Intolerant political correctness is hindering religious freedom in the West, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said.
Speaking at a religious liberty symposium organised by the US embassy to the Holy See, the cardinal said “intolerant voices of the ‘politically correct’” are silencing religious beliefs that “clash with their progressive ideology, labelling them as ‘hateful’ and ‘intolerant.’”
“It is time that we reflect more seriously about the root of ‘intolerance’ in such situations and, in particular, the shrinking public space for dialogue for and with those that practice their beliefs openly,” he added.
“Indeed, the degree of respect for freedom of religion in the public sphere is a clear indicator of the health of any society; and, it follows, therefore, that it is also a ‘litmus test’ for the level of respect that exists for all other fundamental human rights as well.”
The meeting was organised for the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Rome.
Also speaking at the event, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for the Relations with States, also warned against the rising tide of political correctness.
“I think it is important to be aware of the fact that attacks against religious liberty are not only coming in the form of physical persecution, but ever more through ideological trends and ‘silencing,’ through what has often been called ‘political correctness,’ which are taking ever larger liberties in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘non-discrimination,’” Gallagher said.
“There are a growing number of examples of this phenomenon, including a number of states passing legislation aggressively attacking both the freedom of conscience and the freedom of religion. It is even present within the certain sectors of multilateral diplomacy,” the archbishop added.
The comments came as the two men tried to play down controversy over the denial of a papal audience to the US Secretary of State.
Parolin said that Pompeo had asked for a meeting with the Pope, but “the Pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods.”
“That is the reason,” Cardinal Parolin told reporters.
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