Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

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: Retired01 - Jul. 15, 2018 1:57 PM ET USA

    According to Cardinal Farrell's logic, an oncologist who never had cancer has no credibility treating a cancer patient, or a mentally healthy psychiatrist has no credibility treating a mentally sick patient. Thus, we also appear to have a paradigm shift in logic these days.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Jul. 14, 2018 3:03 PM ET USA

    When I was considering becoming Catholic, I asked a priest, "So what qualifies you to council married couples?". He replied, "Man, I've spent so much time hearing confessions that I really know human nature!".

  • Posted by: LCRich - Jul. 14, 2018 12:01 PM ET USA

    Where is the Vatican trying to lead us? Priests have much theological and spiritual knowledge to share with engaged couples and certainly should also have practical knowledge from hearing many confessions from married couples who may be struggling in their marriage. I think that marriage preparation counseling is a very important role of Priests.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 14, 2018 9:11 AM ET USA

    If Phil's amendment is correct, then EF priests must possess vast experience in counseling the troubled and doubtful because of their many hours of hearing confession before every Mass. Marriage preparation is essentially counseling the doubtful--those inexperienced in properly living the Catholic duties and joys of the marital walk together.

  • Posted by: vjenkins71201 - Jul. 13, 2018 10:43 PM ET USA

    And especially all the time Pope St. John Paul spent with couples when he was in Poland before becoming pope. His group must have discussed marital issues during their times together on the various outings in the mountains.

  • 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.