Paven til det diplomatiske korps: Beskytt religionsfriheten!

 Religion representerer ingen trussel for samfunnet; ei heller er den en kilde til splid og konflikt

Pave Benedikt holdt den 10. januar sin årlige tale til det diplomatiske korps, representert ved de 178 nasjonene som har fulle diplomatiske relasjoner med Den hellige stol. I tråd med sitt budskap til Verdens Fredsdag den 1. januar, fokuserte Benedikt på religionsfrihetens kår i verden. I en svært åpenhjertig tale oppfordret han verdensledere til å garantere for kristen trosutøvelse uten forfølgelse og diskriminering. Benedikt viste blant annet til de nylige angrepene i Egypt, Irak og Nigeria, og ba de respektive myndigheter - både i praksis og ved lovgivende tiltak - om beskyttelse av religiøse minoriteter.

Paven begynte med å minnes julehøytidens gledesfulle budskap til alle mennesker, og hvordan den menneskelige famile til alle tider har søkt og lengtet etter Gud:

The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man's being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs. Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal.

Benedikt fremhevet hvordan fred kun kan oppnås når mennesket fritt kan søke og tjene Gud:

Ladies and Gentlemen, your presence on this solemn occasion is an invitation to survey the countries which you represent and the entire world. In this panorama do we not find numerous situations in which, sadly, the right to religious freedom is violated or denied? It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator. Yet is this fundamental human right not all too often called into question or violated? It seems to me that society, its leaders and public opinion are becoming more and more aware, even if not always in a clear way, of this grave attack on the dignity and freedom of homo religiosus, which I have sought on numerous occasions to draw to the attention of all.

Den hellige far rettet søkelyset blant annet mot Irak og Egypt, og presiserte at kristne i Midtøsten - som opprinnelige og fullstendige borgere - må nyte godt av tros- og tankefrihet:

Looking to the East, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members. In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it? In the Middle East, Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties toward their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media" (Message to the People of God of the Special Asembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10).

Om Midtøsten og Den arabiske halvøy:

Finally, I would like to state once again that the right to religious freedom is not fully respected when only freedom of worship is guaranteed, and that with restrictions. Furthermore, I encourage the accompaniment of the full safeguarding of religious freedom and other humans rights by programmes which, beginning in primary school and within the context of religious instruction, will educate everyone to respect their brothers and sisters in humanity. Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.

Etter det nylige drapet på den frittalende guvernøren av Punjab, Salman Taseer, har søkelyset på den pakistanske blasfemiloven bare økt i styrke. Paven kom med en sterk oppfordring til landets myndigheter om å oppheve loven:

Among the norms prejudicing the right of persons to religious freedom, particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan: I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities. The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction: the worship of God furthers fraternity and love, not hatred and division.

Om situasjonen i Sørøst-Asia og India:

Other troubling situations, at times accompanied by acts of violence, can be mentioned in south and south-east Asia, in countries which for that matter have a tradition of peaceful social relations. The particular influence of a given religion in a nation ought never to mean that citizens of another religion can be subject to discrimination in social life or, even worse, that violence against them can be tolerated. In this regard, it is important for interreligious dialogue to favour a common commitment to recognizing and promoting the religious freedom of each person and community.

Den voldelige julefeiringen i Nigeria ble også omtalt:

And, as I remarked earlier, violence against Christians does not spare Africa. Attacks on places of worship in Nigeria during the very celebrations marking the birth of Christ are another sad proof of this.

Cuba og Kina:

My thoughts turn once again to the Catholic community of mainland China and its pastors, who are experiencing a time of difficulty and trial. I would also like to offer a word of encouragement to the authorities of Cuba, a country which in 2010 celebrated seventy-five years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations with the Holy See, that the dialogue happily begun with the Church may be reinforced and expanded.

Paven vendte deretter fokuset til de vestlige land, og viste hvordan religionen - i pluralismens og toleransens navn - ofte marginaliseres:

Turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society. Christians are even required at times to act in the exercise of their profession with no reference to their religious and moral convictions, and even in opposition to them, as for example where laws are enforced limiting the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care or legal professionals.

Han uttrykte takknemlighet for Den europeiske unions vedtak om retten til samvittighetsfritak for medisinsk personell som ikke ønsker å utføre abort:

In this context, one can only be gratified by the adoption by the Council of Europe last October of a resolution protecting the right to conscientious objection on the part of medical personnel vis-à-vis certain acts which gravely violate the right to life, such as abortion.

Den hellige far brukte den italienske krusifiks-saken som et eksempel på hvordan europeiske land vender seg bort fra sine kristne røtter:

Another sign of the marginalization of religion, and of Christianity in particular, is the banning of religious feasts and symbols from civic life under the guise of respect for the members of other religions or those who are not believers. By acting in this way, not only is the right of believers to the public expression of their faith restricted, but an attack is made on the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations. Last year, a number of European countries supported the appeal lodged by the Italian government in the well-known case involving the display of the crucifix in public places. I am grateful to the authorities of those nations, as well as to all those who became involved in the issue, episcopates, civil and religious organizations and associations, particularly the Patriarchate of Moscow and the other representatives of the Orthodox hierarchy, as well as to all those - believers and non-believers alike - who wished to show their sympathy for this symbol, which bespeaks universal values.

Han fremhevet Den katolske kirkes store bidrag innen utdanning og sosial velferd:

Acknowledging religious freedom also means ensuring that religious communities can operate freely in society through initiatives in the social, charitable or educational sectors. Throughout the world, one can see the fruitful work accomplished by the Catholic Church in these areas. It is troubling that this service which religious communities render to society as a whole, particularly through the education of young people, is compromised or hampered by legislative proposals which risk creating a sort of state monopoly in the schools; this can be seen, for example, in certain countries in Latin America. Now that many of those countries are celebrating the second centenary of their independence - a fitting time for remembering the contribution made by the Catholic Church to the development of their national identity - I exhort all governments to promote educational systems respectful of the primordial right of families to make decisions about the education of their children, systems inspired by the principle of subsidiarity which is basic to the organization of a just society.

Han avsluttet med å bruke Den salige Mor Teresa som eksempel på hvordan Kirken bidrar til det felles beste:

A clear example of this was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: the centenary of her birth was celebrated at Tirana, Skopje and Pristina as well as in India, and a moving homage was paid to her not only by the Church but also by civil authorities and religious leaders, to say nothing of people of all religions. People like her show the world the extent to which the commitment born of faith is beneficial to society as a whole.

Papal address to diplomatic corps (Vatikanradioen)