Pope Says Church-State Split Owed to Christianity

Urges Autonomous Entities to Support Each Other

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Church is fully aware of the autonomy of Church and state, and the distinction between religion and politics is in fact a specific historical and contribution of Christianity, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received the letters of credence from Cristina Castañer-Ponce Enrile, the new ambassador of the Philippines to the Holy See.

He told the ambassador that the Church is eager to promote universal values and «advance mankind on the road to communion with God and one another.»

«The Catholic Church is eager to share the richness of the Gospel’s social message, for it enlivens hearts with a hope for the fulfillment of justice and a love that makes all men and women truly brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,» the Pontiff stated. «She carries out this mission fully aware of the respective autonomy and competence of Church and State. Indeed, we may say that the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.

«The Church is equally convinced that State and religion are called to support each other as they together serve the personal and social well-being of all. This harmonious cooperation between Church and State requires ecclesial and civic leaders to carry out their public duties with undaunted concern for the common good.»

A resource

Benedict XVI thanked the ambassador for the concern she expressed regarding the well-being of Filipino migrant workers.

Referring to the Global Forum on Migration and Development under way in Manila, the Pope said initiatives such as these are «fruitful when they recognize immigration as a resource for development rather than as an obstacle to it.»

«At the same time,» he said, «government leaders face numerous challenges as they strive to ensure that immigrants are integrated into society in a way that acknowledges their human dignity and affords them the opportunity to earn a decent living, with adequate time for rest and a due provision for worship. The just care of immigrants and the building up of a solidarity of labor requires governments, humanitarian agencies, peoples of faith and all citizens to cooperate with prudence and patient determination.

«Domestic and international policies aimed at regulating immigration must be based on criteria of equity and balance, and particular care is needed to facilitate the reunification of families. At the same time, conditions that foster increased work opportunities in peoples’ places of origin are to be promoted as far as possible.»

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