Religious Education Urged as Way to Overcome Fanaticism

Key Factor to Foster Tolerance,» Vatican Aide Tells U.N. Conferees

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2001 ( Children should be educated in their faith and taught to respect the beliefs of others, the Vatican urged at a U.N. conference in Madrid, Spain.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican representative at the U.N. in Geneva, addressed the conference on «School Education in Relation to Freedom of Religion or Belief, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination.» The conference ran Nov. 23-25.

«Religious education is a powerful instrument to help believers intensify their efforts toward the realization of the unity of the one human family,» Archbishop Martin told his audience.

Moreover, religion is «a key factor in fostering understanding and tolerance among religious communities,» he said.

«Religious freedom constitutes a fundamental human right and can certainly be considered one of the cornerstones of the edifice of human rights, because it touches such an intimate sphere of human existence and personal identity, the relationship between the person and the transcendent,» Archbishop Martin emphasized.

This freedom also includes «the right of religious groups not to be prevented from freely demonstrating the special value of their teachings for the organization of society and the inspiration of human activity in general,» the Vatican representative added.

«Honestly addressing the tensions of the past, generates a strong force for the construction of a different future and for the beginnings of a process of reconciliation and healing,» he continued.

He added that the «formation of future teachers should pay special attention to their ability to sensitively address divisive historical issues. Where necessary, school textbooks and curricula should be revised to remove harmful or unbalanced presentations of other religious traditions and historical events.»

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