Religious freedom is not only that about “private beliefs or worship,” but " is the freedom to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principles that derive from religious principles". With the arrival of "new human rights", fundamental rights such as the right to life are denied, "especially in public".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Vatican Secretary of State Card Pietro Parolin yesterday spoke to a symposium titled ‘Stand Together to Defend International Religious Freedom organised by the US Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.
During his address, he warned that in the name of tolerance "we end up persecuting those who defend their faith" and in asserting "new human rights", fundamental rights such as religious freedom and the right to life are denied, "especially in public", in relation to “the institution of marriage or the inviolable right to all human life.”
The right to freedom of religion, he notes, is violated by the intolerance of those who "view as inferior or second class all religions other than their own".
For the prelate, religious freedom "is not only the right to private beliefs or worship" but "is the freedom to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principles that derive from religious principles".
This "is a great challenge in the globalised world, where weak convictions also lower the general level of ethics, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance, we end up persecuting those who defend their faith".
Of course, "religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences demand". But "our different religious traditions serve society above all through the message they proclaim" and "remind us of the transcendent dimension of human existence and our irreducible freedom in the face of any claim to absolute power".
The topic of the second panel was even more sensitive, because for Cardinal Parolin, "international cooperation means not only ‘to be together’ but ‘to work together’ at all levels to defend and further religious freedom".
For the secretary of state, "if there were no serious and dedicated attempt to work together to face and overcome the root causes" of religious persecution, "raising awareness of the brutal reality" of this problem in the world "would be useless".
Religious freedom violations are "an aggressive attack that affects the very core of the exercise of fundamental human rights", which are necessary for the development of the human person and society, "and for peaceful coexistence among nations".
Unfortunately, despite many efforts, violations continue, "often with impunity and sometimes with little, if any, media attention."
Through “the quick means now available with digital media, those who work in the media and social communications sector must bring to light" the threats to the common good of the human family, like the "serious violations of religious freedom".
Ultimately, religious freedom, notes Cardinal Parolin, is not "something granted externally" to the person, even by the State," but rather is “a gift from God, indeed a gift rooted in the transcendent dimension of human nature."
Civil authorities "have the obligation to protect and defend religious freedom", not because they are "its source but because they are its custodian".