Persecution is common, religious freedom endangered today, Pope says
June 20, 2014
“Nowadays, persecution of Christians is stronger than it was in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs than in that time,” Pope Francis said in June 20 audience with participants in a conference on religious freedom.
Noting that persecution remains widespread even “1700 years after the edict of Constantine, which granted Christians the freedom to publicly profess their faith,” the Pope encouraged participants in the conference to help persuade world leaders of the need to protect religious freedom.
Religious freedom, the Pope said, is a subject of heated debate today in many parts of the world. He observed that the Church is battling “a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences.”
The Pope said that fundamental questions about the meaning and purpose of life arise “from the depths of the person,” and the urge to resolve those questions must be respect. He added that “reason recognizes that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity, that of seeking the truth and adhering to it, and recognizing it as an indispensable condition for realizing all his potential.”
True religious freedom, the Pope added, “is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.”