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Inauguração do Centro de Acolhimento Temporário para Crianças Refugiadas, Casa Caçula
Inauguração do Centro de Acolhimento Temporário para Crianças Refugiadas, Casa Caçula
Lisboa, 15 de Maio de 2012 see more: Inauguração do Centro de Acolhimento Temporário para Crianças Refugiadas, Casa Caçula


Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva Speeches

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Colóquio sobre Liberdade Religiosa no Mundo (5)
Colóquio sobre Liberdade Religiosa no Mundo (1)

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Speech by Mrs. Maria Cavaco Silva at the Colloquium on Religious Freedom in the World
Fórum Picoas, Lisbon, 27 June 2006

My Friends,

We have just heard the Report on Religious Freedom in the World. We have contacted a reality that some stubbornly insist in ignoring, falsely comforted by the tranquillity they feel around them. We have learned that the Church suffers. Many believers continue to suffer and are in need of our help We have also learned that the martyr is not just the far-distant victim of the lions at a Roman circus that so many of us saw in the films of the times, so in vogue when I was a child.

Martyrs are our contemporaries, men, women and even children who suffer persecution and oppression, who are vilified, assaulted and even lose their lives for their love of God. Fr Werenfried, the creator of the Aid to the Church that Suffers Foundation, said one day, “Our mission is just to wipe away Christ’s tears, wherever he may weep”. We cannot pretend we do not know that Christ still weeps today. He weeps for those who suffer. He weeps for the church that suffers. We must reserve in the project of our lives a little time to wipe away Christ’s tears.

Religious freedom is the guarantee that each individual can live his faith and that, living it, can be a complete person. It is based on the conviction that every human being has the inviolable right to practise the religion he deems fits or not to practise any. What violence can attack the conscience of each person more radically than imposing on him forms of living that deny his most profound convictions, which, for the believer, means living without his faith? Pope John Paul II stated that the true test of regard for fundamental rights is to be found in religious freedom, for it is “the heart of human rights”, in that “religion expresses the most profound aspirations of the human person, determines his vision of the world, directs his relations with others, fundamentally, it provides an answer to the question of the true meaning of existence, both at personal and at social level”.

We must agree with the Holy Father we miss so; indeed, how can a state that does not respect and promote religious freedom respect and promote other fundamental rights? Freedom to practise a religion, to stop practising a religion or not to practise one at all is a fundamental option of every human being, an option for which the powers that be must have due regard. Therefore, elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based in religion must be the goal of all men of good will.

This colloquium provides a voice for those who have none. Rogério Alves gave the very appropriate example of the Kafka case. The condemned person did not know the reason for which he was condemned, one of those to whom the freedom of faith and the liberty to denounce their situation was refused. Silence for them is a second oppression, for those unable to speak cannot be heard and feel alone. To feel alone in the midst of suffering is a third oppression, perhaps the most painful of all. Giving them voice, to the extent of our ability, shows both them and their oppressors that the persecuted are not alone. Feeling the joy of the existence of companions, even distant, even just in the spirit, is a force that we wish to pass on to them, that we have an obligation to pass on to them. Initiatives such as this are therefore a way of giving more soul to those who stubbornly resist.

I would like to thank the organisers of this event, one that I did not hesitate to join. I wish everyone a continuation of the good work. But, above all, I wish from the bottom of my heart that your work will be more than a tragic listing of violations of religious freedom. I would like, and I think I may say we would all like to hear some words of hope. Let such words be uttered during this conference. Let us rejoice with those states that finally come to recognise in the freedom of faith one of the guarantees of the happiness of mankind. Let us welcome leaders of differing religions that find a divine sign in the experience of mutual respect between believers.

I believe in a world without martyrs. I would like to believe in a world in which men do not suffer torment by virtue of their faith, no matter what that faith may be. These are my wishes. And, if my wishes come true, perhaps there will be a need to hold just one more conference on Religious Freedom in the World: the one at which we shall all come together in joy, because, at least for one Church that suffers, we shall have no more tears of Christ to wipe away.

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