Must be United, Not Separated
ATTY. MIGUEL L. ABAS
Catholic Faith Defenders, Inc.
The 1986 Philippine Constitution provides: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable” (Section 6, Article 2 of its Declaration of Principles and State Policies). Many people don’t understand and are confused with the expression, “separation of Church and State.” This may be attributed to the fact that there is an ambiguity of the term used for it may be a separation of concepts but a union of realities. In order to avoid aggravating the confusion, there is a need to define the terms involved. We should be able to distinguish in order to unite and to analyze in order to synthesize.
What do we understand by the term “Church” and by the term “State?” By Church we mean “the society of all those who, being baptized, profess the faith in Christ, and governed by their lawful pastors under one visible head” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1). The State on the other hand, is “a community of persons more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, independent of external control, and possessing an organized government to which great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience” (The Revised 1973 Philippine Constitution, a Reviewer-Primer by Joaquin C. Bernas, S.J., p. 9). Under these cited definitions we can extract two realities which both cases have signified: a) A collectivity or society of the same individuals, usually called “faithful” in relation to the Church and “citizens” in relation to the State; and b) Its public official, usually called “clergy” in relation to the Church and “government” in relation to the State. As the members of the Church are members of the State too, the Church and the State have the same subjects.
Man Has a Two-fold End
Man, as a rational being, has two essential components, his physical body and his spiritual and immortal soul. As such, he has a two-fold end: natural and supernatural. It must be admitted that the State is a natural and perfect society. While it is supreme in purely secular and temporal affairs, is ever subject to the rule of right MORALITY and the requirements of the NATURAL LAW. The State must give its own proper worship to Almighty God. The State, along this line, recognizes this necessity as we find in the opening statement of the Preamble of our Constitution that it seeks the “aid of Almighty God” to attain its dreams and aspirations. Furthermore, the State acknowledges the need for the Church’s assistance as it pursue its mission in protecting and shaping the destiny of its inhabitants particularly in the molding of the youth when it “recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation building and shall promote and protect their physical, MORAL, SPIRITUAL well-being (Article II, Section 13, 1986 Philippine Constitution).
The purpose of the civil society is to help man in the attainment of his natural end; but the State cannot direct man to his supernatural end. For this purpose, God through Christ, has established His Church here on earth. It is the Church, as a divinely instituted society which can direct the State in these matters. The main function of the Church is to lead men to the final end of their existence, which consists in enjoying God for all eternity in heaven. It is the Church that teaches man of his obligation toward God, towards himself and towards the society which he belonged. The Church, therefore, must assist the State in promoting the spirit of JUSTICE and CHARITY among people and civil rulers, guiding the latter in their great duty of working always for peace and prosperity of their subjects. In its turn, the State has to protect and assist the Church in fulfilling her duties among men. This reciprocal duty is duly respected and properly complied with by the State towards the Church when it expressly provides in its Constitution that no law shall be passed prohibiting the free exercise of religion and that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship… shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights” (Article III, Section 5, 1986 Constitution). The Church and State are not regarded as rival powers. Church and State can never conflict because of the following principles: a) The State exists to serve man’s temporal needs; the Church exists to serve man’s spiritual and eternal interests and b) Temporal affairs, not having direct connection with spiritual things are the concern of the State alone; spiritual and moral affairs, even involving things temporal, are the concern of the Church.
Guided by these principles, one can still remember of those recent and momentous events that had happened in the history of our country wherein the Church played her very vital role in restoring peace and spirit of justice and charity to all. Above all, she had consciously led the faithful on reviving into its splendid state the fast decaying morality among Filipinos and other nationalities and in rebuilding their dying faith in God which was brought about by the evils in the society. Those acts of the Church are not to be construed as meddling in the affairs of the State, instead, assisting the State and its subjects in their time of need which was a simple compliance of the Church mission for which she was purposely established by God. These are necessary entities for the common end of man.
Church and State, therefore, should not be separated in reality, but united in a common effort of collaboration for the wholesome development of man.