Vatican Opposes Use of Religion for Political Ends

Archbishop Tauran Addresses European Foreign-Ministers

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BUCHAREST, Romania, DEC. 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican criticized the “too frequent” use of religion for political ends, while emphasizing that religious convictions offer an indispensable contribution to the creation of a culture of peace.

“At this time, in which too frequently religion is used for political ends or, worse still, to kill in the name of God, it is of utmost importance to state clearly that religious convictions, freely accepted and translated into personal and collective life, are a richness and an opportunity for every one and for the whole of society,” said Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican secretary for relations with states.

The archbishop addressed the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an institution composed of 55 states. The meeting was held in Bucharest on Monday and Tuesday.

Archbishop Tauran said, “Today more than ever, in the wake of Sept. 11, the international community needs to reflect on the way in which a culture of peace can be effectively promoted.”

“Violence, unresolved conflicts, fear of the other, the claiming of an identity that is often built on opposition to the other, and rejection of dialogue mean that today in some countries the claims of ethnic minorities, the fate of refugees, the role of law and of the values of democracy, are questions to be resolved,” he continued.

Therefore, there must be “unceasing cooperation to eliminate the factors that generate frustration among people, undermine international security and hinder the proper functioning of international institutions,” the Vatican aide said.

“There is no lack of juridical instruments to act successfully: What is often lacking is the political will to put them into practice,” the archbishop added.

In this context, the Vatican delegation asked the OSCE to strengthen “the economic and ecological dimension of the organization.”

The OSCE meeting concluded with a declaration of the member countries against terrorism.

Commenting on the document, the chairman-in-office, Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, said: “The OSCE is not the lead organization in the fight against terrorism, but we can address some of its root causes, the political, social and economic inequalities that provide a fertile breeding ground for exploitation by extremist ideologies.”

“Starting from the idea that no circumstance or cause can justify acts of terrorism, the Bucharest plan of action identifies and addresses various social, economic, political and other factors that engender conditions in which terrorist organizations are able to recruit and win support,” an OSCE statement explains.

In this context, the OSCE “will offer participating states assistance in implementing international anti-terrorist conventions and protocols, increase its activities to promote the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, and take action to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist activities, such as by training personnel of domestic financial institutions in counterterrorism areas.”

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