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Intervention of Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace (VATICAN CITY)



AWARENESS OF THE CHURCH’S SOCIAL DOCTRINE
From a reading of the Instrumentum laboris of this synod, what emerges is the need to spread more widely awareness of the Gospel and the Church’s Social Doctrine among Christians, and more widely, in the countries of the Middle Eastern region. Therefore in line with the sense of para 26 (Instr. Laboris), awareness of the PCGP site could be encouraged as an instrument at the service of the local Churches for a deeper study of the Church’s Social Doctrine. On this subject, the PCGP undertakes to complete the translation of the Compendium of the Church’s Social Doctrine into Arabic.
Furthermore, we could consider, given the intention of the PCGP to set up a summer school at this dicastery, also inviting and involving priests from the Middle East in the sense of the desire expressed in para 26 (Instr. Laboris). Another initiative that could be promoted by the PCGP is that of bringing the Church’s Social Doctrine directly to the Middle East, organizing, for example, a symposium to present Caritas in veritate.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

In para 37 we read: “In the Middle East, freedom of religion customarily means freedom of worship...” etc. Given the theme of the Peace Message 2011 (Religious freedom, the road to peace), it would be useful, first of all, to restate the fact that authentic religious freedom includes the freedom to preach and convert. Furthermore, it should be noted that in certain countries, the subject of religious freedom is still viewed with a certain diffidence. For them, religious freedom implies religious relativism, indifference and the negation of the country’s religious inheritance. The Catholic Church faced the same problem with regard to the interpretation of “Dignitatis Humanae” from Vatican II (the Declaration on religious freedom) years ago. But as Pope Benedict VXI teaches us, “Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal” (Civ. 55). In fact there is no conflict between religious freedom and the strong defense of a person’s religious identity against relativism. Religious freedom is about the privilege (freedom) of a believer to form, live and announce his religious experience, without coercion from the state, but with the possibility of contributing to the social order.
Therefore the Churches and minority religions in the Middle East must not be subject to discrimination, violence, defamatory propaganda (anti-Christian), the denial of building permits for places of worship and the organization of public functions. In fact, the promotion of the Resolutions against the Defamation of Religions in the framework of the United Nations should not limit itself to Islam (Islamophobia) in the Western world. It should include Christianity (Christianophobia: the religion and the community of believers) in the Islamic world.
We can also promote the adoption, again within the UN framework, of a resolution on religious freedom as an alternative to the resolution on the defamation of religions.
MIGRATION
In the section relating to international immigration in the Middle East in particular referring to paragraphs 49 and 50 we encounter themes that are particularly close to the heart of this PCGP:
The theme of immigration as a worldwide phenomenon (emigration and immigration).
The theme of decent jobs for domestic workers, who are largely women. To this have to be added needs linked to the respect for human dignity, human rights and the rights of workers, as well as needs linked to respect or religious belief.
FORMATION OF YOUNG PEACE PROMOTERS
Finally, given the large amount of hostility present in the area of the Middle East, paragraph 69 underlines the importance of training young people “to go beyond these bounds and internal hostilities to see the face of God in every person, so as to work together and build an all-inclusive, shared civic order”. The PCGP could elect to favor stagieres and participants from the Middle East at the summer schools who, having returned home, can act as spokesmen for a message of peace among young people, a sort of peace practitioner (cf Laura Villanueva and her peace Field Japan).
In conclusion, as maintained in paragraph 115 the greatest witness Christians can bear in the social field, in the Middle East as in the rest of the world, is that of freely loving their fellow man. The invitation to give, and freely, on the part of Benedict XVI in the encyclical Caritas in veritate is, in fact, an invitation to assume a fraternal way of behaving, an attitude of promoting the growth of our neighbor, an attitude of seeking the common good.

[00116-02.07] [IN090] [Original text: Italian]




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