.- The Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church met in Jerusalem March 11th-13th and issued a statement afterwards affirming that “the State should never limit religious freedom,” but that it has a duty to always promote and defend it, Vatican Radio has reported.
The statement, issued by Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia and Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen considered the theme: "Freedom of Religion and Conscience and its Limits."
The two addressed several themes of particular importance to the Holy Land, emphasizing the need to avoid “the improper use of religion” and the importance of teaching “respect for diversity.” These two issues, the statement continued, can be the basis upon which peace is established.
While such respect for diversity should be established, the religious leaders said, “the idea of moral relativism is antithetical to the religious view of the world and it constitutes a serious threat to humanity.
“Freedom of choice is derived from God and therefore is not absolute, but must reflect divine will and law,” reads the English-language communiqué. “Accordingly human beings are called to freely obey the divine will as manifested in the Creation and in His revealed word.”
“Secular society still requires religious foundations to sustain lasting moral values. Critical among these is the principal of the sanctity of human life and dignity.”
“The State,” the joint statement affirmed, “should in no way limit freedom of religion for individuals and communities nor of moral conscience.” At the same time however, the leaders affirmed that nations have “the responsibility to guarantee the wellbeing and security of society.”
“Accordingly [the State] is obliged to intervene wherever and whenever a threat is posed by the promotion, teaching or exercise of violence and specifically terrorism and psychological manipulation in the name of religion,” the statement adds.
It also pointed out that it is “legitimate” for “a society with a predominant religious identity to preserve its, as long as this does not limit the freedom of minority communities and individuals to profess their alternative religious commitments, nor limit their full civil rights.”
Duties of Religious leaders
Thus, the statement continues, “There is a special obligation upon religious leaders and communities to prevent the improper use of religion and to educate towards respect for diversity which is essential in order to ensure a healthy a, stable and peaceful society. In this regard, there is a special role for families, schools and the authorities of State and society as well as the media to impart these values to future generations.”
The declaration of the bilateral commission concludes with a call to religious and political leaders "to work determinedly to promote peace, dignity, security and tranquillity in the Holy Land for all its peoples and for the world as a whole."