Spanish bishop says public expression of faith is a right, not a “concession” from government

.- During his homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christ, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez, of Tarazona, said this week that the public expression of one’s faith “is not just some privilege that public officials grant us,” but rather “a right that we exercise.”
 
“In expressing publicly our faith,” Bishop Fernandez continued, “we are exercising a civil right that is rooted in the religious freedom of a free country.  It is not some privilege that is granted by public officials.  It is a right that we exercise in a civil way and as citizens.”
 
The Spanish bishop maintained that the expression of religious faith is not something that should be merely tolerated, but respected, “as the free expression of those who profess that faith, as part of a pluralistic society and, therefore, favored by those who should be looking after the common good of citizens.”
 
Bishop Fernandez went on to chide those who “proclaim a secular state in which religion is relegated to the private sphere of conscience” and churches in which “the state promotes a neutrality in which anything goes.”  The free exercise of religion should foster a coexistence and respect for others who believe differently, he continued, “but not preventing those who do believe from expressing their faith on the streets, in public life, in politics, education and all areas of life.”
 
“One who is a believer should not act as if he weren’t.  He should be recognized as one and should defend an outlook on life proper to a believer, wherever he happens to be.  This is not about defending an official State confession, but we should not allow a non-confessional, secular and atheist State to be imposed upon a society in which there are an abundance of believers,” the bishops noted.

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