More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason. … Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. Woe to women lacking in modesty.
— Our Lady of Fatima, relayed by visionary Blessed Jacintha Marto
The Jesuit-founded and -run Ateneo de Manila has a special regard for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s seen not only in yearly Marian processions, but also in the school colors, highlighted in the graduation hymn: “Mary, for you, for your white and blue; We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, constantly true; We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, faithful to you.”
For all that, however, the Dec. 3 alumni homecoming program included a highlight that seemed to show disregard for our Blessed Mother’s womanhood and virginity. Not to mention the above-quoted warning she gave during her apparition at Fatima, Portugal, nearly a century ago.
As told by incensed Ateneo alumnae and pilloried in social media, the evening entertainment featured a pornographic starlet who shall not be named, so as not to entice anyone to google her images and videos.
She did not perform anything lewd, but was interviewed in sexually suggestive terms. In one bit that got laughs, avid alumnus Sen. Richard Gordon was invited on stage and presented to the starlet as “your Dick,” his nickname.
This writer supports his College 1977 lady batchmates in protesting the offensive feature, which is also an affront to the university’s women, including Ateneo Alumni Association president Melissa Reyes. She reportedly disapproved the porn star guesting, but its proponents still went ahead with it.
Beyond a school controversy, the event highlights the state of Filipino Catholic morals, which seem to have deviated much from traditional teaching.
Plainly, if jubilarian alumni of a leading Catholic institution with strong Marian traditions, coming home 25 years since graduation, see nothing amiss in featuring at their main function a performer of lurid films, with indecent onstage talk thrown into the mix, there may be something seriously wrong in the formation of Catholic morals.
The sex numbers game
Experts in Philippine survey data don’t need the Ateneo alumni homecoming porn star controversy to know that many or most Filipinos don’t follow Catholic sexual morals. The 2013 Young Adult Fertility Study counted one in every three Filipinos aged 15-24 years had had premarital sex.
The 32 percent finding was up from 23 percent a decade before. While young men saw a mild increase to 36 percent, from 31 percent, premarital sex among young women nearly doubled from 16 percent to 29 percent.
The Catholic Church may have gone along with this trend. While mass homilies have decried corruption, violence, exploitation, and discord, they have rarely admonished congregations on sexual morals.
A good number of churches have posters on proper attire, and some have ushers offering shawls and wraps to women or girls wearing inappropriate attire. But revealing dress still abounds in church as well as campuses of Catholic schools with no uniform.
And there is increasing reluctance to speak about “sins of the flesh,” despite the explicit admonition of the Blessed Virgin through the innocent Jacintha Marto, just 7 at the time and knowing nil about the indiscretions on which she has imparted our Lady’s warning.
Indeed, as of yesterday, fully one week after the Ateneo alumni homecoming and despite the flurry of comments and debate on social media, the university had yet to speak officially on the porn star’s feature.
This contrasts with the instant statement made by university president Fr. Ramon Villarin when the Ateneo Scholarship Foundation invited former First Lady Imelda Marcos as guest of honor on its 40th anniversary celebation on July 5, 2014, in recognition of her contribution to the ASF when it began in 1974.
The very next day, in response to negative reactions on social media, Fr. Villarin declared: “I apologize for any doubts that may have arisen on the mission of the school and the pain this event may have caused. As I hope for your understanding, I would like to assure you that we in the administration have learned our lesson to be more mindful of those we invite to our celebrations.”
While it was not the Ateneo, but its alumni who invited the porn star to the homecoming, the event was still an official annual activity sanctioned and hosted by the university. Hence, the school can express a view on whether such entertainment is in line with the values and tenets espoused by its Catholic Jesuit education, just as Fr. Villarin rightly apologized for the Imelda Marcos incident, which went against the Ateneo’s mission.
If nothing is said or done about the unfortunate homecoming program highlight, then that says volumes about why Ateneans with many years of religious education think nothing of entertaining the crowd with a personality whose profession goes against the purity exemplified and espoused by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
And if that’s the case, then one can see why sins of the flesh send more souls to hell than any other transgression.