Religious Freedom Under Global Attack

Cardinal Peter Turkson on March 3 highlighted the importance of religious freedom because it concerns “each person’s freedom to live according to their own deeper understanding of the truth.” Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was speaking at a conference entitled “The Church and Human Rights” in Bratislava on the initiative of the Slovakian bishops’ conference. Cardinal Turkson said, “Freedom of religion is inseparable from freedom of thought and conscience” and includes “the freedom to change one’s religion or belief” and “the freedom to manifest that religion or belief both in private and communally.” He added, “At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers persecution in the largest number of countries on account of its faith.” Cardinal Turkson pointed to two particular challenges that religion faces today. On the one hand, he said, secularism, “wants to reduce religion to a purely private concern.” On the other hand, “extreme forms of fundamentalism” are not religion, “but a falsification of religion” because they are opposed to “reconciliation and the establishment of God’s peace.”

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