Religious Freedom Is Under Threat, Says Cardinal

Warns Against Secularism, Fundamentalism

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Peter Turkson is warning that religious freedom is currently under particular threat from secularism, fundamentalism and pluralism.



The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace affirmed this today in a press conference for the presentation of Benedict XVI's message for the 44th World Day of Peace, which will be celebrated Jan. 1.

The theme of this day is "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace."

The cardinal explained that the Pope chose this theme "because the living of religious freedom -- a basic vocation of man and a fundamental, inalienable and universal human right, and key to peace -- has come under great stress and threat."

He noted the threat of "raging secularism, which is intolerant of God and of any form of expression of religion" as well as "religious fundamentalism, the politicization of religion and the establishment of state religions."

The prelate pointed to another threat "from the growing cultural and religious pluralism that is being made ever more present and pressing in our day by globalization (which heightens interdependence and fashions new forms of relations) and the increased mobility of people (who run into new cultures and religions)."

"Thus, differences which should enrich human culture are increasingly being exploited, especially in the area of religion, to achieve the opposite effect of impoverishing human culture through intolerance, denial and negation of the right of religious freedom," he stated.

Safeguard

The cardinal affirmed that "the Holy Father, in his message, sees the safeguarding of religious freedom in our multicultural, multi-religious and secularized world as one of the ways to safeguard its peace."

He pointed out the "increasing instances of the denial of the universality" of human rights "in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks."

Cardinal Turkson made particular mention of "the Lautsi case here in Italy and the crucifix case in the European Court of Human Rights, the case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan, the case of Southern Sudan, Christians in the Middle East, doctors who are denied license because they will not terminate pregnancies, denial of aid-packages to developing countries who object to aid-conditions on religious-moral grounds, and so on."

It is in this context, he explained, that Benedict XVI wrote the message of peace, addressing "incidents of the denial of the universal right of religious freedom in the name of culture, religion, politics and state policies."

The prelate stated, "These denials obscure the truth about the human person, disregard people's dignity, badly compromise the respect for the other rights, and ultimately threaten the peace of the world."

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text of Cardinal Turkson's comments: www.zenit.org/article-31263?l=english

Full text of Pope's peace day message: www.zenit.org/article-31261?l=english