BY Ian Dunn | December 17 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pope calls for religous freedoms to be respected

Pope Benedict XVI has said that the lack of religious freedom for Christians is unacceptable and undermines efforts to build peace around the world.

The Pope stated this in a message released for the 44th World Day of Peace on January 2011. The theme for the message is Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace.

“At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith,” the Pope said.

He mentioned in particular recent attacks on Christians in Iraq: ‘which continues to be a theatre of violence and strife as it makes its way towards a future of stability and reconciliation.’

“This situation is unacceptable since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development,” the Holy Father said.

“It could be said that among the fundamental rights and freedoms rooted in the dignity of the person, religious freedom enjoys a special status,” he added. “When religious freedom is acknowledged, the dignity of the human person is respected at its root, and the ethos and institutions of peoples are strengthened.”

The Pope noted that religious freedom is ‘an achievement of a sound political and juridical culture.’

He warned that ‘the exploitation of religious freedom to disguise hidden interests, such as the subversion of the established order, the hoarding of resources or the grip on power of a single group, can cause enormous harm to societies.’

The Pontiff added: “I invite all those who wish to be peacemakers, especially the young, to heed the voice speaking within their hearts and thus to find in God the stable point of reference for attaining authentic freedom, the inexhaustible force which can give the world a new direction and spirit, and overcome the mistakes of the past.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, echoed the Holy Father’s words at a press conference to mark the release of the Pope’s statement.
The cardinal affirmed that ‘the Holy Father, in his message, sees the safeguarding of religious freedom in our multicultural, multi-religious and secularized world as one of the ways to safeguard its peace.’

The cardinal also explained that the Pope chose the theme Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace, because the living of religious freedom, ‘a basic vocation of man and a fundamental, inalienable and universal human right, and key to peace—has come under great stress and threat.’

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