The president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, said this week on Vatican Radio that places of worship should not be “converted into a propaganda center to spread fanaticism and hatred.”
The cardinal made his comments during an interview on the issue of new mosques and Islamic cultural centers being built in areas and cities that for centuries have been traditionally Christian.
During the interview by Romilda Ferrauto of Vatican Radio’s French-language broadcast, Cardinal Tauran said, “The building of a new place of worship should be in response to a real need of the religious community in question. And this goes as well for the place that is chosen and its dimensions.”
“As we know, a place of worship is a right that is clearly derived from the right to religious freedom, as all the declarations of international law point out. This right belongs to all religious communities and should be applied in all places: it is what we call ‘freedom of worship’, that is, the right to have a place of worship,” he said.
“The construction of a place of worship must never be an act of defiance towards other religious communities, especially with regards to the majority community. Therefore, it is good, for example, that places of worship have a certain distance between them, even for practical reasons.”
“I think it is important a place of worship be a house of prayer. It should not be turned into an ideological propaganda center to spread fanaticism and hatred. And finally, there needs to be transparency in the financing of the construction and development of places of worship,” Cardinal Tauran stated.
He also noted that “in all of the international congresses in which freedom of religion is mentioned, there is always a clause that foresees that political leaders, the leaders of the State, have the right to verify that the freedom of religion being exercised by a community does not jeopardize the freedom of other religious communities, and that security and public order are always guaranteed.”