Thursday, August 24, 2006

categorical prohibition

Church law categorically forbids clerics from assuming any public office whenever this means having a share in the exercise of civil power (Canon 285 Par. 3 CIC).

This is universal church law. This prohibition applies to all deacons, priests and bishops of the Catholic Church in the four corners of the globe. It is an expressed and formal mandate in the negative that is applicable to all clerics, irrespective of their race and color—as the deacons, priests and bishops in the Philippines. The law is quite strict and rigid such that any cleric who entertains a definite and defined contrary option, should terminally leave the clerical state.

The so called “Melo Commission” is definitely neither a purely private nor a civil body. As designed and constituted by no less than the highest executive office holder in the land, it is incongruous to even think that it has nothing to do with the exercise of civil power in its executive expression. In other words, all clerics in the country are forbidden by church law from membership in the said commission as such.

Hopefully, this canonical prohibition would assuage the apparent paranoidal preoccupation of the present administration that clerics in the country like to take over its tenure of power, intent to assume its public office and pursuant prerogatives. Would that the said church law put to rest the seemingly progressive self-agitation of MalacaƱang that the local Pilipino church hierarchy is interested in changing its occupant due to its design and desire to have a presence therein.

Thus it is not only the fundamental law of the land that indirectly provides the separation of the church and state. That the universal law of the church also affirms its separation from the state is inherently for church ministry—definitely not for government service.

It is strange that the present administration fervently invokes the principle of the separation of church and state whenever clerics denounce the unethical contents of its political options and actions. Yet the same is rather fast in enlisting no less than bishops for membership in the said commission that is envisioned precisely to investigate and resolve political killings in the country. What a self-contradiction!

+O. V. CRUZ, D.D.
24 August 2006