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Teaching of religion does not hurt the secular nature of the State

· Benedict XVI to the new Ambassador from Brazil ·

“Teaching of a particular religion in State schools…does not only not prejudice the secularism of the State, it guarantees parents’ rights to chose the education of their children, thus helping to promote the common good,” Benedict XVI emphasized in his address to Almir Franco de Sà Barbuda, the new Brazilian Ambassador to the Holy See, received in audience on Monday morning, October 31, for the presentation of his credentials. The Pope said that it was opportune to reaffirm that religious confessional teaching in the public schools, far from signifying that the State assumes or imposes a certain religious belief, indicates the recognition of religion as a necessary value for the formation of the individual. And the teaching in question, continued the Pontiff, can not be reduced  to a generic sociology of religions, because a generic, a-confessional religion does not exist. Benedict XVI referring to social justice, then affirmed that the Brazilian government knows that it can count on the Church as a privileged partner in all of the initiatives that aim to eradicate hunger and want. The Pope reiterated that the contribution of the Church is not limited to concrete humanitarian or educational initiatives but is also concerned in a particular way with the ethical growth of society, promoted by the many manifestations of openness to the transcendent and through the formation of consciences that are aware of the duties of solidarity. The concordat signed between the Holy See and the Brazilian government in 2008  - far from being a source of privilege for the Church or an affront to the secular state – is the guarantee which allows the ecclesial community to develop all of it potential for the benefit of every human person and the entire Brazilian society.

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