Archbishop Jose Martin Rabago of Leon, Mexico recently reflected on the necessity of religious freedom. As he recalled Pope Benedict XVI's message for the World Day of Peace, the archbishop noted that religious freedom is the foundation for all other rights a society needs in order to live in justice.
Archbishop Rabago asserted that without religious freedom “it is not possible to create a just society, and consequently, establish authentic and stable peace for the entire human family,” reported the Mexican bishops' conference.
The archbishop then underscored the need for the freedom of education that ensures parents can decide what they wish their children to be taught, even in public schools. The imposition of religious education by any church, or of anti-religious education, directly or indirectly, by the government, would be a true injustice against religious freedom,” he added.
Archbishop Rabago stressed that his comments were not meant to encourage the establishing of a sectarian state but rather the strengthening of the public dimension of religion, while at the same time respecting the secular character of state institutions.
“For this reason,” he continued, “the state must be more tolerant and welcoming. In modern nations no religious confession is established as the state religion. However, neutrality does not prevent cooperation. Public officials should exercise their right to religious freedom by expressing their own religious convictions,” the archbishop said.
He noted the timeliness of the Pope’s message, especially given the violence that is spreading across Mexico. The archbishop said that the building of peace “requires that the human rights of every citizen be recognized and respected and that the State create appropriate conditions for them to be properly exercised.”
“In this moment of grave violence our country is experiencing, there is a universal clamor for peace. We must not be confused about the paths that will lead us to an authentic peace,” he concluded.