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1/10/11 Worldwide (AsiaNews) – Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria have been killed in churches,

in Pakistan a blasphemy law has become an “excuse to cause injustice and violence”, in China

they are experiencing a “moment of difficulty and trial,” in the West they are object of a

“growing marginalization” which evens demands the rejection of any “reference to religious

and moral convictions.” The list of violations and attacks on religious freedom delivered

today by Benedict XI to the representatives of 180 countries and international organizations

that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, touches hundreds of millions of people

around the world.

The meeting with the diplomats has become a traditional occasion for popes to cast their gaze

on the situation of the world and this year Benedict XI focused on the state of religious

freedom in an explicit link with his message for World Day of Peace in which it is defined as

“the fundamental path for the building of peace.”

The panorama expressed today by the Pope is one of many shadows, but also some light, such as

the news that Vietnam has agreed to the appointment of a papal representative, not a

permanent one it seems, but the move puts an end to nearly 60 years without any diplomatic

relations. Or the siding of some European countries in favour of the displaying of the

crucifix in public places, which also saw the quoted speech of the Moscow Patriarchate and,

in general, the Orthodox world, or, finally, the adoption a resolution by the Council of

Europe in October that protects the right of medical personnel to conscientious objection in

the face of certain acts that seriously affect the right to life, such as abortion.

The starting point in Benedict XVI’s speech, is that ” The religious dimension is an

undeniable and irrepressible feature of man’s being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment

of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs.  Consequently,

when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension,

imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal.

This primary and basic truth is the reason why, in this year’s Message for World Day of

Peace, I identified religious freedom as the fundamental path to peace.  Peace is built and

preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their

lives and in their relationships with others.

In view of this, “the conviction that one cannot create a sort of scale of degrees of

religious intolerance.  Unfortunately, such an attitude is frequently found, and it is

precisely acts of discrimination against Christians which are considered less grave and less

worthy of attention on the part of governments and public opinion.  At the same time, there

is a need to reject the dangerous notion of a conflict between the right to religious freedom

and other human rights, thus disregarding or denying the central role of respect for

religious freedom in the defence and protection of fundamental human dignity.  Even less

justifiable are attempts to counter the right of religious freedom with other alleged new

rights which, while actively promoted by certain sectors of society and inserted in national

legislation or in international directives, are nonetheless merely the expression of selfish

desires lacking a foundation in authentic human nature.  Finally, it seems unnecessary to

point out that an abstract proclamation of religious freedom is insufficient: this

fundamental rule of social life must find application and respect at every level and in all

areas; otherwise, despite correct affirmations of principle, there is a risk that deep

injustice will be done to citizens wishing to profess and freely practise their faith.”

The violations, many violations, bloody or not, all lead back to this. The list begins in the

East and confirms that the continent where religious freedom is most violated, is Asia.

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