THE separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. It is very clear in our Constitution. The principle simply means that the Church is not to interfere in purely political matters or temporal aspects of man’s life and the state. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In the Philippines, this is better said than done. There is always a controversy (disagreement) in identifying the dividing line between the respective domains or the jurisdiction of the Church and the State. The Spanish colonizers obliged us to become Christians. The soldiers provided the sword, gun, and cannon. The friars showed us the cross and made us understand that we have a soul and that soul has the option to go to heaven or hell.

The Spanish rulers did not separate the Church from the State. The Church arrogated unto itself powers that belonged to the State. The Church tolerated the extreme abuses of the men of the king of Spain believing that our ancestors were “indios.” That was part of the culture imposed upon us. The “no separation” concept has something to do with the sharing of income. The Church used the pulpit to convince the “indios” that their contribution to the Church would bring them nearer to “Jesus, Maria y Jose” (the Holy Family).

The State through the feudal lords and tax collectors would impose unjust taxation. That converted the “indios” to become insurgents. Those who could not pay taxes would taste the Spanish “latigo.” The young wives or the beautiful daughters of the “indios” would be sent to the house of the “alferez” for advanced sex education.

There came a time that the Church should be separated from the State because of the growing power of religious authorities that were already encroaching into the political or secular realm. It is acknowledged in our Constitution that there shall be a wall of separation between the Church and the State. That is the reason why the State has no official religion. Other religions are not very critical of the affairs of the State, but not the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The Catholic Church is articulate on man and his dignity and that covers secular activities involving politics, violation of human rights, graft and corruption, environmental degradation, election irregularities, artificial birth control, among others. The priests and the bishops are frank in opposing what contradicts the law of God and the common good. What is inconsistent with Christian values and principles is wrong.

Father Juan and Bishop Pedro, as Filipinos, would always speak what is bad in politics based on a spiritual and moral point of view including the bad words uttered by the president. Why is the Church in politics? Politics has a moral dimension. Good politics is beneficial. Bad politics is hurting, even kills.

The Church believes that Christ wants the Christians to be involved in politics. Our politics needs reforms. We need honest men to evangelize the political world. Integral salvation through the church focuses on the salvation of the whole person having a body and soul with spiritual and temporal needs.

A human Filipino (including drug addicts) is having personal and social sins. His social sins involved his being a political animal (politicians and policemen are not exempted). The bishops and the priests believe that the poor and the powerless have been tangled in the web of Philippine politics and to free them, our politics needs cleansing.

The statement of the CBCP is very touching, “To be political is not a right but a duty laid on the Christian by the Gospel itself.” Concerned Christians who are politically aware should take up issues on poverty, corruption, immorality, violation of human rights, electoral fraud, and the suppression of truth. This is our religious involvement in the affairs of the State. After all, we are the Church.

Filipinos in the Church should not just remain neutral in facing everyday social conflicts. As needed, we have to take sides in a conflict. Our spirituality is needed here. It is our potent force that should be followed for the good of the society where we belong. This is the cultural tie that binds the Church and the State.