Religious Freedom

Respect for religious freedom is indispensable for world peace, Spanish archbishop says

Respect for religious freedom is indispensable for world peace, Spanish archbishop says

.- In a pastoral letter entitled, “The Commitment Which Benedict XVI Asks of Us,” Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia told the faithful of his diocese this week that “the core values of the human being are protected if the three basic goods of each value are respected: his dignity, his life, and his religious freedom.” 

“Only if we recognize these untouchable rights will we prevent unacceptable interference in human rights,” the archbishop said, adding that if such rights are violated, world peace is in danger.

Especially at risk, the archbishop said, is the right of religious freedom for Catholics amidst the “systematic cultural derision shown towards religious beliefs.” Garcia-Gasco lamented that such an affront to religious freedom is even present “in democratic countries (such as Spain) that seemed to have cemented respect for the freedom of persons.”

“Without an attitude of respect, without cultivating the virtue of justice that allows us to know and to give to each person what belongs to him, peace is threatened in every aspect of social life,” Archbishop Garcia-Gasco underscored.  He added that “unconditional respect for the dignity of each human” should be fostered at every level of society.

After pointing out that we are all called to be “caretakers of the gift of life that we receive from God,” the archbishop warned that the dignity of the human being “is trampled upon in our society every time there is an attack against life,” whether from “armed conflicts, terrorism and the diverse forms of violence” or from “the silent deaths provoked by hunger, abortion, and experimentation with human embryos.”

The archbishop urged Catholics to reject the relativistic ideologies, “which ends the lives of human beings in the most difficult moments of their existence and stems from utilitarian interests or economic policies that see the human being as a burden when he is not capable of producing.”

Regarding religious freedom, the archbishop stressed that peace in the world is in danger “when Christians and the followers of other religious encounter difficulties in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions,” and he warned against an “intolerant secularism” that seeks to prohibit all public expressions of faith.

“When the dignity of the human being is not respected, when life is attacked and freedom is oppressed,” he stated, “what ends up being promoted is a mentality and a culture hostile to peace.”  

Archbishop Garcia-Gasco called for “the re-making of a true culture of human dignity and of fundamental rights, so that the desires for authentic peace are not radically frustrated.”

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