The pope tells ambassadors that religion should not be marginalized. Pope Benedict xvi spoke up for persecuted Christians around the world in a speech to ambassadors to the Vatican on January 9.
The theme of his speech was young people—how the world’s troubles affect them, and how to help them. He discussed “the grave and disturbing developments of the global economic and financial crisis” and the “agitation which has affected various regions, at times severely”—aka the “Arab Spring.”
The solution, he said, was education, noting that “the family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states.”
The pope then forcefully condemned the global persecution of Christians, tying this into his theme by noting “it is clear that an effective educational program also calls for respect of religious freedom.”
“In many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes,” he said. “At times they are forced to leave the countries they have helped to build because of persistent tensions and policies which frequently relegate them to being second-class spectators of national life.”
He praised former Pakistani Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, who was shot after speaking out for persecuted Christians. He also condemned religiously motivated terrorism.
But he did not only speak about violent persecution. “In other parts of the world,” he said, “we see policies aimed at marginalizing the role of religion in the life of society ….” He made it clear that he believed Catholicism should play a public role in Europe, saying, “I am proud to recall … that the Christian vision of man was the true inspiration for the framers of Germany’s Basic Law, as indeed it was for the founders of a united Europe.”
He praised the European Court of Human Right’s decision to
state schools to display crosses. Indeed, he praised Italy’s relationship between church
and state as a model for other nations.The speech shows the Catholic Church’s
to be the defender of Christians around the world.
The pope’s speech clearly shows he expect Europe to fight the powers that are today persecuting Christians.