Spending some time in southern Europe last week gave me the opportunity to ponder the relationship between religion and politics.

Until recently, I had thought that this relationship could effectively be divided into two types: the first, when religion defines politics, as seen in medieval European politics based on pre-modern Christian theocracy, or in more recent Islamic theocracy based on a strict interpretation of the Quran; and the second, in which church and state are separate, as in modern secular democracies.

However, I realized that things were not so simple after a recent visit to Rome to learn about the state of relations between the Holy See and the Chinese Communist Party, and to Malaga, in Spain, where I was reminded of the shared history between Catholicism and Islam.