.- The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez said this week he supports the neutrality of the State regarding religion, but he defended the right of Catholics to participate in public life and to exercise their freedom of religion.
During a gathering on dialogue between cultures and religions organized by the Atman Foundation, Bishop Blazquez, participating in a panel on the compatibility of democracy and a state religion, called on the State to work together with the different religious confessions.
The bishop called Vatican II an important event for his generation and his guide. “We all have a right to religious freedom, which cannot be forced nor imposed, neither towards the interior nor toward the exterior, both in private and in public,” he added.
Bishop Blazquez also noted that the Catholic Church in Spain has always been open to dialogue and collaboration with the government, with political leaders, with cultural leaders and institutions, in order to achieve reconciliation. “That is our position today,” he stated.
Lastly, Bishop Blazquez acknowledged the benefits of a secularism that respects plurality, “and on the basis of that premise a religiously-neutral State that respects all religions is good, “but that is not the case with a secularism that seeks to suppress the religious freedom of citizens.”