Cardinal Speaks on Reciprocity Policy

While the Catholic Church recognizes the religious freedom of all believers and insists that Catholics be able to worship wherever they live, the Vatican does not have clear guidelines for applying the principle of reciprocity to relations with other religions, said the cardinal in charge of interreligious dialogue. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, discussed the legal and theological implications of reciprocity at a conference March 26 in Rome. "Reciprocity is a concept present mostly in the field of international law, particularly in relations between states," the cardinal said, opening the conference on religious freedom and reciprocity at Romes Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. In international relations, reciprocity is an agreement that rights or obligations guaranteed in one state also will be guaranteed in states where an agreement of reciprocity has been reached, he said. One of the clearest cases where reciprocity is lacking, he said, is in the field of religious freedom. For example, while Muslims generally are free to build mosques and worship publicly in predominantly Christian nations, places like Saudi Arabia still refuse to allow Christians to build churches or worship publicly.


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