July 17, 2010. Benedict XVI will address religious freedom in his main message to the world political community. It is his message for the World Day of Peace, on every 1st of January. This year's theme will be called “Religious freedom, the path to peace.”
The pope directly denounced that in some parts of the world religious freedom does not exist and many people are marginalized, persecuted and punished because of their faith.
China is the main example. Despite the Constitution allowing the practice of five religions, they persecute and arrest those who do not follow the government's orders in matters of faith. Currently 10 priests and two bishops are incarcerated in this country just for being Catholics.
In Pakistan religious minorities, like Christians, are harshly persecuted through the law of anti- blasphemy. This law regulates offenses against Muhammad and the Koran and punishes those who do not comply with penalties reaching life in prison or death. On numerous occasions this law has been used to punish residents who profess another religion.
In India, the most extremist of Hinduism combat religions that come from the outside such as Christianity. In Europe there is also a lack of religious freedom. In the UK the government prohibits religious manifestations in public, such as carrying the cross and Catholics cannot join the royal family.
During his visit to the United Nations in April of 2008, the pope showed that it is “inconceivable” that believers have to suppress their faith in order to have their rights respected.
“It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature”.
Benedict XVI, in his encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' said that religious freedom should be recognized as a “fundamental right of mankind” and it is the foundation for “integral human growth” and world peace.