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Archive of January 20, 2007

Respect for religious freedom is indispensable for world peace, Spanish archbishop says

Valencia, Fla., Jan 20, 2007 (CNA) - In a pastoral letter entitled, “The Commitment Which Benedict XVI Asks of Us,” Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia told the faithful of his diocese this week that “the core values of the human being are protected if the three basic goods of each value are respected: his dignity, his life, and his religious freedom.” 

“Only if we recognize these untouchable rights will we prevent unacceptable interference in human rights,” the archbishop said, adding that if such rights are violated, world peace is in danger.

Especially at risk, the archbishop said, is the right of religious freedom for Catholics amidst the “systematic cultural derision shown towards religious beliefs.” Garcia-Gasco lamented that such an affront to religious freedom is even present “in democratic countries (such as Spain) that seemed to have cemented respect for the freedom of persons.”

“Without an attitude of respect, without cultivating the virtue of justice that allows us to know and to give to each person what belongs to him, peace is threatened in every aspect of social life,” Archbishop Garcia-Gasco underscored.  He added that “unconditional respect for the dignity of each human” should be fostered at every level of society.

After pointing out that we are all called to be “caretakers of the gift of life that we receive from God,” the archbishop warned that the dignity of the human being “is trampled upon in our society every time there is an attack against life,” whether from “armed conflicts, terrorism and the diverse forms of violence” or from “the silent deaths provoked by hunger, abortion, and experimentation with human embryos.”

The archbishop urged Catholics to reject the relativistic ideologies, “which ends the lives of human beings in the most difficult moments of their existence and stems from utilitarian interests or economic policies that see the human being as a burden when he is not capable of producing.”

Regarding religious freedom, the archbishop stressed that peace in the world is in danger “when Christians and the followers of other religious encounter difficulties in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions,” and he warned against an “intolerant secularism” that seeks to prohibit all public expressions of faith.

“When the dignity of the human being is not respected, when life is attacked and freedom is oppressed,” he stated, “what ends up being promoted is a mentality and a culture hostile to peace.”  

Archbishop Garcia-Gasco called for “the re-making of a true culture of human dignity and of fundamental rights, so that the desires for authentic peace are not radically frustrated.”

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Holy Father to address the Church in China

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2007 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Holy See has made public a communication which honors the many bishops, priests, and faithful of China, who have, “without compromise,” maintained full communion with the Pope, “even in times when the cost is grave suffering.”  The communiqué also states that Pope Benedict XVI will soon write a letter to Catholics in China.

The Vatican message follows a meeting, conducted over the 19th and 20th of January, in which several Vatican officials and Chinese bishops examined “the most grave and urgent” problems for the Church in China and offered their best solutions in light of “the fundamental principles of the Divine Constitution of the Church and of religious liberty.”

The meeting was especially necessary, the communication said, “in light of the tormented history of the Church in China and the key events of the last year” in which the Chinese government ordained several bishops without the permission of Rome in addition to the kidnapping and punishment of several bishops and priests loyal to the Successor of St. Peter.

During the meeting the prelates “took note, with profound gratitude, of the clear testimony offered by the bishops, priests, and faithful who, without compromise, have maintained their fidelity to the Chair of Peter, even in times when the cost is grave suffering.”

The press release also affirms that with “particular joy,” “it was ascertained that nearly all bishops and priests remain in communion with the Supreme Pontiff.”

Also emphasized in the meeting was the numerical growth “of the Church community which, in China also, is called to offer testimony to Christ, to look ahead with hope and to take into account, in the preaching of the Gospel, the new challenges that society faces.”

“There emerged,” the communiqué continued, “the desire to proceed on the path of a respectful and constructive dialogue with government authorities, in order to overcome past misunderstandings.”

The note ended by announcing that, the Holy Father, who remained fully informed about the progression of the meeting’s conversations, “has benevolently resolved to address a letter to Catholics in China.”

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