(Iraqi Christians banner)
Archbishop Vincent Nichols welcomed Archbishop Bashar Warda, from Erbil in North Iraq, at the launch of Aid to the Church in Need’s report Persecuted and Forgotten? calling on the Catholic community to hold our Iraqi brothers and sisters in our prayers.
He thanked Aid to the Church in Need for their work and the report, stating that the key issue was the promotion of Religious Freedom. This had to be done because:
Human beings are essentially religious and denial of religious freedom is a denial of essential dignity.
Such denial undermines moral dignity and integrity and weakens moral structures of societies.
Religious freedom is fundamental to social justice and stability.
Religious freedom is essential to building peace.
The importance of religious freedom was emphasised by two recent speeches of Pope Benedict XVI.
On 1 January for the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict said: “Religious freedom is not the exclusive property of believers but of the whole family of the earth’s people. It is the litmus test for the respect of all the other human rights.”