Religion Not a Threat to Coexistence but a Value, U.N. Is Told

Holy See Official Addresses Committee

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NEW YORK, OCT. 27, 2004 ( Religion is not a threat to peaceful coexistence but is instead a positive value, the Holy See explained at the United Nations.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, expressed the Vatican’s position Tuesday when addressing a committee on the topic «Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance.»

Religious beliefs are freedom and «should be considered as a positive value and not be manipulated or seen as a threat to peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance,» the archbishop said.

«Religious leaders have a special responsibility in dispelling any misuse or misrepresentation of religious beliefs and freedom,» he said.

«They have in their hands a powerful and enduring resource in the fight against terrorism; and they are called to create and spread a sensitivity which is religious, cultural and social, and which will never turn to acts of terror but will reject and condemn such acts as a profanation,» the prelate continued.

«Similarly, public authorities, legislators, judges and administrators carry a grave and evident responsibility to favor peaceful coexistence between religious groups and to avail themselves of their collaboration in the construction of society,» the Holy See’s observer said.

«The attitude of those who would like to confine religious expression to the merely private sphere, ignores and denies the nature of authentic religious convictions,» Archbishop Migliore added.

In particular, the Vatican’s representative appealed to believers to «maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions.»

He also urged them «to work in the social, educational and humanitarian field, and to be at the same time religiously distinct, to act in harmony with their respective mission, and without having to disregard any religious commitments or moral values in providing a social good. Attempts to secularize or to interfere in the internal affairs of religious institutions would undermine their raison d’être as well as the very fabric of society.»

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