The Best of Pope Francis on Religious Freedom

This week we celebrate the 2015 Fortnight for Freedom. As we examine the international challenges to religious liberty, we are encouraged by our shepherd, Bishop Loverde, to “use this period of time for prayer, study, and advocacy,”  so that we are, “ equipped with the spiritual and practical resources needed to bear witness to the fullness of  faith in our culture.”

By: Office of Communications

Pope Francis has used countless platforms to call upon “the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.” We cannot let this call fall upon deaf ears, but instead use our voice to pray and advocate for the international community.

On June 20, 2014 the Holy Father addressed the participants of a two-day conference: “International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values.” The Holy Father remarked that “every human being is a “seeker” of the truth,” and on the necessity of religious freedom, in order that these truths be fully manifested.

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Reason recognizes in religious freedom a fundamental human right which reflects the highest human dignity, the ability to seek the truth and conform to it, and recognizes in it a condition which is indispensable to the ability to deploy all of one’s own potentiality.

Pope Francis waving for the people after the mass in Bethlehem.

Religious freedom is not only that of private thought or worship. It is the liberty to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principals resulting from found truth. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought — which is like a disease — also lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance, it ends in persecuting those who defend the truth about man and its ethical consequences.

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Legal systems, therefore, whether state or international, are called upon to recognize, guarantee and protect religious freedom, which is an intrinsic right inherent to human nature, to the dignity of being free, and is also a sign of a healthy democracy and one of the principal sources of the legitimacy of the State.

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It causes me great pain to know that Christians in the world submit to the greatest amount of such discrimination. Persecution against Christians today is actually worse than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs today than in that era.

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Religious freedom, acknowledged in constitutions and laws and expressed in consistent conduct, promotes the development of relationships of mutual respect among the diverse Confessions and their healthy collaboration with the State and political society, without confusion of roles and without antagonism.

To read the full text of Pope Francis’ Address, click here.

To learn more about the 2015 Fortnight for Freedom, including information on prayer, study and advocacy in the Diocese of Arlington and abroad, click here.

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