No room for Church meddling

June 21, 2010

‘Our officials should keep their piety private. In exchange, the people would let their hypocrisy pass unnoticed.’

THE Catholic hierarchs earlier said they would not accept the invitation of the education department to review the sex education subjects that will be pilot-tested this year. Now, the word is some representatives of the Church would be meeting with educators after all, but this would only be to reiterate its position that sex education is not the business of the schools and should be left exclusively to parents.

If that’s the Church’s stand, the education department might as well declare that its officials are prepared to humor the Church representatives but are determined to implement the order come what may.

Gloria Arroyo herself issued the order for education officials to dialog with Church representatives. She is exiting on June 30, to be succeeded by Noynoy Aquino who has a more enlightened appreciation of the need to address reproductive health. The officials can dribble the ball during the transition.

We have not seen an administration more servile than Gloria’s to the Church. To reciprocate Gloria’s servility, we have not seen the Church more forgiving of a sitting administration’s legal and moral trespasses.

"Sama sama na sila," as the saying goes, with the coming into power of President-elect Noynoy Aquino.

We recognize, of course, the Church’s right to express its stand on any moral issue. Bishops, priests and the laity are after all citizens with a constitutionally guaranteed right to the exercise of free speech.

But the separation of the Church and State, according to the Constitution, should be inviolable. This means, in the Philippine context, not only for the government not to listen to any religious groups but to turn a deaf ear to all of them. The principle of Church-State separation is a reaction to the Church’s – basically through the friars – meddling in governance which reached its peak during the Spanish colonial rule.

(The constitutional principle is meant to stop Church meddling. It is sets a far higher wall on Church-State separation than the "no-establishment" clause in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," the US Constitution says. This is universally interpreted as, at the maximum, a prohibition against favoring any religious group and, at the minimum, a ban against the setting up of any state religion.)

Our officials should keep their piety private. If they did, we the citizens, in exchange, would let their hypocrisy pass unnoticed.

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