Religion Can Aid Peace Amid Globalization, Says Holy See

Archbishop Migliore Addresses U.N. Panel on Human Rights

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NEW YORK, OCT. 30, 2006 ( The Holy See told a U.N. committee that religion is a vital force for peace and understanding among peoples in an age of globalization.

The Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, made that point when he addressed a committee of the General Assembly last Friday.

The committee was reflecting on the theme "Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Questions, including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms."

"In our diverse and ever-changing world," noted the papal representative, "religion is more than an internal matter of thought and conscience. It has the potential to bind us together as equal and valuable members of the human family."

According to Archbishop Migliore, "We cannot overlook the role that religion plays in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick and visiting the imprisoned.

"Nor should we underestimate its power, especially in the midst of conflict and division, to turn our minds to thoughts of peace, to enable enemies to speak to one another, to foster those who were estranged to join hands in friendship, and have nations seek the way to peace together."

The prelate contended: "Religion is a vital force for good, for harmony and for peace among all peoples, especially in troubled times."

Limited freedom

During his intervention, the prelate noted the 25th-anniversary celebrations of the adoption of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

In this context, he noted: "My delegation is seriously concerned that freedom of religion or belief does not exist for individuals and communities, especially among religious minorities, in many parts of the world.

"We are also concerned that the high level of religious intolerance in some countries is leading to an alarming degree of polarization and discrimination. We share a grave duty to work together to reverse this trend."

"Likewise," the Holy See representative said, "it would be intolerant to denigrate religious communities and exclude them from public debate and cooperation just because they do not agree with options nor conform to practices that are contrary to human dignity."