Francesco Zaratti writes in Los Tiempos:
Church and state, different but not separate
Several reviews recently published in different newspapers in La Paz have expressed criticism of the “lies” and the alleged “interference” of the Catholic Church on matters of state with arguments that merit replication in the context of pluralism and respect for the truth. In fact, some columnists (and not only them) do not hide their desire to silence the voice of the Church in matters of morality and common good on behalf of the Plurinational State of secularism.
At the start of the constituent process I published an article in the now defunct Weekly Pulso, which recognized the need to update the relations between Church and State, setting aside outdated concepts such as economic support to the clergy or interference and political and ideological submission (as were the “mediations” in social conflicts, which also benefited the coca growers’ leader Evo Morales).
Appealing to a metaphor, explaining a secular state is like living in different rooms, but in the same house, the house of the Bolivian people. In other rooms, they inhabit justice, the electoral authority, the armed forces, universities and the media, among others. It is obvious that an autocrat and totalitarian government tend to assume all functions, get into other rooms and control all activities, but generally what you want in a home is to have democratic independence of each guest. Of course that does not mean separation: with exclusive spaces, common areas where there will be living, shaking hands or step in other’s foot, conducting a conversation or viewed with anger, collaborating sometimes, hindering in others; always respecting the functions of each.
So seems strange that the Vice President talk about “managing souls” as the proper function of the Church and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs persisting in organizing religious ceremonies that do not concern them, instead of inviting different religious denominations to participate in civic events, without interfering in the organization of worship.
A secular state, as it is today Bolivia, fails to comply with religious slogans, but also can not be deaf to the representative voices of society in all fields, including ethics. In turn, if the Church were to shut in these situations, it would lose its essence of service to the truth of Christ’s love (Caritas in Veritate). When the Church makes its voice on matters of public interest, it does not impose but geared mainly to the faithful and therefore calls on the authorities to the laws and morals of Bolivian society, largely based on Christian values.
Why then, is it attacked when the Church claims the Government, on behalf of Christian ethics, consistency with CPE and the controversial judgment of TCP on abortion? If the Minister of Health, in exercise of his powers, took an administrative measure, these columnists should direct his pen against the Government for failing to meet the demands of groups related to their ideas, or, instead, for the alleged submission of the State to the Church.
Basically, they (as well as certain opponents of President Evo) express “genetic” animosity toward the Catholic Church before showing an interest to defend valiantly, to whom corresponds, their Church beliefs. As militancy or political sympathy not allow them to confront the government, the easier it will be to attack the Church, even at the expense of distorting and blurring the respectful relationship that should exist between church and state.
The author is a physicist.