Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/11/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others.

Another sign of the marginalization of religion, and of Christianity in particular, is the banning of religious feasts and symbols from civic life under the guise of respect for the members of other religions or those who are not believers. By acting in this way, not only is the right of believers to the public expression of their faith restricted, but an attack is made on the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations. (Pope Benedict XVI)

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the Diplomatic Corps

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the Diplomatic Corps

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/11/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, Religious Freedom, Fundamental Human Right, Vatican, Holy See, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Every New Year the Pope addresses the Diplomatic Corps. The Vatican has diplomatic realtions with 181 Nations. There was a strong expectation that with the increasing religious persecution and violence in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, China and spreading throughout the world, that the Holy Father would continue his impassioned call for religious freedom to be recognized as a fundamental human right by every Nation. That is precisely what he did.

We have extensively covered the growing global hostility toward Catholics and other Christians. It is one of our highest editorial priorities. We must pray for and stand with those who suffer for the Lord; whether it is the evil of the violence we have witnessed in Baghdad, Mumbia, or Alexandria which resulted in the martyrdom of blood or the growing "Christianophobia" in the West, including the United States of America. 

The Holy See released the full text of this profound, pastoral and prophetic address. We offer our readers the portions below. We invite our readers to continue to pray for the Pope, that he would have all of the grace he needs to courageously exercise his apostolic office. We ask you to pray for our persecuted brethren throughout the world. Finally, to pray for true and authentic peace which, as the Pope made clear, requires the recognition of a fundamental human right to religious freedom. Finally we ask our readers to study the manner in which the Pope articulates the truth concerning religious freedom as the model for our own defense of that freedom in the public square:

*******
On the State of the World : Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you, the distinguished representatives of so many countries, to this meeting which each year assembles you around the Successor of Peter. It is a deeply significant meeting, since it is a sign and illustration of the place of the Church and of the Holy See in the international community. ... As a new year begins, our own hearts and the entire world continue to echo the joyful message proclaimed twenty centuries ago in the night of Bethlehem, a night which symbolizes humanity's deep need for light, love and peace. ...

In longing for these gifts, each person is seeking his Creator, for "God alone responds to the yearning present in the heart of every man and woman" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 23). Humanity throughout history, in its beliefs and rituals, demonstrates a constant search for God and "these forms of religious expression are so universal that one may well call man a religious being" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28). The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man's being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs. Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal.

This primary and basic truth is the reason why, in this year's Message for World Day of Peace, I identified religious freedom as the fundamental path to peace. Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others. Ladies and Gentlemen, your presence on this solemn occasion is an invitation to survey the countries which you represent and the entire world. In this panorama do we not find numerous situations in which, sadly, the right to religious freedom is violated or denied? It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator. ...

Looking to the East, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members. In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it?

In the Middle East, Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties toward their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media" (Message to the People of God of the Special Asembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10). I appreciate the concern for the rights of the most vulnerable and the political farsightedness which some countries in Europe have demonstrated in recent days by their call for a concerted response on the part of the European Union for the defence of Christians in the Middle East.

Finally, I would like to state once again that the right to religious freedom is not fully respected when only freedom of worship is guaranteed, and that with restrictions. Furthermore, I encourage the accompaniment of the full safeguarding of religious freedom and other humans rights by programmes which, beginning in primary school and within the context of religious instruction, will educate everyone to respect their brothers and sisters in humanity. Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.

Among the norms prejudicing the right of persons to religious freedom, particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan: I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities. The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction: the worship of God furthers fraternity and love, not hatred and division.

Other troubling situations, at times accompanied by acts of violence, can be mentioned in south and south-east Asia, in countries which for that matter have a tradition of peaceful social relations. The particular influence of a given religion in a nation ought never to mean that citizens of another religion can be subject to discrimination in social life or, even worse, that violence against them can be tolerated. In this regard, it is important for interreligious dialogue to favour a common commitment to recognizing and promoting the religious freedom of each person and community. And, as I remarked earlier, violence against Christians does not spare Africa. Attacks on places of worship in Nigeria during the very celebrations marking the birth of Christ are another sad proof of this.

In a number of countries, on the other hand, a constitutionally recognized right to religious freedom exists, yet the life of religious communities is in fact made difficult and at times even dangerous (cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 15) because the legal or social order is inspired by philosophical and political systems which call for strict control, if not a monopoly, of the state over society. Such inconsistencies must end, so that believers will not find themselves torn between fidelity to God and loyalty to their country. I ask in particular that Catholic communities be everywhere guaranteed full autonomy of organization and the freedom to carry out their mission, in conformity with international norms and standards in this sphere.

My thoughts turn once again to the Catholic community of mainland China and its pastors, who are experiencing a time of difficulty and trial. I would also like to offer a word of encouragement to the authorities of Cuba, a country which in 2010 celebrated seventy-five years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations with the Holy See, that the dialogue happily begun with the Church may be reinforced and expanded. Turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society. Christians are even required at times to act in the exercise of their profession with no reference to their religious and moral convictions, and even in opposition to them, as for example where laws are enforced limiting the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care or legal professionals.

In this context, one can only be gratified by the adoption by the Council of Europe last October of a resolution protecting the right to conscientious objection on the part of medical personnel vis--vis certain acts which gravely violate the right to life, such as abortion. Another sign of the marginalization of religion, and of Christianity in particular, is the banning of religious feasts and symbols from civic life under the guise of respect for the members of other religions or those who are not believers. By acting in this way, not only is the right of believers to the public expression of their faith restricted, but an attack is made on the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations.

Last year, a number of European countries supported the appeal lodged by the Italian government in the well-known case involving the display of the crucifix in public places. I am grateful to the authorities of those nations, as well as to all those who became involved in the issue, episcopates, civil and religious organizations and associations, particularly the Patriarchate of Moscow and the other representatives of the Orthodox hierarchy, as well as to all those - believers and non-believers alike - who wished to show their sympathy for this symbol, which bespeaks universal values.

...I cannot remain silent about another attack on the religious freedom of families in certain European countries which mandate obligatory participation in courses of sexual or civic education which allegedly convey a neutral conception of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason. Ladies and Gentlemen, on this solemn occasion, allow me to state clearly several principles which inspire the Holy See, together with the whole Catholic Church, in its activity within the intergovernmental International Organizations for the promotion of full respect for the religious freedom of all. First, the conviction that one cannot create a sort of scale of degrees of religious intolerance.

Unfortunately, such an attitude is frequently found, and it is precisely acts of discrimination against Christians which are considered less grave and less worthy of attention on the part of governments and public opinion. At the same time, there is a need to reject the dangerous notion of a conflict between the right to religious freedom and other human rights, thus disregarding or denying the central role of respect for religious freedom in the defence and protection of fundamental human dignity.

Even less justifiable are attempts to counter the right of religious freedom with other alleged new rights which, while actively promoted by certain sectors of society and inserted in national legislation or in international directives, are nonetheless merely the expression of selfish desires lacking a foundation in authentic human nature. Finally, it seems unnecessary to point out that an abstract proclamation of religious freedom is insufficient: this fundamental rule of social life must find application and respect at every level and in all areas; otherwise, despite correct affirmations of principle, there is a risk that deep injustice will be done to citizens wishing to profess and freely practise their faith...

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Europe

LOST ART TREASURE? Male nude atop panther may be lost work of Michelangelo Watch

Image of Further research indicated the sculptures were in Michelangelo's style. Furthermore, X-rays roughly confirmed the era of their creation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two sculptures of a nude man riding a panther may very well be the creation of Renaissance maestro Michelangelo, a British museum says. According to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the bronze sculptures, known as the Rothschild Bronzes and dating from the ... continue reading


Legendary Azzam, world's largest and most expensive yacht, spotted off coast of Spain Watch

Image of The mysterious and elusive Azzam, the world's largest and most expensive

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The mysterious and elusive Azzam, the world's largest and most expensive "super yacht" was spotted docked in Spain. At 590 feet in length, Assam surpasses the previous record holder, the Eclipse, by 59 feet. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Azzam was also ... continue reading


Playtime is over: Germany, European banks get tough with Greece Watch

Image of Greece would soon find itself back in an acute financial crisis without the support of international lenders.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Greece\'s newly elected leftist government, led by Alexis Tsipras promises that the five years of austerity that the nation lived under during the European economic crisis, one of "humiliation and suffering," are over. Not so fast, major figureheads in Europe ... continue reading


GRAPHIC VIDEO on website warns away French nationals against joining Islamist State Watch

Image of Indonesia, along with France, is launching campaigns to counter recruitment among young people from Islamic State.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The French government, in the weeks following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, has released a website and video aimed at countering extremism. The video specifically targets young French Muslims who may be seduced into joining jihadist terror group Islamic ... continue reading


RUMORS OF WARS: Under-reported conflicts in world leave little hope of change Watch

Image of Fighting in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo displaced some 770,000 people in 2014.

By Alex Whiting, Thomson Reuters Foundation

While wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine make headlines in the West, around 30 other conflicts receive little press coverage, and the resulting lack of pressure for change could have serious implications for millions of people, experts say. LONDON (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


Was fearsome Blackbeard the Pirate - an old softie? New evidence suggests so Watch

Image of Blackbeard the Pirate was played by Ian McShane in

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blackbeard the Pirate was legendary for his ruthlessness and terrorizing shipping lanes in the West Atlantic. However - there appears to have been a kinder, gentler side to his personality as well. Wreckage culled from the Queen Anne's Revenge suggests that ... continue reading


Astonishing skull find reveals new information on interbreeding between Neanderthals and the modern man Watch

Image of The relative rarity of human fossils from this period means these ancestors of all present-day non-African modern populations have remained largely enigmatic.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A skull in an Israeli cave recently is one of the earliest known evidence of primitive Europeans yet found. The archaeological find is shedding light on the migration of modern humans out of Africa. The find suggests humans and Neanderthals were interbreeding ... continue reading


Forced into prostitution: Greece's economic crisis has married women, mothers hitting streets Watch

Image of The situation of Grecian streets is worsening, as many of the Greek women now turning to prostitution don't bear even a passing resemblance to the drug-addled stereotype of the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Greece, at the heart of the European economic crisis of a few years past, has elected the "anti-austerity" organization the Syriza Party into office. Mass unemployment remains, with more than 50 percent on the nation's young people without work. An even seedier ... continue reading


The first tax revolt: 800 years later, the Magna Carta stands boldly as spiritual predecessor to the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution Watch

Image of A copy of the Magna Carta on display.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This year will mark the eighth centennial of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede near Windsor, on June 15, 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Magna Carta was one of the first documents that limited the power of the English crown, and ... continue reading


VIDEO: 70 years later, drone flies over infamous death camps showing the shocking and HORRIBLE extent of Nazi death camps Watch

Image of The gates of the Auschwitz death camp, which in English say

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In 2015, more than 1,500 survivors of the Holocaust returned to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp's liberation by Soviet troops. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On January 27, event organizers are ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 20:10-13
10 I heard so many disparaging me, 'Terror on every ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 18:2-3, 3-4, 5-6, 7
2 Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:31-42
31 The Jews fetched stones to stone him,32 ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 27th, 2015 Image

St. Rupert
March 27: Bishop and missionary, also listed as Robert of Hrodbert. A ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter