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Religion and politics in the global era

Rome, 30/09/2008, Aspenia
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The upshot of this debate was that the church has every right to participate in a public debate, but the state must remain secular. Laws cannot respect only certain citizens' beliefs, but must hold true for everyone. Therefore, a new balance must be struck between religion and politics, especially on those issues that touch people in the XXI century so closely. Bioethics, the fight against poverty, economic challenges, the introduction of values into previously economic decisions: these are just a few of the issues to be dealt with in developing a healthy relationship between politics and religion in this age of globalization. Any attempt to ignore the religious question - panelists stressed - wil do no good. Also, a purely market-oriented approach will no longer do: it must be abandoned. To understand today's reality, discussion must turn to the social market economy.

Today's societies are made up of numerous races, languages, cultures and religions. Religion is an increasingly important factor for cohesion: Christianity, with its universal approach, is open to dialogue. It should not be thought of as an optional for the West, but rather as an investment for the world. The global world needs a rational religious ethic more than ever, something that Christianity can provide, having fused all the Greek and Roman thought that preceded it.

What we need is a new relationship between secular and religious faith: secular thought as it was understood in the 1800s may no longer be valid, but nor would a hegemonic push by the church be acceptable. In some cases, of course, religion has not proved exactly rational or in tune with the common good. Globalization has only served to highlight diverse identities and has produced a return to religious wars in the heart of Europe. Thus, religious faiths and the state must live in harmony for conflict to be avoided.

Today, more than ever, does the following quote apply, when considering relations between the church and secular authority: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." From this perspective, if the church cannot substitute the state, nor engage directly in political battles, it must nevertheless participate - the church cannot stay on the sidelines in a battle for justice.