Religious liberty and freedom of conscience must always be deepened and continue to grow, underscored Pope Francis, during the return flight from Rabat (Morocco) to Rome on March 31, 2019, in Muslim countries as in European countries, where the Pontiff was anxious about threats against Doctors’ conscientious objection.
In Morocco there is freedom of worship and religious liberty; there is freedom to belong to a religion,” he said to journalists. However, “freedom always develops, it grows.”
The Holy Father then gave the example of the evolution of Christians’ notions of freedom, quoting Gallic monk Vincent de Lerins: Ut annis consolidtur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate, namely, that growth must be consolidated in the course of years, enlarged in time, but it’s the same faith, sublimated by the years. So one understands, for example, that today we have removed from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the death penalty. 300 years ago heretics were burnt alive — because the Church has grown in morality, in respect of the person.”
“And freedom of worship also grows,” continued the Pontiff. ”Our Muslim brothers also grow in their conscience. In certain countries, they don’t understand it so or don’t grow as the others. However, in Morocco, there is this growth . . . They are more open, more respectful. They seek ways of proceeding with discretion . . . they are ways of progressing in freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.”
Pope Francis shared his concern about “our reversal” when it comes to “freedom of conscience.” “Think of Christian doctors and hospital institutions that don’t have the right of conscientious objection, for example, in regard to euthanasia. How! The Church has gone forward [on freedom of conscience] and you, Christian countries, go backward? . . . we run the danger that certain governments will remove freedom of conscience, which is the first step towards freedom of worship.”
So, “let’s not accuse the Muslims. Let us accuse ourselves also because of countries where that happens; one should be a bit ashamed.