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THE Department of Education recently re-worded its Vision Statement. In the past, the department tasked with the formation of our children once envisioned “functionally literate and God-fearing Filipinos”. Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom.
A vision statement is not an empty platitude. It guides the articulation of policy. It orientates plans of action. While maka-Diyos remains one of the Department’s core-values, we maintain that the formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered.
“This Sacred Synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.” This is what Vatican II teaches in “Gravissimum Educationis”.
The right of a child to recognize God, to love him and to hope in him cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not. Our pluralistic society indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to. This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence. Furthermore, the attitude of our laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as ‘benevolent neutrality’: the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy.
We exhort our Catholic laity in public elementary and high schools to be zealous in the apostolate of forming pupils and students. Do not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full!
This, our dear public school teachers, is your particular mission in the life of the Church, the dignity of your calling as evangelizers within the world and its concerns. It is a challenge of particular urgency in this, the Year of the Laity. Stand up for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
August 29, 2014, Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist
+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan