For the first time since the schism of the two religions in the 11th century, Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, met last Friday Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in an historic exercise of “religious unity”.
Their joint declaration is another missed opportunity to re-connect with the reality of or world and of their own believers’ lives.
While secularized societies are once again portrayed as lost and discriminatory (when not aggressive), people’s fundamental rights are further ignored or denied.
Pierre Galand, President of the European Humanist Federation, commented:
Let us remind Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill that the definition they give of “secularism” is at odds with what it genuinely is. A secular society is a society that truly respects all systems of beliefs, being religious or not. It is a society that allows people to endorse, practice or change, abandon, reject or ignore any religion or belief. It is a society that does not favour one religion over another and, most importantly, where beliefs are not used to discriminate against or curtail the rights of others.
Pierre Galand continued: “When talking about abortion, family or euthanasia, both religious leaders are again totally disconnected from what people experience in their everyday lives.
As our friends from Catholics for Choice rightly printed out:
Women of faith —whether Russian Orthodox or Roman Catholic — do follow their own consciences when it comes to reproductive health. Religious leaders have the right to express their opinion, but the right to decide about one’s own life choices is one that rests with individuals.
Pierre Galand further said “It is tragic to see that in so many countries, including in Europe, women continue to suffer and die from unsafe abortions, that women who have been raped are forced to continue with their pregnancy, that girls and boys are still ignorant on how to protect from HIV and STIs. For the sake of public health, churches should stay away from women’s bodies”.
“Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill also talked about love and social justice. But what kind of love and social justice is this when it prevents you from accepting people for who they are? When it makes you despise lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals for the way they behave, for the feelings they have, for the life choices they make? When it makes you condemn, pity, judge or discriminate in the name of your beliefs?”
“We are very much aware that the vast majority of believers openly disagree with their leader’s teachings and instead follow their conscience in good faith. We invite them to join us in the promotion of a society where everyone has a place and we encourage churches to focus on their own internal issues.”
Read also : “Pope and Patriarch Misrepresent the True Meaning of Secularism and Seek to Impose their Beliefs on Others”,Caholics for Choice’ s press release about the meeting