Cebu Archbishop and CBCP President Jose Palma enters the Santisimo Rosario Parish to celebrate this year's Misa de Apertura. Photo by John Paul R. Autor

03 June 2013, 8:45 p.m. – ACADEMIC freedom is of great value to Catholic universities and should be used to reaffirm the Christian faith rather than contradict it, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said this morning at the start of the new academic year.

In his homily for the Misa de Apertura or the traditional Opening Mass at the Santisimo Rosario Parish Church, Palma, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, reminded Thomasians that Catholic education is “still grounded to the mission of the Church.”

Thomasians should thus feel privileged to be able to share in this evangelizing mission, said Palma, a UST alumnus. “I pray with you that you recognize the blessing of being scholars, of having the pleasure, the privilege, the gift, the opportunity of studying here at UST,” he said.

Palma, now the highest ranking Thomasian cleric, finished his licentiate in Sacred Theology in the Pontifical University in 1976.

Citing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Cebu archbishop urged faculty members to “reaffirm the great value of academic freedom,” but said it should not be used to undermine the University’s Catholic identity.

“In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you,” Palma said. He added: “Yet it is also the case [when] any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.”

Palma declared Academic Year 2013-2014 officially open, calling on Thomasians to view every day as a “deeper conversion, communion with, and commitment to God.”

Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. and Vice Chancellor Rev. Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. concelebrated the Mass, which was followed by the Discurso de Apertura or the Opening Lecture delivered by Prof. Allan de Guzman of the College of Education.

In his lecture titled “Parable of Talents: The University of Santo Tomas at the Crossroad of History and Creativity,” de Guzman said the co-existence of creativity and history in the University is the key to globally recognized competency.

“It is safe to claim that history and creativity can comfortably co-exist in our midst as a university. As history reforms our actions and decisions, our passion for creativity shall reform and transform all our educational efforts,” said de Guzman, recipient of the 2011 Metrobank Outstanding Teacher Award for the Tertiary Level.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, the Dominican friars, deans, administrators, faculty members, support staff, alumni, and students attended this year’s opening ceremonies. John Joseph G. Basijan and Celton F. Ramirez


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