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The distinction between the Church and the political community

The Church recognizes the distinction between the Church and the political community, each of which has distinct ends; the Church is in no way confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system. The political community must see to the common good and ensure that citizens can lead a "calm and peaceful life" in this world. The Church recognizes that it is in the political community that the most complete realization of the common good is to be found Vgl. Catechismus-Compendium, Catechismus van de Katholieke Kerk (15 aug 1997), 1910; this is to be understood as "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily" Catechismus-Compendium, Catechismus van de Katholieke Kerk (15 aug 1997), 1906. It is the State’s task to defend it and ensure the cohesion, unity and organization of society in order that the common good may be realized with the contribution of all citizens and that the material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods necessary for a truly human existence may be made accessible to everyone. The Church, for her part, was founded in order to lead the faithful to their eternal end by means of her teaching, sacraments, prayer and laws.

This distinction is based on the words of the Lord Jesus (Christ): "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" (Mt. 22, 21). In their own areas, the political community and the Church are independent of each other and autonomous. When it is a question of areas which have both temporal and spiritual ends, such as marriage or the education of children, the Church is of the view that the civil power should exercise its authority while making sure not to damage the spiritual good of the faithful. The Church and the political community, however, cannot ignore one another; from different points of view they are at the service of the same people. They exercise this service all the more effectively for the good of all the more they strive for healthy mutual cooperation, as the Second Vatican Council expressed it Vgl. 2e Vaticaans Concilie, Constitutie, Over de Kerk in de wereld van deze tijd, Gaudium et Spes (7 dec 1965), 76.

The distinction between the Church and the political community is ensured by respecting their reciprocal autonomy, which conditions their mutual freedom. The limits of this freedom are, for the State, to refrain from adopting measures which could do harm to the eternal salvation of the faithful, and, for the Church, to respect the public order of the State.

Document

Naam: NOTITIES OVER DE VRIJHEID EN INSTITUTIONELE AUTONOMIE VAN DE KATHOLIEKE KERK
Bij gelegenheid van het onderzoek door het Europese Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens
Soort: Raad voor de Openbare Aangelegenheden - Staatssecretariaat
Auteur: Aartsbisschop Dominique Mamberti
Datum: 16 januari 2013
Copyrights: © 2013, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Voorlopig Engelstalige versie
Bewerkt: 7 november 2019

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