Values for Coexistence

28 October 2004
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, addressed the assembly on “Religion as a Value for Coexistence,” arguing for broadly defined religious freedom that should be seen as a positive value in the fight against terrorism, “and not be manipulated or seen as a threat to peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance.” The majority of Migliore’s address, however, did not concern North Korea-style infringements on religious liberty, but rather the “new forms of religious intolerance” that result from the conflict between individual freedoms and public expressions of religion. Keeping religious institutions in the private sphere is undemocratic, Migliore said, but attempting to apply secular laws or standards to religious institutions operating in the public sphere “would undermine their raison d’être as well as the very fabric of society.” If this seems to suggest problems down the road between two sets of “inviolate” rights, take comfort in the fact that Migliore also gave notice to religious leaders, saying they are responsible for dispelling misuses or misrepresentations of religious beliefs and freedom. Hard to see where that could go wrong.