Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/11/2011 (3 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 (3 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 August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Europe

Archaeologists find a very different type of 'treasure' - a 2,000-year-old toilet seat Watch

Image of Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Accustomed to finding priceless coins, artwork and historical artifacts, archaeologists in Great Britain have found an altogether different type of treasure - one that was desperately needed in ancient times - a wooden toilet seat, believed to be 2,000 years ... continue reading


Over 1,400 girls raped and abused by Muslims in English town Watch

Image of For more than 12 years a large community of Pakistanis living in England have enjoyed sexually abusing girls while officials turned a blind eye a new report reveals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over a 12 year period, hundreds of children were systematically raped, beaten and sex trafficked in a northern English town, and the government commissioned report on the incident reveals that it is still going on today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Guilty? Corruption case moves forward against the head of International Monetary Fund Watch

Image of Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, who is facing charges currently in France.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and one of the most powerful women in the world, has been charged with "negligence" over a multi-million-euro graft case relating to her time as a French finance minister. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Scandalous details come to light over defrocked nuncio's abuse of young boys Watch

Image of Shoeshine boys int he Dominican Republic say that Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski would cruise the oceanfront promenade and offer them large sums of money for sexual acts.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Loathsome details have come to light over defrocked Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Shoeshine boys say that Wesolowski would cruise the oceanfront promenade and offer them large sums of money for sexual ... continue reading


Archbishop appeals his defrocking for sexual abuse allegedly committed in Dominican Republic Watch

Image of If found guilty in a criminal trial, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski could risk extradition to the Dominican Republic, which has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, from Poland, is accused of child sex abuse while he served in the Dominican Republic. He has since appealed against a Roman Catholic tribunal's decision to defrock him, according to the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


SHOCKING: Are there more British Muslims fighting for the Islamic State than for British military? Watch

Image of Many young men facing poor job prospects in the U.K. find the IS narrative of defending Islam hard to resist.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a shocking figure that has many questioning immigration laws. Britain's Ministry of Defense has confirmed that there are approximately 600 British Muslim service members in its armed forces of almost 200,000 people. In a momentous slap to the West - and ... continue reading


British Archbishop demands Muslim leaders enforce discipline on youth or face the consequences Watch

Image of George Carey, a former Archbishop recently spoke on the dangers of the Islamic State, as well as the British Muslims who go overseas to fight for it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A former Archbishop of Canterbury has called for Britons that are fighting for the Islamic State to be banished from Britain. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lord George Carey of Clifton said that Muslims must  discipline their young people, or see them ... continue reading


Pontifical Council Statement on the Violence in Iraq Watch

Image of Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis:

By Vatican Radio

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) - The Pontifical Council for Interreligious ... continue reading


British rapper makes 14-year-old girl post sex video online Watch

Image of The girl, who can't be named for legal reasons, accepted a friend request from rapper Logik, whose real name is Kyle Burns.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a sick incident that highlights what's going on around the eyes and ears of semi-attentive parents. A British rapper who goes under the stage name of "Logik" asked a 14-year-old girl to pose an indecent 60-second video of herself to which he promised ... continue reading


A new tomb may be the burial place of Alexander the Great Watch

Image of This road leads up to a newly discovered tomb which could hold the remains of one of Alexander the Great's generals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered an immense tomb that they believe may be connected with Alexander the Great, whose conquests stretched from Greece to India. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This tomb, which dates to around 300 BC, may have held the body ... 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, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... 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