Monday, June 06, 2016

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE



The commonly invoked “Separation of Church and State” specially so when certain politicians pitifully think politics is not covered by ethical principles, believe that politics is beyond the reach of moral norms.  Conclusion:  What they think, say and do are always right.  Woe to those who dare tell them what is good or evil, what is devious or virtuous.  It is wherefore quite interesting to take note of the Church and State relations in the Philippines – particularly on how politicians react against certain Churchmen when these speak about the well-known shenanigans of many political figures in government.  The usual drama goes this way:  certain Bishops and Priests preach and react when these or those politicians fondly abuse their power, happily reward their friends and/or greedily accumulate dynastic wealth.  The politicians who feel alluded to, invoke the mantra of “Separation of Church and State” which in substance means:  Churchmen shut up!

It might be good to state for the record, that not only the State but also the Church have their respective provisions on their rightful and proper normative separation.  For the State, it says that there would be no official State Religion.  For the Church, it provides that no Cleric may accept, much less seek any public office in government with the exercise of civil power.

So it is that by force of but the 10 Commandments – among which are “Do not kill.”  “Do not commit adultery.”  “Do not steal.”  - not to mention the pursuant  Social Doctrine of the Church – Churchmen have both the right and all the obligation to speak and to act when the government  as a whole or when certain government officials indulge in greed through graft and corrupt practices – considering that even the highest government official as well as the Supreme Head of the Universal Church are definitely not exempted from the iniquity of stealing, killing, and many other criminal offenses as provided by just and proper legislations.  So it is that even the Church has her own Penal Law among its canonical legislations applicable to erring Churchmen in the natural and/or the spiritual order.

No wonder then that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)  formally issued no less than three major full-length official Pastoral Exhortations.  More concretely, there was the “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics” (1997).  This was followed by the “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Economy” and topped by the “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Culture”.  All these official CBCP documents have their doctrinal basis on the Sacred Scriptures  as well as the pursuant Social Doctrine of the Church as applied to the concrete political, economic and cultural realities long since obtaining in this Country, past and present.

There is nothing like being acquainted with her Social Doctrine to know that the Church is not only preoccupied  with the truths about heaven but also concerned with the realities here on earth.  The Cross of Christ is well-represented when the Church speaks the truths about God and man (perpendicular dimension) and the truths about man and man (horizontal  dimension).