Vatican Celebrates 76 Years Since Lateran Pacts

Vatican Journal Analyzes Diplomatic Evolution

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Church-state relations are fruitful when they are guided by "secularity" and not by "secularism," said L'Osservatore Romano.



The Italian edition of the Vatican newspaper published an unsigned analysis of the evolution of relations between politics and religion since the signing of the Lateran Pacts, 76 years ago today, which gave origin to the establishment of Vatican City State.

The dialogue that arose between the Italian state and the Catholic Church, truncated by the "Roman question" of 1870 -- triggered by the annexation of the papal territories -- "not only does not put in discussion the value of secularity, but rather articulates it in the national and European ambit," opines the Vatican newspaper.

Secularity correctly understood "is not the state's indifference, but the safeguarding of the freedom of religion, in a regime of confessional and cultural pluralism," the newspaper continues, quoting verbatim a sentence of the Italian Constitutional Court.

Secularity, "is not equivalent to the state's neutrality, which, on the contrary, in respect of the freedom of all, is also called to promote the religious values present in society which enrich and foster the good and coexistence of citizens," explains L'Osservatore.

"Thanks to this open, transparent, and regular dialogue between the civil and ecclesial community, religious freedom and the freedom of the Church are recognized and promoted. The latter, for its part, can offer in this way a precious contribution to society," says the article.

"Neither should there be fear that religious freedom, once granted to the Catholic Church, would intrude upon the realm of political freedom and the competencies proper to the sate: the Church is able carefully to distinguish, as she must, what belongs to Caesar from what belongs to God (see Matthew 22:21)," it continues.

"She actively cooperates in promoting the common good of society, inasmuch as she repudiates falsehood and educates to truth, she condemns hatred and contempt, and she calls for the spirit of brotherhood; always and everywhere she encourages -- as history clearly shows -- works of charity, science, and the arts," it added.

"She asks only for freedom, so that she can effectively cooperate with all public and private institutions concerned with the good of mankind," it says, quoting John Paul II's recent address to the diplomatic corps (see Zenit, January 10, 2005).

Since the Lateran Pacts, signed Feb. 11, 1929, the Holy See has established full diplomatic relations with 174 countries.