Public officials who limit religious freedom are “unacceptable tyrants,” archbishop warns

.- Upon celebrating the feast of St. Vincent the Martyr, patron of the Archdiocese of Valencia, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco warned that “when public officials and ideologies limit religious freedom they commit a profound injustice and turn political systems into unacceptable tyrants.”

In his homily, which was published by the AVAN news agency, the archbishop expressed his concern over “the culture fostered by public officials and some in the media, who seek to disregard God” and argue that reason cannot grasp the Divine.  These ideologies, he stressed, “aspire for a world without God, a world subject only to political power, to economic power, and to media power.”

Nevertheless, he emphasized, “no human power can limit the radical right that all men and women of this world have to know the Gospel, to live it and to spread it at all times during their lives.”  St. Vincent, the archbishop underscored, “reminds us that the mission of proclaiming the Gospel also encompasses social and public life,” and he encouraged Catholics “not to fear the risks.”

According to Archbishop Garcia-Gasco, throughout history, Christians “have been condemned as criminals, suspected of horrendous crimes” and he stressed that “the calumnies have decisively influenced the image of Christianity that has been spread throughout the world.”  He also noted the propaganda and malicious intent by many to create an anti-Christian public opinion.  The archbishop said Christians should respond by “remaining firm, united to the Pope and to the Church without fear.”

Continuing on his homily, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco denounced the secularist attempt to link the name of God “with vengeance or even with hatred and violence.”  “God and violence are incompatible,” he said.

“Reason open to God,” he went on, “is a source of happiness for man, and it invites us to reject fanaticism, to profoundly respect the dignity of the person, of all persons, in all stages of his existence.”  Likewise, he said, “reason open to God is a source of peace and understanding between cultures; it rejects violence and promotes the true progress and freedom of peoples.”

In face of the “new tyrannies” of the 21st century, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco exhorted the faithful to follow the Gospels and the example of St. Vincent the Martyr, “who teaches us tolerance in the face of intolerance; freedom in the face of submission; humanism in the face of fanaticism; conscience in the face of violence.”

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