Pontiff Urges Norway to Promote Religious Freedom

Lauds Nation’s International Peacemaking Efforts

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming the ethical values with which Norway acts in the international scene, and is encouraging the same principled policies in promoting religious freedom within the nation.

The Pope stated this Friday in a written address he gave to Norway’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Rolf Trolle Andersen. The Holy Father that day received in audience and addressed eight new ambassadors, giving each a written statement afterward. The envoys present represented Mongolia, India, Benin, New Zealand, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Norway.

The Pontiff noted Norway’s “distinguished record in coming to the aid of others less fortunate than itself.”

“In the wake of the financial turmoil of recent months,” he affirmed, the country “was swift in offering expert assistance to other countries to help them weather the storm, despite suffering its own share of economic difficulties in consequence of the crisis.”

Benedict XVI noted the nation’s “generous and welcoming” nature in opening the doors to “significant numbers of refugees and immigrants.”

This influx, he observed, has introduced “greater cultural and ethnic variety,” which has “stimulated deeper reflection on the presuppositions and values that govern life in Norway today and its place in the modern world.”

The Pope acknowledged the country’s “commitment to peace-keeping” based in a culture “strongly shaped by its thousand-year Christian history.”

He continued: “The Holy See very much appreciates your country’s contribution to conflict resolution in some of the world’s most troubled areas.

From Sri Lanka to Afghanistan, from Sudan to Somalia, from Chad to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Norway has played its part, whether it be in peace negotiations, in calling upon the parties to observe international law, in humanitarian assistance, in helping with reconstruction and peace-keeping, or in promoting democracy and providing expert advice on building up the social infrastructure.

“Having just returned from my apostolic visit to the Holy Land, I am particularly conscious of the crucial work that your country has done in brokering peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

The Pontiff expressed hope that the “spirit of reconciliation and the search for justice which gave rise to the Oslo Accords will eventually prevail and bring lasting peace to the peoples of that tormented region.”

Shared perspective

“Your country,” he affirmed, “is motivated by the fundamental ethical values” that are “rooted in Norway’s Christian culture, and which, therefore, are central to the perspectives and the goals which it shares with the Holy See.”

The Holy Father expressed the desire to work together “with a view to promoting the ethical vision that we share for the sake of building a more humane and just world.”

He highlighted the “valuable contribution” that the Catholic community in Norway has to offer.

Benedict XVI affirmed: “Like many European countries today, Norway is increasingly called upon to examine the implications of the right to religious freedom in the context of a liberal and pluralist society.

“I am confident that the high ethical principles and the generosity so characteristic of Norway’s activity on the international scene will also prevail at home, so that all the citizens of your country will be free to practice their religion, and all the different religious communities will be free to order their affairs in accordance with their beliefs and juridical systems, in this way making their particular contribution to the common good.”

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-26076?l=english

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