Loading
In address to diplomats, Pope condemns limits on religious freedom
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Pope Benedict XVI has once more urged Muslim religious leaders and repressive governments to do more to protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities in their countries.

The Pope used his annual address to diplomats Jan. 10, known as his “state of the world address,” to highlight the growing assault on religious freedoms around the world. His tough language underscored the urgency of the conditions facing Christians around the world.

He again condemned attacks in recent months on Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria.

“This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities,” the Pope said.

He decried the assassination of the governor of Punjab state in Pakistan and urged Pakistanis to “abrogate” a blasphemy law that has been used by Muslim extremists to intimidate and imprison Christians.

“The particular influence of a given religion in a nation ought never to mean that citizens of another religion can be subject to discrimination in social life or, even worse, that violence against them can be tolerated,” the Pope said.

Benedict XVI also offered words of encouragement to Catholics in China, who he said were facing “a time of difficulty and trial.” 

He praised a recent effort by European Union leaders to defend the rights of Christians in the Middle East. He also welcomed a move last October by the Council of Europe to protect the rights of health care workers to “conscientious objection” against participating in abortions.

However, the Pope also had strong words for European governments and others in the West for their “marginalization of religion,” especially Christianity. 

Despite their professed interest in “pluralism and tolerance,” the Pope said, in many countries in the West “there is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society.”

“Christians are even required at times to act in the exercise of their profession with no reference to their religious and moral convictions, and even in opposition to them, as for example where laws are enforced limiting the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care or legal professionals,” Pope Benedict said.

In addition, the Pope criticized efforts to ban Christian holidays and symbols “under the guise” of showing respect for non-Christians and atheists. “By acting in this way, not only is the right of believers to the public expression of their faith restricted, but an attack is made on the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations.”

The Pope also took aim at efforts in Latin American countries to limit Church-run schools.
The Church and religious believers must have the freedom to make decisions about how best to educate their young, he said.

He added: “I cannot remain silent about another attack on the religious freedom of families in certain European countries which mandate obligatory participation in courses of sexual or civic education which allegedly convey a neutral conception of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason.”

The Pope's address was delivered to a group of diplomats representing the 178 nations that maintain relations with the Holy See in the picturesque Sala Regia at the Vatican.

In his lengthy discourse he said that it is time for world leaders to recognize that religion is a fundamental part of human nature.

"The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man’s being and acting, the measure of the fulfillment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs," the Pope explained.

Religious freedom is "the first of human rights," because it is about man's relation with his Creator, he said.

Freedom of worship, he reminded diplomats, is not full religious freedom. Believers must be able to practice their faith in all aspects of their life in society. Religious institutions, too, must be free to operate in society.

He pointed to a kind of double standard that exists in the way the world regards religious freedom.
“One cannot create a sort of scale of degrees of religious intolerance,” he said. “Unfortunately, such an attitude is frequently found, and it is precisely acts of discrimination against Christians which are considered less grave and less worthy of attention on the part of governments and public opinion.”

He urged the diplomats to remember that religion is a force for peace and development in their countries. He pointed to the example of the late Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcuta, whose 100th birthday was celebrated in many countries last year.

“People like her show the world the extent to which the commitment born of faith is beneficial to society as a whole,” Pope Benedict said.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
Dec
21

Liturgical Calendar

December 21, 2014

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Gospel
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14

Daily Readings


Gospel:: Lk 1: 26-38

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
12/15/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Homily
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14