09/21/2007, 00.00
VATICAN
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Religious freedom is “irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable,” says Pope

Respect for religion, which includes the right to change one’s faith, counters the arguments of those terrorists who use it as a pretext to attack the West. For its part, the West must fight against terrorism without giving up the principles of the rule of law. When the family’s foundations are undermined, peace itself is threatened.

Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – The right to religious freedom, which includes the right to change one’s faith, is “irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable.” Respect for this right enables us to counter the arguments of those terrorists who use religion as a pretext to attack the Western world. Freedom of religion, protecting life and the family are some of the issues Benedict XVI considers fundamental for the development of the necessary political consciousness that can allow us to build a world based on the actual needs of justice.

In his address in Castel Gandolfo during au audience with the participants to a meeting sponsored by the Centrist Democratic International (CDI), Pope Benedict XVI focused on the notion that there are fundamental principles that are interrelated and that when human rights are violated, “the dignity of the human person suffers; when justice is compromised, peace itself is jeopardized.” In this context, the crisis of the family and the idea that abortion and euthanasia are “legitimate” are worrisome developments.

“Experience,” he said, “has shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence.”

In his view religious freedom “corresponds to the human person’s innate openness to God, who is the fullness of truth and the supreme good. An appreciation for religious freedom is a fundamental expression of respect for human reason and its capacity to know the truth. . . . God can never be excluded from the horizon of man and world history! That is why all authentically religious traditions must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it.”

For Benedict XVI, “respect for religion helps to counter the charge that society has forgotten God: an accusation shamelessly exploited by some terrorist networks in an attempt to justify their threats against global security. Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God’s name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life. Society naturally has a right to defend itself, but this right must be exercised with complete respect for moral and legal norms, including the choice of ends and means. In democratic systems, the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional State can never be justified. Indeed, how can we claim to protect democracy if we threaten its very foundations? Consequently, it is necessary both to keep careful watch over the security of civil society and its citizens while at the same time safeguarding the inalienable rights of all. Terrorism needs to be fought with determination and effectiveness, mindful that if the mystery of evil is widespread today, the solidarity of mankind in goodness is an even more pervasive mystery.”

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