“The Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system. In fact, the political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each in their own fields, and both are, even if under different titles, devoted to the service of the personal and social good of the same human beings.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Lib. Vat. Ed., 2004 no. 50)
If the State separated itself from the Church, so it is too that the Church separates herself from the State. If the State distances itself from the adoption of an official religion, so it is too that the Church forbids clerics from accepting any public office with the exercise of civil power. All these however notwithstanding, both the Church and the State are meant for the service of the same human beings. While thus separated and independent from one another, the Church and the State however cannot but interact precisely for having the same basic concern, viz., service to the people for their personal and social welfare, viz., human beings gifted with precious human life to care for, endowed with ingrained human dignity to respect, having basic human rights to respect.
Thus it is that it is not uncommon the world over where there is separation of Church and State that they are either at peace or at odds with one another, depending always on how human beings are treated, how they are served or exploited, how they are respected or abused. It can be said that there are usually and primarily three subject matters when the Church must speak and the State either gets angry and contradicts, despises, and dismisses what the Church said or taught, how the latter moved or acted – all of which means Church and State friction:
One: Abuse of Human Beings. When the State looks at human beings as but numbers to count, mouths to feed, individuals to exploit and the like, the Church speaks and acts in their defense and affirmation, reason: For the Church, human beings are the darlings of creation.
Two: Violation of the commandments. When the State through its political leaders think, believe, and behave as if they were exempted from obeying the Commandments – such as in the matter of stealing, killing, and other immoral acts – the Church speaks and acts. Reason: Politicians are not exempted from obeying the Commandments.
Three: Destruction of Nature. When the State not only allows but even promotes the destruction of nature such as through irresponsible mining and other wastage of natural resources, the Church speaks and acts. Reason: Nature is the gift of God to one human generation after another.
If the State listens, this would be for its own good and welfare of the people. Otherwise, who knows what happens next?