10/10/2009, 00.00
VATICAN - UN
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Archbishop Tomasi: religious freedom also in social commitment and media

The representative of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva says that "in matters of the right to believe the human person must not be separated from social relations." Speaking at the twelfth regular session of the Human Rights Council he calls for "the right balance between the importance of freedom of expression and the need to curb incitement to hate".
Geneva (AsiaNews) - Religious freedom is a crucial element for building common good. This is why religious groups should be free to express themselves in their commitment to society and even by using mass media. The international community must take on this "new perspective" to "face the old and new phenomenon" of religious discrimination.

Archbishop Tomasi said that "increasing manifestations of religious intolerance" require the "concerted solution" of the international community. The bishop stressed in particular the importance of an "integrated approach" that could "anchor the debate [on religious freedom] within the international legal structure” and at the same time movement “towards a comprehensive implementation of existing rules to protect freedom of religion and belief”.

For the Vatican representative, the UN Human Rights Council report of the on the phenomena of religious intolerance presented at the twelfth session provides useful input for new steps to be taken along a path that must increasingly recognize the link between the common good, freedom of religion and human rights. These are "the grammar of common good" which incorporates a "broader range of psychological, intellectual, emotional and spiritual well being."  

Tomasi notes that "in matters of faith, human rights must not be separated from the social relations" in which it is collocated. In this regards he quoted from the discourse pronounced by the Pope in April at the UN General Assembly. Then Benedict XVI had said that "religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order”. 

The "new perspective" suggested by Tomasi in Geneva can not ignore "growing pluralism in many societies" and "the interconnectedness of a globalized world." For this, the bishop emphasizes the important role played by "the media" and their "contribution to a greater awareness of the dignity and human rights."  

Recalling the "consensus created around the Durban Review Conference", the Vatican representative reiterated the need to find "the right balance between the importance of freedom of expression and the need for curbing incitement to hate."

The media "can be used to build the human community - says Tomasi - but also to damage the good of the whole person." Their "wise use" is assigned both to those responsible for social communications, as well as to the same religious confessions. Both are in fact exposed to "temptations". The media often ignore or marginalize religious practices, ideas, experiences and doctrines” and compel many to judge religion "according to secular standards”.  But religions are not immune from criticism either because they often use the media to "encourage a religious exclusivism fomenting hostility toward others."
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