Much has been said on the role of the Church in society, on the role of the Church in public life, on the role of the Church in politics. Some have stated that the Church must strictly look at and interfere in religious issues; while others have said that it is the Church’s role to participate in all aspects of society. We are witnessing just another episode of the separation of Church and State debate which has been going on for some hundreds of years now. How can we know which argument is right?
I tend to start my arguments from one position, one ground which both parties have in common. I think both the Church and the State aim towards the well-being of individuals, and in turn of society at large. It is important to keep this in mind, as it gives us a focus on the essential elements and goals of each part. It is true that the Church is usually associated with the spiritual and religious aspects of human beings and the State with policies, legislations and society, but we cannot in reality just divide the human being into pieces; it just does not make sense. One cannot divide between the personal, social or spiritual well-being of a person, as one aspect is reflected in the other. My personal development affects my social relations, and my spiritual aspect reflects my personal growth. We must speak of an integral person; if we don’t then that would mean that we have not yet understood what the human being is, and that is sadly quite a regression.
The Church is interested in the development of human beings as the children of God, as those created in the image of God; a development aimed at reaching the full potential as human beings. Therefore it is the duty of the Church to instruct how man should live their lives in the best way to reach this potential, and to reach this potential a human being must have the necessary environment to grow personally, socially and spirituality. That is why the Church teaches against oppression, in favour of freedom and the right to life, against poverty and war, and so on. Yes these issues do enter the field of the State, and with these issues mentioned there is also the teaching on how society should be built, on the best way in which families are formed, on the best practices for child rearing in the interest of the child, and on the education children should receive.
The Church would be neglecting its duty if it does not speak about this, it would be doing a disservice to all Catholics as well as to all humanity, because the Church believes that all humans are created equally, and so are all called to the Truth. Yes one can say that not everybody agrees with or believes what the Church says, but that does not mean that the Church should not speak. Some might question the existence of the Truth; well I just invite these to go deeper in the understanding of themselves. The Church respects the stage in which individuals have arrived in their attaining of knowledge, and so she invites everyone to keep on searching, just as she is in a continuous search for a better understanding of reality. Some speak of the Church imposing its views. In these last few debates I have never seen the Church imposing anything, as it cannot impose anything; it just looks at living its role in this world, that of being a light to the Truth for all humanity towards their well-being.