Pope addresses freedom of religion
The Pope met has met with participants in the parlimentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the conclusion of their two-day Conference on Freedom of Religion in Rome which began on October 9.
After expressing gratitude for the OSCE's "commitment to ensure ... this basic human right," freedom of religion, the Holy Father emphasized that "it is important that, while respecting a healthy sense of the State's secular nature, the positive role of believers in public life should be recognized."
"This corresponds, among other things, to the demands of a healthy pluralism and contributes to the building up of authentic democracy, to which the OSCE is truly committed."
"When States are disciplined and balanced in the expression of their secular nature, dialogue between the different social sectors is fostered and, consequently, transparent and frequent cooperation between civil and religious society is promoted, which benefits the common good."
John Paul II said that "just as damage is done to society when religion is relegated to the private sphere, so too are society and civil institutions impoverished when legislation - in violation of religious freedom - promotes religious indifference, relativism and religious syncretism, perhaps even justifying them by means of a mistaken understanding of tolerance."
"On the contrary, benefit accrues to all citizens when there is appreciation of the religious traditions in which every people is rooted and with which populations generally identify themselves in a particular way. The promotion of religious freedom can also take place through provisions made for the different juridical disciplines of the various religions, provided that the identity and freedom of each religion is guaranteed."
The Pope concluded by emphasizing that "the respect of every expression of religious freedom is therefore seen to be a most effective means for guaranteeing security and stability within the family of Peoples and Nations in the twenty-first century."