You’ve got to keep them separated

The Church giving its opinion on how the country should be run has become such a common occurrence that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has its own spokesman.

Not so common is when the separation of Church and State is blurred from the other direction.

In November 2007, the Senate of the Philippines passed a resolution expressing its concern at the “grossly disproportionate” number of cardinals in country against the number of Catholics.

According to Senate Resolution 33, the Philippines, “the only Christian country in Asia, with 73 million Catholics has only three cardinals,” a situation that the Senate wanted remedied at once.

After all, India, which had ony 73 million Catholics at the time had five cardinals. Japan had two cardinals serving its 505,000 Catholics.

The resolution was passed and sent to the Papal Nuncio. A copy was sent to the CBCP, who promptly replied with a letter of appreciation.

Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales

But three years later, the Philippines still only has three cardinals: Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, and retired cardinals Jose Sanchez and Ricardo Vidal.

Senator Joker Arroyo, who made a privilege speech reminding the Senate about the resolution, said there has been no word from the Papal Nuncio about elevating more cardinals. Or, as it turns out, any word at all.

“Lamentably, the Papal Nuncio did not respond at all to the Senate, as if this chamber did not exist,” he said.

Despite the tragedy of still having too few cardinals, the non-incident at least shows an alternative way of looking at the separation of Church and State: That they are, indeed, separate.

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