Man’s happiness and fulfillment depend on religious freedom, asserts Vatican official

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2010 / 02:52 pm (CNA).- The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Archbishop Mario Toso, remarked this week that, “man’s happiness and complete fulfillment depend on religious freedom,” adding that religion's “public value” must be recognized.

During a speech on religious freedom at the Pontifical Lateran University, the archbishop stated, “It can be said that religious freedom is in reality what Jean Hersch defined as 'Le droit d'être un homme' (the right to be a man).”

After explaining that it is necessary “to be firm in the condemnation of any form of manipulation and abuse of religion, which translates into the use and abuse of the human person,” Archbishop Toso added: “At the same time we need to promote and protect religious freedom wherever it is threatened or denied, where human being are discriminated, persecuted or deprived of their essential goods or of life itself because of their religious convictions.”

“The public value of religion needs to be recognized, that is, its role in purifying and strengthening the civil ethos,” he underscored.

Archbishop Toso said, “The anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers us a great opportunity: that of understanding that the great religions … can offer an important contribution to the affirmation of the international social order founded upon human dignity and upon the idea that our fundamental rights and freedoms can be fully recognized.

“Authentic social and international order cannot exist without the contribution of the wisdom and experience, the values and principles that the great religions possess,” the archbishop said. “The declaration states thus. It is a legitimate aspiration, then, and a right of man, which according to Thomas Aquinas, ‘is the most noble thing that exists in the universe’.”