Church and State partnership

November 09, 2018

AS in the past, the church contributes to the political order her vision “of the dignity of the person revealed in all its fullness in the mystery of the Incarnate Word” (Centesimus Annus, # 47). This vision includes the truth: that the human person has been created unto the image of God and has an eternal destiny of unending happiness with God; that, having fallen into sin, the human person has been redeemed by God and absolutely needs God’s grace for salvation; that Jesus Christ is God-made-man who shows by his human life how the human person must live and serve; that the equal dignity of all human beings brings them into solidarity in mutual love, justice, and service.

The church and State both work for the common good and for the good of every person. They have to respect each other’s legitimate independence or autonomy and each other’s way of achieving the common good and the total development of every human person. Precisely because of this unity of mission, church and State have to collaborate with each other.

The church has the duty of proclaiming the Gospel “to all creation” (Mk. 16:15) and “to restore all things under Christ” (Eph. 1:10). This means that the Gospel must “influence every phase of life, every stratum of society” (CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics, p. 26), including the political sphere. In fact it is the duty of every Christian – to transform politics by the Gospel. The relationship of the church to the State has been described by the Philippine bishops as one of “critical collaboration” or “critical solidarity”.

Critical collaboration or critical solidarity means that the church is one with the State in promoting the common good. Cooperation, solidarity -- positive support -- has to be given by the church to whatever the State may be doing for the common good in accordance with the Gospel. But the church must have a critical sense in providing such collaboration. It should denounce whatever is not in accord with the Gospel.

Wealth and power are the two major factors in our society that has a great impact in our daily lives. We are living in a world where these two factors remain unbalanced. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our God of justice who wants us to make a huge difference in the world by means of standing up for those who suffer, and sharing our hands to help them stand up for themselves.

The Lord has told us to do “what is good and what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.” (Micah 6:8)  Recognizing the growing rate of poverty in our country, Radio Veritas as a means of extending its effort to partner with our government in helping the poor took the opportunity to invite Vice President Leni Robredo in an on-air to discussion of her various advocacies and programs for the poor in its public affairs program “Veritasan” from 11 a.m. to 12 noon last October 27, 2018.

This move was also in accordance to what Davao Archbishop Romullo Valles, D.D. said that “the church has always been and will always be a partner of government (especially in the LGUs and barangays) in countless endeavors for the common good, especially in addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged sectors of society.”

Through this program, we will be able to give hope for our brothers and sisters who are suffering and in need of grace from God. It is also part of our mission in building a community of faith and charity for those who are looking for a brighter future.

As Vice President Leni Robredo succinctly puts it, “the role of the church is really important and vital to the Government because if they unite as one, everything will be on the right track. The government should find a way to partner with the church because our mission to make the Filipino people as better citizens will be achieved with the help of the church. That is why we should not look at the church as an enemy, but rather as partner to join.”  

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ let us all “learn to do right. See that justice is done -- help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.” (Isaiah 1:17) so that the Almighty Father will bless us for “whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

Finally, because St. John Paul II said that the concrete human being living in history is “the way for the Church” (cf. Religious Life and Human Promotion, # 14; Centesimus Annus, # 53-54). The temporal and spiritual development of the total human person is the way by which the Church accomplishes the mission to proclaim the Gospel. We know very well that politics can dehumanize the human person and entrap the person in sinful behavior or structures.

In short, politics cannot claim to be above or outside the natural law and the moral law. Politics has moral and religious dimensions. Therefore, the Church has to be involved in partnership with the political world.

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