law would prevent a citizen from living Humanae Vitae if he or she so chooses. Nothing in this law will prevent Catholics from preserving the unity between conjugal love and the openness to new life.

      For those who have difficulty with this, I do not see how political opposition to RA 10354 will help them.

      My conscience can handle the fact that many people do not believe as I believe, and live with values that are different from mine. In conscience, understanding the nature of a Catholic University which we try to be, I would not be able to coerce people to embrace doctrine they neither understand nor accept. Here, I believe, I would be “setting aside my own judgement” in order to allow reason to discover Truth and Truth to be understood in reason.

      • dboncan says:

        “Nothing in this law will prevent Catholics from preserving the unity between conjugal love and the openness to new life” Really? So contracepting and creating a contraceptive culture is not leading people to sin and does not make it easier for couples to decide that the marital act can be reduced for mere pleasure? Hmmm… Let me ask you this question: Have you in your capacity as AdDU president and as a faculty member, hold and teach without reservation that to regulate birth artificially under the conditions stipulated by Humane Vitae is sinful or at least an intrinsic evil as Pope Paul VI calls it? Have you, as a priest, formed people’s consciences to a point that they can decide truthfully based on their individual consciences?

      • tonycsantos says:

        Hurrah Fr. joel…

      • josephperez says:

        I am sorry father for replying sooooo late in fact I failed to bookmark it. I dont even know if you replied or not 🙂 But just a long note father. Let me ask

        //The burden on you is to establish that this law will cause sin. In my reading of it, there is a great sensitivity in it for the religious beliefs and convictions of our citizens. Nothing in this law would prevent a citizen from living Humanae Vitae if he or she so chooses. Nothing in this law will prevent Catholics from preserving the unity between conjugal love and the openness to new life.//

        So let it be a burden on me as you say and I answer it this way

        Sometime ago contraception has been used as a universal panacea against abortion (as you see father here this is the ONE of the underlying thought and marketing strategy that they are using gas-gas na ito eh) But is that the truth? Tell me father what country on God’s green earth who succumb to contraception do not have any rise also of abortion in them? Even in America father even the mouthpiece of Planned Parenthood the Guttmacher in conclusion said that the MORE the person uses contraception she is more likely to have an abortion. The reasoning is simple father the more people uses birth control/contraceptive methods the more likely the person is insulating her conscience to the evils of abortion.

        Now since I have already lighten my burden father. I think I will make yours the heavier and that is.

        If those who use contraception and failed and used the abortion as the option (now to make it heavier still on your conscience, just only ONE of the so many who will use the birth control/contraception)

        Will your conscience handle that father?

        //My conscience can handle the fact that many people do not believe as I believe, and live with values that are different from mine. In conscience, understanding the nature of a Catholic University which we try to be, I would not be able to coerce people to embrace doctrine they neither understand nor accept. Here, I believe, I would be “setting aside my own judgement” in order to allow reason to discover Truth and Truth to be understood in reason.//

        Will that give you a licence father on harboring a thought to defend their conscience father even though?

        We knew from our theology that our consciences should be INFORMED and Informed on what on the truth (or GROUNDED ON THE TRUTH). The problem is you might have one of the truths and the other has theirs but you see father there is no such things as TWO truths, that cannot be, in fact this violates the logic of NON-Contradiction.

        So how can we find the “truth” father (I know father that you know this) Firstly on the bible and Christ and the magisterium of the church and lastly ( after the preliminaries )if it is illumined by the grace of prayer.

        You have to really ask yourself father

        Are these people are illumined by prayer so as for them to know the truth?
        Are these people followed and sought the magisteriums pronouncements?
        Are these people followed Christ and His written word to know the truth?

        Truth and reason cannot discover themselves or redirect itself like magic. Human beings discover all sorts of “truths” even the devils themselves has their own truths but this should be adhered by all (Christians) that is the divinely inspired truths Humanae Vitae has that as you yourself has said above

        //As a papal encyclical it expresses a doctrine of the Church on the transmission of human life; with its proscription of artificial contraception, it is a doctrine therefore which cannot be simply dismissed.//

        Now how about the “coercion” issue that you said in your school? I will answer one of your newer blogs this way

        The reason and the reason why Catholics are thrown into confusion nowadays and why they dont see the divine (as you narrated in another blog about that woman). This is the reason father

        Truth is not anymore said by ZEAL and APOSTOLIC CONVICTION

        and I think father you can examine yourself again that by giving yourself that licence in defending the “other truth” you are neglecting many of the charisms of priests that your founders died for.

        Father your founders died for the truth, saints are martyred for the truth, saints were in love for the truth? Isnt it time that you obey God rather than men who do even have any inkling of the truths. Can you please stop appealing to ones emotions by using the word “coercion” for in the end the one that is really coerced here are the TRUTHS.

        With respects and devotion to you and to the office that you hold


  6. dboncan says:

    “C4RH: Taking a page (and money) from the abortion lobby”
    Fr. Tabora perhaps to you and YOUR UNIVERSITY, a group that receives money from pro-abortion lobbyists is acceptable, even in the name of “academic freedom.” I hope you post this for the sake of all the Catholic faithful who think that C4RH is merely a group of concerned Catholics.

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  8. denz says:

    Totally agree! I admire Fr. Tabora for espousing such courageous belief amid Church pressure. How I wish the Dominicans from Espana had the same enlightened spirit. This is what separates the progressive Jesuits and Christian Brothers from the ultra-conservative and sometimes hypocritical clergymen from the Royal and Pontifical University. Difference in opinion should never be a ground for repression.

    • Thank you, Denz, for your vote of confidence. But I really don’t think the divide is between the Jesuits and La Salle Brothers on the one side, and the Dominicans on the other. I see the divide more between those who are open enough to listen to views that are different from theirs, and those who are simply unable to do this. There are “progressives” who are closed and “conservatives” who are open.and there are both among peoples of different faiths. There are priests who are sinners, and layperson who are saints, even though neither has been given the privilege of infallibility. We must learn to listen to one another, and not to reduce the world of multiple concerns to single-issue controversies, no matter how “true” they are. You are right: difference of opinion should be an occasion for intellectual solidarity – where we regard the difference as an opportunity to come to more profound unity.

  9. Tim says:

    Ex Corde Ecclesia. That remains unanswered here. But then I notice Father Tabora, the only person you responded to is the one who agreed with you. So what are you doing to further dialogue then? Is the Jesuit university prepared to host a public forum discussing such issues with the Catholic Faith Defenders?

    • I am still away from the country, but am certainly open to a dialogue at the Ateneo de Davao University with the Defenders of the Faith, or anyone, on issues raised in this blog or elsewhere, on the presumption that it is the same Faith we defend. I think this is precisely what a Catholic University is about as provided for by the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

      • belial says:

        Any insider knows that ADMU suppressed true internal dialogue on the issue, while loudly proclaiming to the outside world to promote dialogue. You, Tabora, think in stereotypes while loudly proclaiming that we must not think in stereotypes. Where ADMU goes, so does ADDU…

  10. Jan Brian Ano-os says:

    Thanks for the courage, Fr. Tabora. Two thousand years of Church history should be enough to remind us that intolerance is a far greater danger than doctrinal dissent. Finding God in all things, after all, requires the Church (including her too-fervent defenders) to be humble and charitable enough to examine even the voices of those who disagree with her with due respect and open-mindedness. It would be beneficial for those who assail you using Ex Corde Ecclesiae to acquaint themselves with the principles that guided Nostra Aetate.

    • Thank you, Jan, for reminding me of Nostra Aetate. We are in an age of great inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue. Humbled by our own inadequacy in fully welcoming God’s truth as revealed to us by our religion and received by our culture, we are more open to dialogue with other groups which seek and find truth as is given them – we believe – by the Spirit. At the same time, what many religions find themselves needing today even within our own Philippines, is genuine intra-faith dialogue. Belonging to the same Communio, it is sad how much we do not understand one another.

      • Understanding one another will lead to social unity.

      • dboncan says:

        The great experiment of nearly 50 years of false ecumenism and dissent in he church has brought about the abortion of 70 million babies worldwide, mass attendance of only 10-20% (depending on what country you are in), couples who contracept with abandon, astronomical loss of priestly vocations (Fr. Tabora may want to enlighten us how the Jesuit vocations are doing worldwide, right father?) and of course, the number of priests who are involved in homosexual pedophilia and the like… this is the great experiment that led to the relativism so rampant in the Church today. It’s amusing how some Catholics can talk and make it seem like things are getting better in the Church, is it Fr. Tabora… getting better I mean?

  11. In what I understand, social unity can be equated to primary goods (by American philosopher John Rawls). He expressed that this primary goods are the common base for the unanimous selection of the justice principle.

  12. According to Rawls: In the state of nature, it might be argued that certain persons (the strong and talented) would be able to coerce others (the weak and disabled) by virtue of the fact that the stronger and more talented would fare better in the state of nature. Ref.

    • Rawls, I believe, is rightly concerned about the problem of coercion in society. When claims to truth cannot be supported sufficiently by reason, coercion “from authority” or “from the barrel of a gun” is a temptation too frequently resorted to. Talk about “the common good” – especially that type which excludes the uncommon good of the adversary – has therefore often led to war. This is why David Hollenbach, in his book, *The Common Good and Christian Ethics*, explains the result is often a contemporary penchant for not advancing the common good at all, and being content with a social situation where all agree to tolerate each other’s private convictions. Thus, if you have convictions about the common good (including religion as part of it), keep them to yourself, and we will remain in peace. But if we are to address the problems of human poverty and environment, it does seem necessary to go beyond this in dialogue – where we cultivate space for discussing contentious issues – without coercion and condemnation.

  13. Isahel says:

    Intolerance in deed is a danger but too much intolerance will lead to religious indifference. In light of the teaching of the Church in Dignitatis Humanae we are to respect the religious beliefs of others because the right to exercise one’s belief is an unalienable right of a person. However, this does not mean that we have to be silent on the errors that they are spreading. As Catholics we have the moral obligation to reject, expose and refute errors in any way we can. We cannot afford to be silent on matters (RH Law etc.) that are detrimental to our Catholic faith,

    as what Pope St. Felix III once said

    “Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them.”

    Since Catholic Universities are in the field of education they are the ones who should spearhead in responding to the errors of our time, they are the ones who should defend the Catholic faith by explicitly denouncing errors. The Jesuits are the once who spearheaded the Counter-Reformation through St. Ignatius of Loyola and a brilliant Jesuit apologist St. Robert Bellarmine, they are instrumental in defending the Catholic faith and denouncing the errors of Protestantism. But where are the St. Ignatius and St. Bellarmine now in the rank of the Jesuits? Will there be a counter-reformation from the Jesuits now against Relativism, Liberalism, Modernism, Secularism, Atheism, Protestantism and Humanism? I have high hopes that one day we will see our dear Jesuits responding to errors of our time.

    • How I wish we Jesuits had the brilliance, wisdom and grace of the Jesuit saints who have preceded us! Short of this, we work according to our best lights and as grace prompts us. Even as we can be grateful that there was a Conter-Reformation, so too can we be pleased that our Church today has a deeper appreciation of the Scriptures, the centrality of Jesus Christ in our faith, and the evil of simony. In Catholic Universities, clearly and happily, we Jesuits are not alone in trying to fulfill the mandate given to us by Ex Corde Ecclesiae – also in the light of Dignitatis Humanae. We are complemented by many other scholars and teachers, lay, ordained and religious, who collaborated in our higher education mission. To your list of -isms, perhaps we can also add fideism, triumphalism, pharisaism, fundamentalism, as well as our actual failures in listening to our God of love in prayer as we try to listen deeper to the people He loves.

    • Jan Brian Ano-os says:

      And yet history teaches us that even St. Ignatius faced the Inquisition and Cardinal Giovanni Carafa’s (who later became Paul IV) animosity while St. Roberto Bellarmino was once eyed upon with suspicion for his ambiguous personal approach to heliocentrism. The latter’s beatification was even opposed by Cardinals Barbarigo, Casante, Azzolino and Passionei. Even one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Henri de Lubac, was silenced during the 1950’s. The reverence with which we hold the memories of these men is a strong testament of the tried and tested fact that the Church’s understanding of truth in itself is still a work in progress. John XXIII fondly compared the Church to a “pilgrim who journeys through time in search of the truth”. With that in mind, would it hurt to be humble enough to listen to others? Would it be too much to ask ourselves to be charitable enough to recognize the good intentions of those whose ideas differ from ours? Recognizing the evolving nature of our understanding of what is good and true doesn’t suggest that the Gospel has changed; it simply means that, in the words of John XXIII, we have begun to understand it better. We are Catholics; we defend the faith with humility, charity and good example, not with the harsh words with which many of our zealous but misguided brethren threaten others with the fires of hell.

    • True tolerance in no way implies indifference. – Father Thomas Williams

    • It can be argued that tolerance may mean several things. People can view religious beliefs other than their own in three ways: Exclusivism, Inclusivism and Pluralism. Pluralists may hold very strong personal convictions even while being “tolerant” of conflicting belief systems.

  14. Isahel says:

    Correction: Too much tolerance NOT to much intolerance.

  15. Pax_Christi says:

    Let us put to an end to the spirit of Inquisition that the medieval Church has brought us. Enough of the harsh words that threaten the Church outlaws of hell, what Christ has spoken of were words of the BOLD truth. We, as Christians, do not need to bombard each other with canonical flaws as the endpoint of all these discussions of delicate issues is that we stand on the very dictate of our Lord Jesus Christ through the a conscience that is substantiated by the Holy Scriptures, GOD’s Holy Words, amidst criticisms of those who fail to see the Light of God’s Will. Our task as Christians is not to impose a decree of damnation to those who are not on our side but to continually open our ears, with utmost hope for their conversion to what is righteous, and listen to the sentiments of their side in order that we may understand the sufferings to which we Christians must respond upon in the light of our duty to proclaim the justice that Christ has brought as our Redeemer. BUT, it does not entail that we do these works of justice in unChristian means. BUT, this does not also entail that we close our ears to them like were hearing diabolical chants as our refusal to open a dialogue is also our refusal to the chance that we, as Christians, could proclaim our Faith by using God’s very words to pierce that flawed walls of their reasoning. My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not replicate the failures before of the Body of Christ to open its ear because our tendency of closing the doors to the appeals of the people have sometimes led to wrong ends even to the point of slaying our own Saints such as Joan of Arc, who suffered of unjust trial. ALTHOUGH, we have the responsibility of giving fraternal discipline to our own dissenting siblings in the Faith, our ears should never be closed. We may shove of the dust in our robes to express our disgust, but our ears should never be closed. We may stand firm on our position grounding our conviction to our Faith, but our ears should never be closed. NEVER! As God has been patient to us, so should we as we are also sinners although some of us may wash our hands to the issue we are referring to in this blog, but still, we have sinned. We may condemn, YES, we should condemn sins but we have no right, even a Christian right or Divine right, to deprive those who are ignorant of God’s Word of gradual enlightenment. In this juncture it is worthy to remind you that as Christians we should not hate the DOERS of sin but, rather, the sin itself. We open dialogues because it is the only way that we see the goodness between the two sides. It never aims to pull the Christian side to what is unChristian or Machiavellan. It never aims to usurp the good side by the bad side, as we know that, quoting the pharisee Gamaliel, if our work is of man’s it will surely fail but if it is of God’s, no body can stop it! If we are truly are a servo de Dios, servants of God, then we ought to have the confidence to stand before any issue that come before us, defending our Faith by letting those who are on our opposite side to consumed by the power of God by letting God speak to us through our Holy Spirit. The message of Christianity and the endpoint of all papal bulls is not to condemn the sinner, but to save them through the spear that kills the serpent within us. In this light, we should not destroy the bridges that holds us common to our fellow human beings. Roman Catholics should never despise their Orthodox brethren as they were the ones who extended the Christian message under the see of St. Andrew to the people of the east especially the Slavs and to African nations under the see of St. Mark. Catholics should never look down on Protestants because it is through them that the Catholic Church was enlightened to respond to the need of the laity to personally encounter God through His very Words by comprehending the contents of the Scriptures which was impossible by then to those who do not know Latin or Greek, and it is through them they the eyes of the hierarchy were opened especially to the abuses during the papacy of Papa Alexander Sixtus. Christians should never close the doors of interfaith dialogue with other religions, especially to those which sprang from Abraham as they continually remind us of our duty to supply to them the fullness of God’s revelation, that the lines of communication to God is not now disrupted by our Sin as their is a High Priest that represents us before our Heavenly Father. Christians should never pretend blind to the criticisms of the agnostics and atheists, and refuse dialogue with them, as it is through them that we realize that we should never be blinded by mere tradition, enshrouding the real essence of our Faith, and that we should never be too proud to assume that we are the source of all truth, especially scientific truths. And to all those who adhere to negative -isms, we should not simply ignore them and wish them God’s wrath for they remind us of our mission to burn them, NOT OUT OF THE FIRES OF INQUISITION, but of the fires of the HOLY SPIRIT that would inspire them to shape their life out of the perfection of Christ. Yes, Christ has said that we can never serve two masters at the same time and Saint Paul reminded us that we must not be bound together with unbelievers, but dialogues are not an abandonment of our Master who is God, it is obedience to His will to bring enlightenment to everyone, and it is not a mixing up our Faith under the influence of those who do not believe, for what division will there be between us and them if we pull them on our side. As I’ve said, dialogues are paths that we can use to fulfill our Christian duty to preach as co-prophets of Christ. Their refusal to heed is not our problem, let God place the verdict upon their souls. Hearing them is not believing them, let that be very clear. But hearing them is an act of mercy as it shows that there is someone interested to correct whatever unrighteousness their ideas contain in the context of God’s Word. Hearing them is never an act of tolerance, it is a gradual way of inculcating in them the truth of God by our kind but bold response of the truth. We cannot simply say, because you believe in that, I declare you anathema! What a display of arrogance and irresponsibility! Let us not nail them with declarations of ecumenical councils that they are not even familiar of. Let us approach them of how Christ approached us, through simplicity that holds infinite wisdom. Let Christ speak through our mouths. Let the Holy Spirit guide us as He guided St. Stephen even at the danger of death. Let us open the space to contentious issues, and let GOD prevail in it! To you Fr. Joel, my Christian brother, may God bless you more and more as you lead a University that will set the hearts of men in holy fire. Equip the Knights of Davao with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and let Ignatian value of Magis be truly present to every soldier under the Fort of our Ateneo. God will bless you!

    • Thank you for your insightful comments, Pax_Christi. May we all promote through dialogue the Peace of Christ!

      • Pax_Christi says:

        We are happy of your great leadership as the president of the Ateneo of Davao and as a servant of God as a priest. We pray that you continually be engulfed in the fire of the Holy Spirit, empowered to continually uphold the apostolic mission of bringing the message of Christ through the method of love… let not legalistic and pharisaic detractors derail you from fulfilling the mission of Christ in this great city and in the island of Mindanao that is the last frontier that holds true Filipino identity, barely influenced by the marks of our conquerors… as the Ateneo expands, so is the expanse of the duty to become an arbiter between diverse sects, religions, culture, philosophy, backgrounds and other fields of human diversity all in the name of peace that serves as a stepping stone to the emergence of authentic love… the morals of our Faith are irreversible and non-negotiable, but this should not hinder us from creating bridges to the common things we have for the common good that we ought to live… let Ateneo be the Nicaea where we could share the commonality of our Faith, let it be the Assisi where religions gather to discuss enlightenment as humans, let it be the Versailles where people could sign treatise in the name of peace, let it be the Cannes and Louvre where people could gather to marvel the arts and preserve the treasures of God’s gift of Mindanao, let it be the Yankee stadium to promote athleticism that aims for unity, let it be what its motto implies, the Fort of Faith. Thank you father for your continuous dedication. AMDG!

  16. dboncan says:

    Wow AdDU never ceases to amaze me… YOUR UNIVERSITY, Fr. Tabora is even now getting itself involved in “Training on Gender and Rights-based Alternative Legal and Paralegal Services”… are you setting up your law school to start defending the legal recognition of homosexual/gay unions? Is that part of the “dialogue” and conscience formation that the Jesuits are now doing?

  17. CMBerba says:

    Cheers to you Fr Tabora for being brave in saying what you mean and approaching the issue with logic, rationale and objectiveness. I love the catholic faith, I believe there is no more sensible, beautiful and humane way of approaching life and living. And regarding your post: I agree with you completely.

    A question does come to mind: Dialogue and space have limits. Though we exist within a plurality, there are elements within society that cannot be plural: in our case, the law. Though differences and dialogue may even be celebrated within particular spaces (such as universities that allow people to think for themselves), these spaces have boundaries. I believe that in this case eventually, dialogue must reach a resolution.

    In our case, the resolution was lucky: a legislation that was mostly sensitive and tolerant — as you pointed out in your other post ( However, there are those who are still disconcerted. There can ONLY BE ONE TRUTH, it would seem to them. They (such as some of those who are commenting on your blog entry) will accept nothing less than the complete rejection of everything RH. And honestly, I cannot blame them, because a plurality of truths, is hardly comforting in the postmodern condition.

    How do you propose we approach this uncertainty given that though we are many, we must ultimately adhere to ONE government, ONE law, and ultimately (the bigger question) ONE faith?

    • These are big questions, Miguel. I know I do not have all the answers. Foundational for me is the relationship that I enjoy with God. This relationship is gift. It is grace. It is not earned. It is freely given, and freely received with deep gratitude and humility. This is faith.
      Faith introduces me to Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. It also introduces me to myself as a rational being, Loved by the Father, created in his image, blessed in His Spirit, who needs to search for truth.
      In this relationship, on the one hand, I know I know Jesus, the Truth, but in living in this world, on the other hand, I know there is much I do not know, much therefore I must learn using the understanding and rationality God has blessed me with. In learning about God, about nature, about humanity and human beings living with each other, in searching for theoretical truth and practical truth, that is, the ought, I search ultimately for God. Faith seeks understanding, understanding seeks faith.
      This search for truth is in a plural world. In humility I know, even in knowing Jesus, I personally do not know all truth. Others, from their own differing faiths and cultures, also do not know all truth. Ultimately, there is only one Truth, but today we only grasp truth partially, “as through a dark glass” (1 Cor. 13:12). Before, people believing they had the whole truth, forced truth on people. We don’t do that anymore. At least, we try not to. That is why our society is plural. That people see one truth but partially, does not mean that Truth is not One. It only means that different people see truth partially at various levels.
      We have discussion on varying topics in our plural society, and we come to various agreement ideally through rational dialogue, not through coercion and war. All ends ultimately in our common Good, God, in a City of God (Augustine), whose ultimate realization is beyond this life. This side of eternity, all our expressions of “the common good” are partial, including all laws, which are our but way of formulating and implementing binding agreements on “the common good” as determined by morality. While laws are more stable than informal agreements and passing opinions, no law is immune to ongoing evaluation and revision by members of society. No law guarantees “the common good” permanently and infallibly. No law therefore provides absolute certitude that we have achieved the good life. That is why laws are sometimes amended, sometimes repealed, based on new insights into the demand of “the common good.”
      From the heart of the Church who is Jesus, the Truth, this is my faith.
      I hope this helps.

  18. The truth should lead to unity.

    A good read. I cant write a lengthy response fads, but i could really say, you are among those defenders of truth.

    like Mao Zedong, when they forged the united front and established the PRoC. He united those who value truth and justice. aNd win the majority and still tried to listen to those who argue.


  19. Reblogged this on Kingkoykingkoy's Blog and commented:
    We live in a plural society. The days are gone where “the defenders” of one Catholic faith proclaimed the divine right of kings, and the chilling right of kings to host vicious Inquisitions against those who “gravely err” against the sacred teaching of the Church, to burn heretics at the stake, and to convince themselves in torturing “the truth” out of others or in “forcing” allegiance to the faith they do the will of God.

  20. Pingback: Wolves in the Sheep’s Pen: C4RH at Ateneo de Davao | TheStrugglingDad

  21. Pingback: In Case You Forgot Fr. Tabora, There are Souls that are at Stake | TheStrugglingDad

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