It’s a common question: should religion and politics mix?
To be clear, it has always been the position of the Catholic Church that the political community and the Church are mutually independent and self-governing. And just as the political community should guarantee the Church, and other religions, the space needed to carry out their respective mission, the Church also respects the legitimate autonomy of the democratic order.
However, this separation does not mean that all cooperation should be excluded. The Church and the state both put themselves at the service of humanity and this common purpose will mean that the state and the Church may on occasion share common ground in their pursuit of a more just society.
Conversely, the Church and the state may sometimes be at odds on specific issues. The Church has the right and duty to provide a moral judgement on temporal matters when this is required by faith or the moral law. One example would be the state supported killing of innocent unborn human beings in the womb. The Church would be failing in her duty to serve humanity by ignoring the plight of innocent and defenceless children.
The separation of Church and state does not mean that people of faith should disconnect from public action. Some people argue that religion should be confined to the private sphere. This is not helpful for society. The fundamental right to religious freedom should be maintained and provide protection for religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life. This is a basic human right.
The Church does not seek to exercise political power or eliminate the freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding political questions. Instead it seeks to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful, particularly those involved in political life, so that their actions may serve the promotion of the human person and the common good.
On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland the Catholic Parliamentary Office seeks, among other things, to promote the dignity of the human person and the common good. Furthermore, we encourage lay Catholics to active participation in the democratic order.