In a recent reflection published on the website of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca expressed his concerns over the increased marginalization of religion, and of the attempts to silence its voice in society.
“Authentic religion, through the life and activity of its members, offers a valuable contribution to the development of a healthy society, to the more complete recognition of the dignity of the human person, to peaceful coexistence, to social justice and to the commitment to the common good,” the archbishop wrote in his article.
The prelate noted that historically when religion is relegated to the private sphere, it leads to the destruction of society. “A look at serious and critical studies of various countries and periods is enough to see what happens when religious expression is suffocated or marginalized in social life. What was achieved? Only regression, disintegration, meaninglessness and division in society for many years.”
“Religion inspires people to improve themselves and become better neighbors and citizens. It inspires believers to reach out to those in need. It has a role to play and makes a vital and irreplaceable contribution because religion gives weight, meaning, dynamism and transcendence to all human activity, to persons and to society itself,” the archbishop said.
He also noted that religion fosters the practice of virtues such as honesty, truth, unity, charity, justice, reconciliation and forgiveness. These are values that “strengthen life and the family” and that inspire people to be “more responsible and to be committed to justice and peace - to confront conflicts in a constructive way.”
“Authentic religion is … a source of comprehensive self-improvement,” the archbishop said, recalling that the recognition of human dignity, the abolition of slavery, the care for the sick and for orphans, the creation of hospitals, schools, universities and schools of art were all inspired by the Christian faith.