The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI gave our President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a copy of his Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”—the same which he gave to all Bishops much earlier this year.
The Pope writes in that encyclical “The just ordering of society and the state is a central responsibility of politics. As St. Augustine once said, a state which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves.” (No. 28a) It is a strong statement worth remembering. This is what Bishop Deogracias Iniguez has quoted in presenting his personal position of siding with the Kapisanan ng Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME). He clearly states that he is not bringing the CBCP in this personal option regarding the issue of impeachment.
Therefore, the CBCP respects Bishop Iñiguez personal option and will not go with the suggestion of Malacañang to sanction him because he also agrees with CBCP statements on Politics and Moral Values.
The pertinent statement of Pope Benedict XVI worth quoting is the following: “The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church’s responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church’s immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.
The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which will always demand sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet promotion of justice through the efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.” (Deus Caritas Est, No. 28)
Too often the “Separation of the Church and the State” is invoked. This separation should not be used as an argument against the participation and involvement of the Church in shaping the politics of our country. Concretely this means that the Bishops, Clergy and Laity must be involved on the area of politics when moral and Gospel values are at stake (cf. PCP II 344). The Pope says “the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “It is part of the Church’s mission to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it” (#2246).
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
June 30, 2006