The Church has always played a great role in the politics of Christian states. However, while the Middle Ages were the time of its full power, the Church’s influence in the modern world is not as significant. In the times of the crisis of faith, it is extremely important for pastors to unite people, and to remind them of their true reasons for existence. However, the state and the Church sometimes have different policies that come into conflict. For instance, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the society receives proper health care. At the same time, the Church does not recognize such practices as abortion. It is the responsibility of the Church to prevent society from making the wrong choice. For example, in Ireland, a country highly influenced by the Catholic Church, abortions are banned, which makes a lot of women travel to other states to have this procedure done. This is an example of the Church preventing the state from exercising its responsibilities to the society.
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The case described above is an example of the Church’s politicization. It is the process of interfering with the state’s politics to ensure society lives by religious rules. It is especially common in some Middle Eastern countries. Privatization, or the concept of keeping faith a personal thing, could be less advantageous for the Church, yet it gives more civil freedom for the society.
John Murray recognized the importance of cooperation between the state and the Church and covered it in the five principles (Thompson 61). According to him, people identify themselves as both Christian and citizens. Thus there should be the autonomy of the Church from the state. Besides, the state has a limited role in society. There is also a difference between the common good addressed by the Church, and the public order maintained by the state. Religious freedom should be a fundamental right, which, however, cannot object to the law. Finally, there is a concept of historical consciousness and the development of doctrine, which defines the attitude towards the actions of the Church regarding the context.
The Declaration of Religious Freedom has become the document that turned the Church from a conservative institution to a place of a discussion with modern society. The first steps were taken in the XIX century when Pope Leo XIII passed out Rerum Novarum that focused on the economic issues, especially the ones regarding labor. The issues of justice were the Church’s primary concern of the past century, and several state initiatives were taken to solve them. Finally, such human principles as love and compassion were formed in Deus Caritas Est. This document is especially important when talking about the modern issues of torture and immigration. It is a fact that the Church practiced torturing in the past, yet today it stands against it. However, its position against the American government practicing torture was not widely discussed, while the issue of immigration was clearly addressed with the Pope stating that all people have a right to move freely across the world.
The latest documents, like Gaudium et Spec (Gaudium et Spec para. 1) and Laudato Si (Laudato Si para. 1), support the liberal approach of the Church. For instance, the latter identifies the environmental issues as pressuring and defines the responsibility of people to take care of the planet. These documents address social, economic, and environmental problems from the religious perspective, stressing the importance of mercy, love, and compassion for all creatures and human beings.
Gaudium et Spes. La Santa Sede, n. d., Web.
Laudato Si. La Santa Sede, 2015, Web.
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Thompson, Joseph Milburn. Introducing Catholic Social Thought. Orbis Books, 2010.