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Religious Freedom is major concern at the Vatican

2010-05-22

The countries are: Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistán, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.

The Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is very much aware of this list and is working to promote religious freedom in these countries and others by engaging in action-oriented studies, social teachings and dialogue.

Msgr. Anthony Frontiero of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says he believes freedom of religion is the second most important right, after the right to life, and that it is a fundamental human right.

Msgr. Anthony Frontiero
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
“We share the concern of every nation where religious freedom is deprived, institutionally or even just because of certain factions. It’s very well known that we are concerned about problems with Christians in the Holy Land right now. The Christians there are being persecuted and many of them are leaving just to be able to live in safety.”

Several religious men and women worldwide face suppression and violence because of their beliefs. The Church has seen an increase in restrictions on people practicing their faith in public.

Msgr. Frontiero says even developed countries such as the United States face this issue.

Msgr. Anthony Frontiero
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

“We’re seeing now this new surge of an attitude that says well we believe in freedom from religion where religion is being marginalized. We’re being told you can believe in anything as long as you keep it to yourself. Where the voice of religion in the public square is being pushed aside.”

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace works towards human rights with others such as the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

While international organizations play a big role in securing rights, Msgr. Frontiero says Catholics can also help by promoting religious freedom daily.

Msgr. Anthony Frontiero
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

“If we but have the courage to step out of this notion that our faith is just so private, that it has nothing to say to the quote unquote real world, if we can step out of that mentality and as our Lord said put out into the deep and recognize that our witness in Christ and our belief in Him is meant for all.”

While religious freedom enables the Church to evangelize, Msgr. Frontiero says no matter the faith, religious freedom can help all of us.

Msgr. Anthony Frontiero
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

“When religions are rescued from ideological distortions and are allowed and enabled to articulate and embrace the authentic values, the spiritual values and human values of these traditions and beliefs, then the world is a better place.”

He also says religion offers a spiritual unity and solidarity that helps us understand one another and compels us to work for justice and the common good.

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