Religious Freedom a Key to Peace, Says Holy See

“Tolerance” Leading to “Unbalanced Treatment,” Warns Prelate

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, DEC. 6, 2005 ( Religious freedom is essential for peaceful coexistence and respect among cultures, the Holy See told foreign ministers from member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“The Holy See considers its distinctive duty to insist on the continuing central importance of religious freedom for peaceful coexistence and for respect between different cultures in today’s multiethnic and multicultural societies,” said Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states.

The archbishop delivered that message to the OSCE’s plenary assembly, whose two-day meeting in Ljubljana ended today.

The prelate contended that, in the organization’s promotion of “tolerance,” “discrimination against Muslims and Christians has begun to receive a less unbalanced treatment in the work of the OSCE.”

The archbishop noted the Catholic Church’s commitment in this regard, 40 years after the Second Vatican Council’s promulgation of the declaration “Nostra Aetate.” That document, he said, opened “new perspectives in the relationship between Jews and Christians, inspired by dialogue and solidarity.”

“This important document speaks likewise with great esteem of Muslims and members of other religions,” the prelate indicated.

“On the basis of their common human dignity, the Catholic Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against people or any harassment of them on the basis of their race, color, condition in life or religion,” the Vatican official added.

The archbishop said that, in this same spirit, Benedict XVI declared on Aug. 15 in Cologne, Germany: “The Catholic Church is committed to tolerance, respect, friendship and peace among all peoples, cultures and religions.”

Archbishop Lajolo added: “This in no way means that she renounces her own identity or the freedom to express her convictions, indeed it supposes them and consolidates them.”

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