Render unto Caesar: A panel session on religion and the public sphere

The Department of Philosophy
School of Humanities

is inviting everyone to


What is the role of religion in the public sphere? Does religion
impede the rationality of public debate? Or do we threaten religious
liberty when we seek to push religion into the private realm? This
panel session will explore some philosophical responses to the
apparent tensions between religious expression and liberal secularism,
the Church and the State, religious belief and public life.

27 June 2011
4:30-6:30 p.m.


Dr. Mark Calano
Mr. Eduardo Calasanz
Dr. Agustin Rodriguez

Philosophy Department
Ateneo de Manila University
426-6001 loc.5360/61

Reply to Daily Tribune’s Frontline: RH Bill, divorce, and separation of Church and State

Below is my reply to the author of the Daily Tribune’s Frontline artile entitled “No Church Issue” published 05/27/2011.


You cannot take religion and God out of the RH Bill because religion and God are not present in the RH Bill. In the place of God, you have in the RH bill the idols named “overpopulation”, “safe sex”, “reproductive health”, and “pro-choice”. Ancient Filipinos have fertility rituals–they pray for rain, abundant harvest, and many children. The RH bill, on the other hand, have infertility rituals: condoms, pills, and ligation–and abortion, if all these fail.

Separation of church and state means that churches have no business interfering with state matters, such as how and where to build roads, bridges, and buildings. At the same time, the state has no business interfering with morality which is the domain of the Church. The RH bill is in the domain of morality because it concerns human life and eternal salvation, so the Church has to intervene. As Christ said: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:21)

Italy is distinct from the and the Vatican City State where the Pope resides. So the government affairs of Italy is not the business of the Pope. But regarding condoms and pills, Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae (Art. 14) wrote: “it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.” This encyclical is not only for Italy (whose Northern parts were known as the Papal States for more than a thousand years) but for the whole Catholics worldwide, including the Philippines.

There is a distinction between annulment and divorce in the Catholic Church. Divorce is the breaking up of a valid marriage. This is not possible, because Christ said:

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, 7 whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” (Mt 19:4-10)

King Henry VIII of England asked the pope to allow him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused, so King Henry broke from the Catholic Church and declared himself the Head of the Anglican Church. By the way, many Anglican bishops and entire parishes are now converting to the Catholic Church.

On the other hand, annulment in the Catholic Church means that there was no marriage in the first place, so the man and the woman whose marriage was annulled are free to marry.

I am glad that the author recognizes that some contraceptives are abortifacients. Concerning contraception, as I said before, the state has no authority to define what is morally good or not, only the Church does. The Catholic Faith has united the warring tribes of the Philippines into a single nation. So for the sake of the common good and the Filipino religious tradition, the Philippine State should recognize the teaching authority of the Catholic Church in matters of morality. If the state cannot promote good morals, it is better that it desist from promoting bad morals by not passing the RH Bill into a state law.

If the author cannot see that the world has become more promiscuous, she may like to watch a Hollywood films and TV 60 years ago and compare it with the Hollywood films and TV now. She may like to count the average number of times that the following words are mentioned: sex and fuck. She may like to classify the films according to the number of scenes nudity in various levels is shown. This would be a good research paper, and the author would be surprised at her results: “The world indeed has become more promiscuous!”

What the pope is saying regarding condoms is that in conscience darkened by sin, the use of condoms to protect the partner from sexual disease can be a sign of the slow awakening of the moral sense. Here is the quote in full:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

“She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

Conversation of Archbishop Lefebre and Bishop Marchioni in 1976: Separation of Church and State and the Social Kingship of Christ

At the risk of repeating myself, I come back to the social kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that dogma of the Catholic faith, which no one can put in doubt without being a heretic: yes, exactly: a heretic!

Do They Still Have the Faith?

Make a judgment then on the dying faith of the Apostolic Nuncio in Bern, Bishop Marchioni, with whom I had the following conversation on March 31, 1976, in Bern:

Lefebre: Some dangerous things can easily be seen… In the declaration on religius liberty, there are some things contrary to what the Popes have taught: it is decided that there can no longer be Catholic States!

Nuncio: But of course, that is evident!

Lefebre: Do you thnk that that is going to do the church any good, this suppression of the Catholic States?

Nuncio: Ah, but you understand, if we do that, we will get a greater religious freedom with the Soviets!

Lefebre: But the social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, what are you doing about that?

Nuncio: You know, that is impossible now; perhaps in the distant future? .. Right now, this Reign is in perhaps in individuals’ we hwave to open ourselves up to the masses.

Lefebre: But the encyclical Quas Primas, what do you do with that?

Nuncio: Oh… the Pope would not write that any more, now!

Lefebre: Did you know that in colombia it was the Holy See that asked for the suppression of the Christian constitution of the State?

Nuncio: Yes, and here also.

Lefebre: In the Valais?

Nuncio: Yes, in the Valais.  Anow, you see, I am invited to all the meetings!

Lefebre: Then you approve the letter that Bishop Adam [Bishop of Sion, in the Valais] wrote to the faithful of his diocese to explain to them why they should vote for the law of separataion of Church and State?

Nuncio: You see, the social kingship of Our Lord, it is very difficult now…

You see, he no longer belie3ves in it: it is an “impossible” or “very difficult” dogma, “which would not be written now any more”!  And how many people think like this today!  How many are incapable of understanding that the Redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ must be brought about with the help of civil society, and that the State therefore must become, within the limits of the temporal order, the instrument of the application of the work of the Redemption.  they answer you, “Oh, those are two different things; you are mixing politics and religion!”

And yet, all has been created for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore for the accomplishment of the work of the Redemption: everything, including civil society, which, I have told you, is itself a creature of the good Lord!  civil society is not a pure creation of the will of men; it results abvove all from the social nature of man, from the fact that god has created men so that they will live in society; it is written into nature by the creator.  Therefore civil society itself, no loess than individuals, must render homage to god, its author and its end, and sever the redeeming design of Jesus Christ.

Source: Archbishop Marcel Lefebre, They Have Uncrowned Him: From Liberalism to Apostasy, the Conciliar Tragedy (Angelus, Kansas, 1988), pp. 99-101.

Rebuilding Philippines as a Christian Civilization through the Ten Commandments

The laws of a country must be based on Truth. “What is Truth?” Pilate asked Christ. Christ is the Truth, for he said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” So great a claim is backed by signs that prove his divinity, and the greatest of these is the Sign of Jonah: the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. If the Resurrection never happened, then Christ is a false prophet and Christianity is a false religion. And the twelve apostles–these twelve cowards, most of them only fishermen–will just remain in the upper room, hiding, for fear of the Jews. But the Resurrection did happen. And the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, went to preach to the whole world, baptizing new converts, and suffered martyrdom in the name of Christ.

But there are many groups calling themselves Christians, each group offering its own interpretation of what God has revealed as written in the Bible. One group says contraception, abortion, and divorce is okay. Another group says they are not. So on what branch of Christianity must be laws of a country be based? The laws of a country must be based on firm ground. If something is taught to be true years and centuries ago, the same teaching must still be taught as true today until the world ends. Contraception, abortion, and divorce cannot be wrong in the first centuries of Christianity but can be true now, as what Protestants in the US now claim. This is impossible Truth is timeless. Is there a group of Christians whose truths remain immutable in time? Yes, there is: it is the Catholic Church. Therefore, the laws of a country must be based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. The ideal country is a Catholic State. The ideal country is the City of God.

The Liberals rebel against union of the God and the State. What they want is to build a City Without God, a City of Man. They want to make a city that rises to the sky, piercing the clouds to very abode of God, as the men of the Babel did. They want to make a Paradise of universal brotherhood of men without the Fatherhood of God. We have seen these Utopias in the last century in the form of Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. They all failed. Nature abhors the vacuum. If you remove the God from the State, a demonic spirit will find it empty and swept clean. He will live in it and he will invite seven other demons to live with him: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth. And the state of the State will be more terrible than the first. If you want an example, look to the West.

What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is the commandment of Love: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Christ is our model on how to love our neighbor. “I solemnly assure you, whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done it to me.” We must love our neighbor because we love Christ.

Christ’s law of love is the essence and perfection of the Ten Commandments:

  1. I am the Lord your God.  You shall not have strange gods before me.
  2. You shall not speak the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

These laws must be the basis of the laws of our country.  They must be enshrined in our courtrooms, unlike in the US where they are now forbidden.  If we want a more detailed analysis of these laws, we must read the Catechism.  There you shall find all concepts that the Catholic Church has compiled in her two thousand years of thinking about the Ten Commandments:

  1. Doubt, Heresy, Apostasy, Schism, Despair, Presumption, Indifference, Hatred of God, Superstition, Idolatry, Divination and Magic, Irreligion, Atheism, Agnosticism
  2. Blasphemy, Perjury
  3. Sunday Rest
  4. Respect for Parents and Authority
  5. Legitimate Defense, Homicide, Abortion, Euthanasia, Suicide, Scandal, Drug Addiction, Experimentation on Humans, Organ Transplants, Kidnapping, Hostage Taking, Terrorism, Sterilizations, Amputations, Mutilations, Cremation, Anger, Hatred, Just War, National Defense
  6. Chastity, Lust, Masturbation, Fornication, Pornography, Prostitution, Rape, Homosexuality, Conjugal Fidelity, Fecundity of Marriage, Periodic Continence, Contraception, Gift of Child, Large Families, Adultery, Divorce, Separation, Polygamy, Incest, Free Union, Trial Marriage
  7. Private Property, Universal Destination of Goods, Theft, Promises, Contracts, Commutative Justice, Legal Justice, Distributive Justice, Restitution, Games of Chance, Slavery, Integrity of Creation, Economic Activity, Social Justice, Economic Initiative, Responsibility of the State, Business Enterprises, Access to Employment, Just Wage, Strike, Social Security Contributions, Unemployment, Rich Nations, Direct Aid, Full Development of Human Society, Lay Faithful, Works of Mercy, Human Misery
  8. Witnesses to the Gospel, Martyrdom, False Witness, Perjury, Rash Judgment, Detraction, Calmny, Flattery, Adulation, Complaisance, Boasting, Irony, Lie, Duty of Reparation, Request for Information, Secret of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Professional Secrets, Civil Authorities, Sacred Art
  9. Concupiscence, Modesty, Purification of Social Climate, Moral Permissiveness
  10. Envy, Poverty of the Heart

These are a mouthful.  Volumes of Books have been written about them by the Catholic Church.  Many laws were made based on them by Catholic States and Monarchies.  The Ten Commandments is the prescription for the happiness of man while he is still on earth, and the prescription for gaining heaven in the next life.  The Ten Commandments should, therefore, come before the Constitution of the State.  The Ten Commandments should be the basis of the laws of the State.  This is the yoke of Christ.  The State must govern under the yoke of Christ.  Christ promised:

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. (Mt 11:28-30)

If men refuse to the yoke of Christ, the wooden yoke of the cross, God will give them the yoke of Muhammad, iron yoke of the crescent (c.f. Jer 28:13). And this is what happened to Europe. They removed God and Christianity from their constitution and they ended up inundated by waves of Islamic colonization.  The Muslims refuse to integrate because they obey a different law, the Shariah law.  Europe is now dotted by mosques.  Arabic is now spoken in many European enclaves.  Women wear veils.  And the clerics preach hatred against the Christians and Jews.  In 2050, because of Europeans low birthrate after decades of contraception and abortion, Christian Europe shall be forgotten and the continent shall be called Eurabia.  As foretold by the Prophet Jeremiah:

Beware, I will bring against you a nation from afar, O house of Israel, says the LORD; A long-lived nation, an ancient nation, a people whose language you know not, whose speech you cannot understand. Their quivers are like open graves; all of them are warriors. They will devour your harvest and your bread, devour your sons and your daughters, Devour your sheep and cattle, devour your vines and fig trees; They will beat flat with the sword the fortified city in which you trust. Yet even in those days, says the LORD, I will not wholly destroy you. (Jer 5:15-18)

Rev. Leo A. Collum, S.J. on the Consecration of the Philippines to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pres. Ramon Magsaysay in 1956

During the ceremonies of the Second Eucharistic Congress held in the Philippines on Dec 2, 1956 in the Philippines, against the protest of several non-Catholic groups, President Magsaysay read an act consecrating the Philippines to the Sacred Heart.  The non-Catholic groups contended that it violated the principle of “Separation of Church and State,” and that the president, who is a political leader, should not consecrate the whole Philippines in a Catholic ceremony using an exclusive Catholic formula.  Dr. Gumersindo Garcia, in his objection said,  “In accordance with the principle of separation of Church and State, the president of this country should not give any special preference or favor to any particular Church.”  In reply, Rev. Leo Cullum of the Ateneo de Manila said that the basic principle of Church-State relation is that the government may not establish a Church, i.e. sect or give preference to one religion over another and what is corollary of this, may not prevent or hinder the exercise of any religion.  The principle, however, does not say that the Church is deprived of a de facto preference it enjoys by the presence of its members in high positions who thus reflect prestige upon it.  In this respect, President Magsaysay did not act as President in his official capacity but as a Catholic layman who was prominent because he was President and is therefore a natural leader and spokesman for his fellow Catholics.

The consecration could be done by anybody, and that in this case, the one chosen to lead the religious rite is the President who would therefore be acting in his capacity as an individual Catholic without committing the State in which he leads.  The right of the individual Catholic to the external manifestation of his love for God, invoking such impressive things as constitutional tradition and fundamental democracy and in questioning the extent to which an individual may publicly display his love to God can hardly be disputed.  It is tradition which allows us whether in public office or not to display to the world our love for God.


Jorge Rioflorido Coquia, Church and State Law and Relations, 4th ed., p. 82