"ROME -- A pat on the back and the words 'well done' from Pope Benedict XVI more than made the day of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose political opponents back home filed an impeachment complaint against her hours before she met with the Pontiff."The Church has a long standing policy of not meddling in state affairs. Although more of a guideline than a reality, the Fillipines is a perfect example of why it should be the later.
The problem is some Bishops and priests just don't seem to listen.
Recently the Bishops in the Fillipines have requested a ban on the Da Vincy Code in theatres. The Government happily agreed.
This type of relationship is a recipe for disaster. And the Vatican knows it. Clerical matters are not state matters and vice versa. The Church has a right to speak out when it comes to moral issues - but not to wage political battles of the like we've seen in the Fillipines where the Church regularly sanctions insurrections against particular regimes. That can be a dangerous thing. The Church is not a government. And if it behaves as such, it will be perceived as such.
Most generally I've noticed that Ms Arroyo seems to do alot to curry favour with Catholics in that area of the world. It seems more like she's pandering for votes than really implementing these policies because they truly are sound.
Case in point:
"Handing the Pope a maroon booklet with the presidential seal, Ms Arroyo told Benedict: 'This is my second gift to you -- the abolition of the death penalty law. These two gifts are the expressions of faith of the Filipino people.'Notice the words?... It's a gift, not to God, not to the Filipino people but to the Pope. Then she explains how these acts are "expressions of faith"...
Forgive me for wondering, but does Ms Arroyo really believe that the death penatly and abortion are wrong? It seems to me she just thinks they are "gifts" to show fidelity to the Pope. She's making good policy decisions no doubt, but I wonder if she's more Constantine than St Maurice so to speak.
"Ms Arroyo emerged from her 20-minute talk with the Pope claiming that she had virtually gotten his blessing for the way she ran the government and for pursuing policies in line with Catholic teachings."Ms Arroyo couldn't pay for this type of propaganda even if she tried. She appears to have the blessing of the Pope himself. The Pope appears to have betrayed the very same rule the Vatican has chastised Bishops in Austria during Hitler's regime for breaking: don't meddle in politics. Speak out on moral issues - but do not appear to support one politicaly party or person over another.
" 'The Pope is very supportive and encouraging,' she said, adding that a big part of the talk was about the situation in the Philippines."
" 'He loves the Philippines and is happy about our policies, which are attuned to the teachings of the Church,' Ms Arroyo said in an interview with government television station NBN 4"
But things may not be what they seem:
"The Pope does not look kindly on the alleged meddling of the Church in Philippine affairs, said Ms Arroyo, who has been the target of criticisms from certain Filipino bishops."The Bishops in the Fillipines have given Arroyo a very hard time. The Vatican back in 2005 chastised those very same Bishops for political interference. It is so bad that the impression that has been left is that the Church doesn't support her regime and they want her out. That is distinctly a political determination and is way way outside making a moral proclamation of the faith.
"She said she got this impression after she received a copy of an encyclical on the Church and justice which, according to her, spoke of 'the role of the Church in the search for justice.' "
It appears that the Pope may playing a political balancing act. By appearing to support Arroyo he may be figuring that is the best way to balance the damaging effects of the Bishops in this region.