Action Alert!

The Saudi contribution to religious freedom

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 26, 2012

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue opens today in Vienna. Why in Vienna? Well, it couldn’t really be based in Riyadh, could it? It might be a bit messy, inviting people into town to talk about inter-religious harmony, and then arresting them for practicing their religion.

The Vatican, which is a “founding observer” of this new international institution, promises to use the new forum “to express her concerns regarding the effective respect for the basic rights of Christians living in countries with a Muslim majority, in order to promote authentic and integral religious freedom.” Good. If Saudi leaders are trying to purchase respectability, let’s have none of it.

Sure, you can put your own name on a center dedicated to inter-religious harmony. You can, presumably, supply the funding, too. But if you want to be taken seriously, you've got to walk the walk.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Saint Jimbob of the Apokalypse - Nov. 26, 2012 2:52 PM ET USA

    I'm sure that Saudi royalty would like to host that kind of dialog in their own country, but they aren't too keen on the martyrdom that would inevitably follow at the hands of their subjects. Give them at least a little credit that they are putting their name to the project.