If you're a celebrity, you don't stop being one after the cameras or the stage lights go off. People will still recognize you in public, and, if they're bold enough, they approach and ask for a photo. You can be angry about it, but most of the time you'll just smile and let them get what they want.
In the same way, if you really want to live your faith in all integrity, if you are Catholic, for instance, you don't stop being one wherever you are. Whether you're a doctor, a politician, a journalist, a celebrity chef, a vegetarian humanitarian, a mad scientist, or a rock star mathematician, if integrity means anything to you, then you know that having a certain job is no license for not living in the way you should as a man/woman of faith.
That's why I get really puzzled when I encounter screams of "Separation of Church and State!" to mean that in matters of the State or secular affairs, your faith has no right to interfere. Okay, so by that logic, you must not live in full integrity. A doctor on vacation who, in midflight, comes upon a fellow passenger suffering from a heart attack must then be able to say, "I'm no doctor today." A celebrity should be able to shop at the supermarket in peace because he can shed his fame at the baggage counter.
That key phrase "Separation of Church and State" actually refers to amity: both institutions have a purpose and they must be allowed to carry out this purpose in peace. So while the State takes care of the welfare of individuals, the Church takes care of their souls, according to her teachings. In which case, the State allows the Church to carry out her apostolate, and the Church lets the State take the helm at pursuing the common good.
The pursuit of this common good takes into consideration the entire person: not merely that the individual is a man or a woman, old or young, whatever. It's about creating an environment that allows persons to grow fully and holistically, and not misleading them into a false sense of power, and not favoring the rights of one sector over the other. The State can make anything legal, but it has to be something that will benefit all the people, and not just a chosen few. And for that to be possible, it has to be something inherently good.
You've probably guessed that the issue that got me to write about this involves the RH Law. Because, boo hoo, you Church people are such bullies that you meddle in State affairs, that's why we never get this super essential law up and running to help save the poor from their overproducing selves.
First of all, the Church speaks her mind because it is her duty to do so--she takes care of souls, okay? You can ignore them bishops if you want, but that doesn't change the truth of which they speak. Besides, they can't run for office anyway, so why are you all so scared? Are you afraid more people will finally understand that what they are teaching is actually the better solution? (Living the virtue of chastity before and after the wedding, protecting the family, upholding marriage, and learning to love selflessly!)
Secondly, where's the common good in a law that stomps on the basic rights to life, religious freedom, and free speech of an affected few? I thought common good meant the good of all. People are so touchy about their freedom of expression, and here's a law that suppresses that. How come no one is crying foul?
Thirdly, the people who make the law, if they actually try to live unity in their life--that is, not checking the teachings of their faith at the door--may actually help everyone by really looking into what will make this a better country, and not proposing lazy solutions.
- You want maternal health? Train more midwives, provide better facilities, and make maternal care accessible.
- You want fewer teen pregnancies? Get teens to dream big, trust that they have what it takes to get there, and don't assume they will be useless kids who'll just get knocked up and therefore need condoms.
- You want to protect women from abusive husbands? Address problems on alcohol and drug abuse, encourage spouses to communicate, and don't give men an excuse to say "you won't get pregnant anyway because you're on the pill."
- You want to remove "hopeless" people who wander aimlessly on the streets? Train them for a livelihood, teach them to fish!
In fact, there are so many better solutions to all the problems the RH thing is trying to solve. And, if you want to live integrity in your life and help others to do the same, you'll think of these ways and you'll see how good they turn out to be. In the end, it's not about outspoken bishops meddling in secular affairs, but rather about making it possible for each and everyone of us to live in a way that affirms our dignity, in a way that will lead us to true happiness, because we get to be whole, and we get to be truly free.