10/27/2004, 00.00
Vatican - United Nations
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Vatican envoy warns UN against religious restrictions

New York (AsiaNews/CWN) - The Vatican's representative at the UN has told the international body that public restrictions on religious expression betray an attitude of ignorance toward the real nature of faith.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, speaking at a session on "elimination of all forms of religious intolerance," said that governments should recognize religious faith as a positive force, "not to be manipulated or seen as a threat" to domestic peace.

The archbishop said that the Holy See will continue to defend religious freedom, in the face of "new forms of religious intolerance" which have emerged in recent years. One such form of intolerance, he said, is shown in the effort to confine religious expressions to the private sphere. That approach, he said, empties religious faith of its true significance.

Archbishop Migliore observed that religious leaders have a responsibility to ensure that they guard against the misuse of religious belief, especially by those who promote violence and terror. He said that religious leaders should recognize that they have "in their hands a powerful and enduring resource in the fight against terrorism."

Secular authorities, on the other hand, should never seek to interfere in the internal affairs of religious institutions, nor to restrict their access to the public sphere, the Vatican envoy continued. Government officials should recognize that religious practice enriches society, and promotes the important work of service to those in need.
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