The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, said the Mexican bishops have formally called for the reform of article 24 of the constitution to replace the phrase “freedom of worship and beliefs” with the basic concept of “religious freedom.”
During the presentation of the book, “15 Years of Relations Between The Holy See and Mexico,” at the conference’s headquarters, Bishop Aguiar said the request is intended to obtain guarantees of a fundamental right, that of religious freedom, which right now is ambiguously interpreted, often against the Church, because of the imprecise phrasing in the constitution.
“We are not saying that a bishop is going to be president of the country in the 21st century. What we are seeking is that the State continues to be secular, but that we move forward,” Bishop Aguiar said.
For the Catholic Church, he explained, the concept of religious freedom means freedom for all Mexicans, including the clergy, to “live their faith in public and private, individually or collectively, in every activity and sector, without any other limit besides that of respect for the rights of others.”
Bishop Aguiar emphasized that religious freedom is the greatest pillar for ensuring the secular State, which is not supposed to just “tolerate” the religious beliefs of its citizens, but rather defend, guarantee and promote them, because it recognizes that faith in a supreme being strengthens the ethical and moral conduct of citizens.”
He also explained that the concept of the secular state is one of respect and freedom for any religion and its members to contribute to society. On the other hand, secularism discriminates and marginalizes those with religious convictions and constitutes “a sort of creed that is imposed on others, nullifying in practice the real human right to freedom of belief.”
According to Bishop Aguiar, the concept of “freedom of worship” is very limited and outdated. “It’s from the 19th century, and therefore we need to update it and change the concept as other countries have done,” he added.
The bishop stressed that while the Church is patient and will “wait for the opportune moment,” “we will continue insisting as long as we have not obtained what we are seeking: religious freedom.”