Monday, July 03, 2006

separation of church and state

Even if the separation of church and state is not written in the fundamental law of the land, its reality should be observed and its spirit should be kept. And even if the charter only prohibits the adoption of a state religion, this should be understood in its fuller understanding, viz., the church should not directly intervene in the affairs proper of the state just as the state should not directly interfere in the agenda germane to the church.

Filipinos who become priests and bishops are churchmen but they are certainly not lesser Filipinos. That is why their rights and obligations are the same as those appertaining to other ordinary Filipinos according to the Philippine Constitution they too are subject to the civil and criminal laws of the Philippines. They are furthermore bound by the ordinances of the place where they are. Also bound to observe traffic laws under the usual penalties if they violate any of them.

They have the right to vote for the government officials they want to exercise governance over them. And theirs too is the right to speak and act in the event that they are convinced that a certain government official is either not duly elected or does not meet the ethical standards to govern. Only foreigners, churchmen or nor, are not allowed to get directly involved in the internal affairs of the country.

Churchmen are not allowed by church law to run for elective public offices. Otherwise this would be a direct intervention in politics, they are neither allowed by church law to become government functionaries. Otherwise, this is allowing the government to exercise direct intervention in ecclesiastical matters.

Just for the record, it would be proper to make the following distinctions. While the present government represents the state, it is definitely not the state itself that is why while government came but some years ago and will surely be gone in due time, the state of the Philippines stays. The same is true for the incumbent CBCP that represents the church in the Philippines. Its members too come and go, but the church remains.