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Interviewing the ‘grim reapers’

By Jonathan AdamsCorrespondent / March 10, 2009



Reporters on the Job: My article mentions two professors at metro Manila’s prestigious Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. They were part of a group of Roman Catholic professors who bucked the church leadership by signing an open letter in favor of the “RH [Reproductive Health] Bill.”

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When I interviewed them at the school’s Quezon City campus (read the Monitor's report here), I was struck by how deeply personal the issue was for the two women – and how sharp the divide between the church’s progressives (like them) and conservatives. Professor Mary Racelis, said flatly, “I’ve already walked out of church three times,” during sermons on the issue.

The university distanced itself from the letter’s signers in a public statement, though did not punish any of them. But the criticism was harsher from one student newspaper. There, the two noted with some bemusement, they and the other letter signers were called “dishonest,” “mediocre,” “anti-poor,” “doomsday pundits,” “horsemen of the apocalypse,” and yes, “grim reapers.”

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