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Friday, July 25, 2008

Not for CATHOLICS alone

Here's a very profound explanation that should enlighten a lot of people on what the SEPARATION of the CHURCH and the STATE actually means.

Not for Catholics alone

Cebu Daily News
First Posted 12:56:00 07/25/2008

Our founding fathers, from different walks of life, were united by their opposition to “frailocracy,” which was why, as our first president was sworn into office, the altar at Malolos town was hidden behind a curtain. A hundred years later, Joseph Estrada would take his oath of office in the same church, but with the altar taking center stage.

When the bishops withdrew the Mandate of Heaven from Marcos, our development as secular nation basically came to an end. It’s no coincidence that after the EDSA People Power uprising in 1986, Catholic schools began to insist that an invocation should precede the national anthem. This would have been unthinkable from the time of our first revolution against Spain up to the New Society, but after the Miracle of EDSA, times changed.

Our flag has a triangle derived from the Masonic triangle and our national anthem enjoins us to love, and die, for native land, not God. This proclamation of a fundamental, secular identity, it seems, is intolerable to the clergy. So long as there was a residual memory of the birth of our nation and the ideas that brought that nation forth, the Catholic hierarchy had to submit.

The separation of Church and State, of course, does not mean that religion has no role in our democratic society. It only means that no religion can enjoy preferential treatment to the disadvantage of others. For example, membership in a particular church or sect can’t be a precondition for appointive or elected office. One’s faith is supposed to be neither aid nor hindrance to the exercise of citizenship. In some cases, the State has even relaxed its rules in order to satisfy the requirements of individual religious conscience, such as excusing Jehovah’s Witnesses from participating in flag ceremonies.

If our secular state treads carefully so as to ensure that religious freedom (and freedom of conscience) is respected, particularly in the case of religious practices by minorities, it is less careful about the religion practiced by the majority of Filipinos. This is what sets the question of the separation of Church and State with regard to the Catholic hierarchy apart. The faith and morals of Catholics happen to be the articles of faith of the majority – and we are a nation that subscribes to the principle that questions of policy and leadership are best solved by invoking majority rule.

Any serious Catholic is under the same obligation as any decent Filipino to defend his principles, to the death, if need be. To demand of Catholics that they restrict the application of their faith and morals to the confines of their homes and churches is essentially to ask them to commit apostasy. But it is fair and just to remind the hierarchy and the rest of the Catholic citizenry that our Republic does not exist for Catholics alone, and this means that their faith and morals cannot be made the exclusive basis for state policy. – Manuel Quezon III, Inquirer