01/13/2011, 00.00
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True religious freedom is necessary in Asia

by Ainslie Joseph
The coordinator of the Alliance for Christian social action in Sri Lanka: "The challenge for religious leaders is to teach their followers to study other religions, to see the good in all the religions.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - We publish a commentary by the Coordinator of the Alliance for Christian social action in Sri Lanka, Joseph Ainslie, on the address Benedict XVI delivered Jan. 10 to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.

I notice it is significant that the Pope's address to diplomats on 10th January and his remarks about the attack on Christians in several countries has come within a few days of his Peace Message (16/12/2010 Religious freedom is the path to peace, Pope says), where he called religious freedom as the fundamental path for building of peace. He also says that Asia is the continent on which religious freedom is most violated. We know that Asia gave the world its leading religions: so it is unfortunate that such a situation must prevail in Asia. That is only by the way.

Two things come to my mind about the Holy Father's words. One is: why Christians are the most targeted? This needs to be studied further, not only by the Catholic Church but by all Christian denominations.

Secondly: true, religious freedom is necessary. We must talk about it. At the same time, we must talk about inter-religious harmony and inter-religious dialogue which are also important. Anyone who follows any religion must have respect for another's religion. This means that no religion can claim to be the only right one. People of all faiths must be taught by their religious leaders to see the good in all the religions.

All religious teachings have important elements that can benefit mankind as a whole. There are valuable lessons in all of them which people everywhere can admire, appreciate and even follow.

Then, and only then, will religion become a unifying force that can bind human beings together and bring peace to the whole world. Otherwise, we will only have people who love their own religious beliefs but hate the others.

The challenge for religious leaders, therefore, is to teach their followers to study other religions, respect them and benefit from the good things found in them.


(Melani Manel Perera collaborated)

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