Wednesday, May 16, 2012

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM... crucial. Pope Benedict affirmed this speaking to the Diplomatic Corps at the start of this year,noting that religious freedom is "the first of human rights, for it expresses the most fundamental reality of the person." He said that "religious freedom should be understood not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one's own choices in accordance with truth." And this freedom is widely under attack. Lord (David) Alton chaired a meeting in Parliament yesterday organised with Aid to the Church in Need, to draw attention to the plight of Christians in Pakistan and in Egypt. Bishop Joseph Coutts of Pakistan spoke about how Christians are bullied at work because of their faith - in rural areas they may be denied access to wells because they are deemed to be "dirty", and they are unable to get the educational opportunities they need because they are told that they should become Moslem in order to fit in. Pakistan was never envisaged as a fully Islamic state - the idea of true religious freedom and tolerance was firmly upheld by the nation's founder, Jinnah, back in the 1940s. But now a new form of militant Islamicism has taken hold and Christians cannot affirm and live their faith peacefully alongside their neighbours without fear. The Second Vatican Council's declaration Dignitatis Humanae forcefully emphasises religious freedom:"The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right." Christians are not asking for privileges, but rights. Join ACN and other defenders of religious freedom tomorrow, May 17th, at Westminster Cathedral piazza, 5pm This is your chance to make a stand. Come, and bring your friends. More info here.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I will be with you all in spirit, since I'm unable to attend. People forget that we have these rights, guarenteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and here in Canada the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Whenever a problem comes up as it did recently in a School out east, people are trying to come up with "solutions" and "compromises" out of personal opinion and thin air, and forget that freedom of religion and freedom to express oneself are basic human rights. People like teachers and MP's who ought to know better. The Canadian Bishops have just come out with a document in support of religious freedom here in Canada. It's hard to imagine what it must be like to be Christian in Pakistan. I was surprised when I read the founder of Pakistan's vision for his country,(it is available on the Government of Pakistan's website) he would be shocked by what has happened there today.