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- Published: Tuesday, 08 March 2011 09:20
APPEALS FOR RESPECT FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
from the Vatican Representative to the United Nations and from SIGNIS, The World Catholic Association for Communication
Kevin Clarke at America Magazine reports that Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva issued a statement on the requirement of religious freedom that is especially pertinent in light of the assassination March 1 of Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Archbishop Silvano points out: "Religious strife is a danger to social, political, and economic development. Religious conflict polarizes society, breaking the bonds necessary for social life and commerce to flourish".
He also suggested that: The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion could be invited regularly to include information on persecution of religious groups. It would be helpful if the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights were to monitor the situation of governmental and societal restrictions on religious freedom and report annually to the Human Rights Council.
Brussels, March 4 (SIGNIS). SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, today supported church and civil society leaders calling for the Pakistan government to take concrete measures to curb extremism and uphold the religious freedom of minorities
The President of SIGNIS, Augustine Loothusamy said: “We condemn the terrible murder of the minister for minorities, Mr Bhatti. We fully support the stand taken by Archbishop Saldanha and other leaders in calling for the Pakistan government to renew efforts to ‘take practical steps to curb extremism’ and safeguard the religious rights of all communities.
We join with our colleagues in SIGNIS Asia in urging our members, partners and friends to use this time for prayer, reconciliation and mutual respect between religions.
We pray that out of this tragedy will come a renewed commitment to sustain a peaceful and democratic Pakistan in which the human rights of all are recognized and protected.
As SIGNIS we renew our commitment to building a culture of peace, using the media to build bridges of understanding between all communities.”
SIGNIS, (World Catholic Association for Communication
SIGNIS Asia President, Lawrence John Sinniah has condemned the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti:
It is with great sadness that we hear the killing of Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for religious minorities in Pakistan. Bhatti, 42-was a Roman Catholic. A leaflet left at the assassination site threatened further violence and said that an "infidel Christian" shouldn't have been allowed to head a committee looking at amending of laws.
Both Catholic and Protestant bishops plan to meet today at 5 pm at the residence of Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore.
We call on all SIGNIS Asia members, their partners and friends to condemn the killing and use this time for prayer, reconciliation and mutual respect for all religions.
Please include a special prayer for Mr. Bhatti family, minority groups, the meetings by Catholic and Christian groups and especially for the Pakistan Government to work towards greater peace in the region.
See: Christian groups in Pakistan organized street protests and meetings after the assassination of Catholic federal minister for minorities affairs Shahbaz Bhatti yesterday in Islamabad.
Posted by Jim McDonnell (SIGNIS)