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POPE-TERRORISM Sep-21-2007 (330 words) xxxi

Pope warns against undermining democracy in fight against terrorism

By Catholic News Service

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI warned politicians against undermining the foundations of democracy in their fight against terrorism.

"Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbor an inexcusable contempt for human life," he told a group of politicians promoting Christian democracy.

Countries have a right to defend themselves, he said, "but this right must be exercised with complete respect for moral and legal norms, including the choice of ends and means."

The pope's comments came during a Sept. 21 audience at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with some 200 members of the executive committee of Centrist Democratic International, an international association of political parties promoting Christian democracy.

Pope Benedict said that in democratic nations "the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional state can never be justified."

He questioned how a nation or group could claim to be protecting democracy "if we threaten its very foundations" by acting unconstitutionally.

Governments must strike a balance of keeping "careful watch over the security of civil society and its citizens while at the same time safeguarding the inalienable rights of all."

He said terrorism must be fought effectively and with determination, but without forgetting that while "the mystery of evil" is everywhere in the world, people's solidarity with one another out of love and goodness "is an even more pervasive mystery."

The pope also urged communities to be respectful of religions and to help promote religious freedom and tolerance.

"All authentically religious traditions must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it," he said.

By supporting every person's right to practice his or her religion, he said, communities can help "counter the charge that society has forgotten God, an accusation shamelessly exploited by some terrorist networks in an attempt to justify their threats against global security."


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