Expert Explains in European Commission Why Faith is Not Only Private
(30.03.2012) In a speech given at the European Commission on March 30th, 2012, Professor Giorgio Feliciani, Director of the Center of Studies on Ecclesiastical Bodies (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) brings to light the importance of reasserting religious liberty in Europe.
In the European Union, freedom of religion must be taken into account both in its personal and its social aspects. Indeed, if religious belief is of a personal matter, it also expresses itself in the public sphere because “the religious commitment involves integration or rather being part of a community.” The public expression of religious freedom is too often left aside, says Professor Feliciani. He explains how “even subjects without specific religious connotations can affect the sensitivity of religious people and have influence on their situation. He gives and develops numerous examples such as: the economic and social policy, the right of asylum and of immigration, scientific research, bioethics, human rights, education, media, etc.
He then explains that the European Commission must feel concerned by religious or philosophical issues, as they are the key elements at the core of the universal values of unalienable rights of human beings as well as freedom, democracy, equality and law. He brings to light a certain number of cases in which freedom of liberty and Europe’s Christian inheritance have been questioned or denied. He therefore calls for a greater vigilance to the respect of religious freedom in Europe and to the reaffirmation of the just conception of freedom of religion; respectful of laicism but granting full rights of demonstrating, privately and publicly, one’s own religious beliefs.
The most interesting quotes translated into English:
“One wants to deny to religions - and particularly to Christian denominations - any cultural, social or political importance, by relegating them to the private sphere and the individual consciousness.”
“One even comes to harm people’s liberty by prohibiting to employees, under threat of dismissal, to wear religious symbols or by requiring that they act, when exercising their professional responsibilities and policies, without any account of - or even against - their religious beliefs.”
“Freedom of religion is certainly one of the human rights which is the most specifically and importantly recognized by national constitutions and international conventions but is, paradoxically, ranked among those the most seriously and systematically violated.”