The Mideast story hardly covered

Behind the headlines coming out of Egypt and other countries in political and social upheaval in the Middle East, the story is about human life and striving and destiny, maybe more than it ever was before social communications media empowered these peoples’ revolutions.

Fundamentally, the human right that grounds whatever social or political construct that comes out of it all is the one thing media are hardly mentioning…..religious freedom. Pope Benedict has been talking about it for a long time.

Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria have been killed in churches, in Pakistan a blasphemy law has become an “excuse to cause injustice and violence”, in China they are experiencing a “moment of difficulty and trial,” in the West they are object of a “growing marginalization” which evens demands the rejection of any “reference to religious and moral convictions.” The list of violations and attacks on religious freedom delivered today by Benedict XI to the representatives of 180 countries and international organizations that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, touches hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man’s being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs.  Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal…

This primary and basic truth is the reason why, in this year’s Message for World Day of Peace, I identified religious freedom as the fundamental path to peace.  Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others.

Asia News reports that Egyptian Imams and intellectuals get that, and are working on a program of renewing Islam. It’s the unreported revolution.

A score of intellectuals and theologians of Al Azhar have issued a text of enormous importance, entitled “Document for the renewal of religious discourse.” The text was “posted” on the Internet…on the website of the weekly magazine Yawm al-Sâbi’'(“The Seventh Day”). The importance of the document also derives from its signatories, all noted scholars and profoundly committed Muslims.

The outcome of this revolution is as uncertain as the political one. Pope Benedict is watching, and praying, joined by Christians of the Middle East.