Friday, October 23, 2009

Voices, The Lay State and Religious Liberty

Knights of Columbus Symposium in Mexico City

I am a member of the Knights of Columbus, have been for a few years. My father before me was a Knight as well, as was my father in law, before they passed away. It is a very good fraternal organisation that invites Catholic Men to become more involved in their communities, spreading the love of God through their charitable efforts.

So, when I read about joint involvement of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Knights, it caught my attention. From the K of C site, I read:

The Knights of Columbus and the Archdiocese of Mexico City cosponsored a conference on religious liberty in the Americas Sept.25-26 in the Mexican capital. The event was organized by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has held similar conferences in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson delivered the opening address. Other speakers included Harvard law professor and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission J. Kenneth Blackwell, and former U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Robert Seiple. Professors from universities in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Canada also gave presentations. A special Web site features complete details of the conference program.

The purpose of the conference was:

to raise awareness of international religious liberty standards and how they apply to the United States, Latin America, and Mexico. The symposium is also meant to encourage the emerging voices of religious liberty in these countries and to foster collaboration among academics, activists and other creators of culture.

The symposium covers a large range of topics from the application of religious liberty in the international context to specific religious liberty issues in various countries on the American continents. Among the speakers are experts from different countries such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, and different distinguished universities in the United States and Mexico.

Supreme Grand Knight Carl Anderson opened the conference saying:

Christianity is looking to create political ethics, not political theology. “These political ethics should be the same as our personal ethics. They should be consistent with our well-formed Christian conscience. Furthermore, as Pope Benedict has pointed out, our understanding as Christians that humanity is imperfect, and that politics too is imperfect, mitigates against our acceptance of radical, political solutions, which consider themselves perfect. This is the promise –and failure—for instance of communism and liberation theology”.

Doctor Jorge Traslosheros, a researcher for the Institute for Historic Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, made a presentation titled “Sacred-phobia and religious liberty”. In it he stated that:
"there has been a transformation from characterizing religion as “the opium of the people”, as the Marxists did, to now being considered the “tobacco of the people”. “That is, religion viewed as an evil that should be eradicated, at least from the public spaces”, said Traslosheros. The UNAM academician added: “there is a tendency, each time more pronounced, among the intellectual elites and the communication media to adopt a sacred-phobia, an aversion to the sacred”.

Videos and text of all speeches are available here.

It is good to see voices speaking out for our religious freedom.

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