Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Archbishop Paul Gallagher (Vatican News)

Governments should exercise “a detached neutrality” towards religions, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states told a conference last week. Source: The Tablet.

Speaking at the Order of Malta’s headquarters in Rome during a discussion of religious freedom and integral human development, Archbishop Paul Gallagher said all individuals and religious groups should enjoy “an equal right to the public manifestation of their religious convictions”.

However, he said that 4.9 billion people – over 60 per cent of the world’s population – “are currently prevented or harmed in the exercise of their rights in matters of conscience”. He said that 365 million Christians face “high levels of persecution for their faith”.

The conference considered the “global crisis of religious freedom” in the terms of integral human development, the Catholic concept of individual and communal growth advanced by the French Dominican Louis-Joseph Lebret and employed in Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio. Pope Francis created the Dicastery for Integral Human Development in 2016.

Although he noted that such ideas “at times can seem to become a sort of jargon”, Archbishop Gallagher argued that the concept provided a powerful mechanism for promoting religious freedom.

“Those who are able to enjoy religious freedom will also be able to achieve their own integral development, and will be agents of development in the wider society,” he said. 

Freedom of conscience was “arguably the most fundamental” human right, because it limits the state’s authority and so “ensures that fundamental rights are not violated”.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP last week said Australian politicians were threatening religious freedom with “attacks on conscience” and legislation to undermine Catholic institutions.

Speaking to CNA, he said the Church’s schools and hospitals were threatened by state and federal policies “that are hostile to religion”, but insisted that “without the firm foundation of the infinite dignity of the human person the house of human rights will ultimately fall”.


Religious freedom ensures other rights, says Vatican diplomat (By Patrick Hudson, The Tablet)