The Vatican and the Right to Religious Liberty

Source: FSSPX News


On January 10, 2008, Archbishop Dominic Mamberti, Holy See Secretary for Relations with foreign States gave a conference at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross on the theme: “Protection of the Right to Religious Liberty in the Present Action of the Holy See.”

“A sound secularization implies distinction between Church and State, between religion and politics, but without in any way making of God a purely private hypothesis neither excluding our exercise of public activity,” declared Archbishop Mamberti who recalled that the Holy See had neither “economical or political interests” nor “geostrategic ambitions,” but that it “asserted the protection of religious liberty everywhere and at all times, as a primordial right among all fundamental human rights.” Thus “religious liberty is a right which cannot be suppressed, it has a private, public and institutional dimension.” “For the Holy See, religious liberty is not only one of the fundamental human rights, but it is the pre-eminent right and its defense constitutes the test for the verification of respect for all other rights.” “Respect for the right of religious liberty is the base of respect for any other right, since when religious liberty is in danger, all other rights falter,” he emphasized.

The essential objective of the bilateral diplomacy of the Holy See, continued the Roman prelate is “to ensure stability and safety in the Church activities and (to enable) free activity for the faithful in the 176 countries with which the Vatican maintains diplomatic relations.” To this end, we must ensure the freedom of worship and of jurisdiction of the Catholic Church and “stabilize areas of cooperation with the State in the domains of health, education, and charities.” Thus the numerous interventions of the Holy See at UNO are explained for “the defense of religious liberty and tolerance” and against intolerance and discrimination against Christians and believers from other religions” to the extent of persecuting them.

“To promote these things concretely, we must combat Christianophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism,” Archbishop Mamberti stated. “Christianophobia is a whole set of behaviors which come from a lack of education, or bad information, from intolerance or persecution.” These problems which are “important on the human, political and social level must all be equally confronted.”

The Roman diplomat also evoked two attitudes of modern society: the abandon of religion which is dissociated from reason and confined to the “sentimental” realm -- and the separation of religion and public life. A desirable “balance” should guarantee religious liberty and freedom of expression. On the other hand, dialogue between religions “is possible only if we do not give up truth. And international initiatives must be set up with full awareness that religions always have specific and different characteristics. (Sources: Apic/Imedia/The Osservatore Romano)