Monday, February 06, 2006

The Holy See on the freedom of speech

The Holy See, through the Vatican press office, has made a response regarding the current situation in Europe over a series of cartoons depicting Mohammed that have stoked outrage from Muslims. The statement came via this morning's Vatican Information Service bulletin:

VATICAN CITY, FEB 4 2006 (VIS) - In response to several requests for the Holy See's position vis-à-vis recent representations offensive to the religious sentiments of individuals and entire communities, the Vatican press office states:

"1. The right to freedom of thought and expression, sanctioned by the Declaration of the Rights of Man, cannot imply the right to offend the religious sentiments of believers. This principle obviously applies for any religion.

2. In addition, coexistence calls for a climate of mutual respect favoring peace among men and nations. Moreover, these kinds of exasperated criticisms or derision of others manifest a lack of human sensitivity and may constitute in some cases an inadmissible provocation. A reading of history shows that wounds existing in the life of a people are not healed in this way.

3. However, it must be said immediately that the offenses caused by an individual or a member of the press cannot be imputed to the public institutions of the corresponding country, whose authorities might and should intervene eventually, according to the principles of national legislation. Therefore, violent actions of protest are equally deplorable. Reaction in the face of offense cannot fail the true spirit of all religion. Real or verbal intolerance, no matter where it comes from, whether as action or reaction, is always a serious threat to peace."

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