Monday, 10 January 2011

Pope Benedict speaks out on Pakistan's blasphemy laws

Pope Benedict in his new year address to assembled diplomats at the Vatican spoke out in favour of religious freedom throughout the world and the need for governments, particularly in Iraq and Egypt, to take urgent steps to protect religious minorities. Following his plea before Christmas for the life of Asia Bibi, he also had this to say about the situation in Pakistan:
"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."
But the Holy Father also takes western societies to task for their failure to live up to their own declared pluralism and respect for human rights and religious freedom:
"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."
Thanks to Sandro Magister. Read it all here

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