Full Religious Freedom Hard to Find, Says Vatican Official

Conclusion of Archbishop Lajolo, Secretary for Relations With States

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ROME, DEC. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo says that for the Holy See, no country in the world complies fully with religious freedom.

The Vatican secretary for relations with states came to this conclusion when addressing a conference on religious freedom, held Friday at the Gregorian University, at the initiative of the U.S. Embassy.

«Is there a state in which the Church can say that religious freedom is so fully realized that she, with the freedom which is distinctively hers — the ‘libertas Ecclesiae’ — finds herself perfectly at ease?» the prelate asked.

«If the answer is to be exact or precise, it should be negative. Even in states in which the right to religious freedom is taken very seriously and in which the Church can say that she is reasonably satisfied, there is always something which does not adequately respond to her needs,» he said.

«In one country, for example, the specific nature of some of its fundamental institutions is not recognized,» the archbishop said. «In another, there is no due recognition of canonical marriage; in another, the educational system does not sufficiently respect the right of parents and even less of the Church.

«In yet another, the economic system does not take into account the properly social ends of the institutions of the Church. In these countries, notwithstanding this or that particular limitation, the Church nevertheless can say that it enjoys almost always sufficient freedom, equal to that of other religious confessions.»

«And it knows how to accept certain limitations, fully cognizant of its ‘pilgrim’ nature, ‘in statu viae’ as a companion with and sympathetic toward each ‘homo viator’ who seeks, consciously or not, the face of God,» the prelate said.

However, the «‘libertas Ecclesiae,’ its intrinsic freedom, is in each case stronger than any possible limitation that can be imposed upon it, because it derives from the mandate of Christ and has the deep and vast breath of the Spirit,» Archbishop Lajolo concluded. «It is the freedom of that love which dwells in it — ever ancient and ever new — for the human person, who is the living image of God.»

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