Holy See calls for inclusion of religious and faith communities in public debate

The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe underscores the traits of authentic democracy and urges States to include the participation of citizens in legislative initiatives, including religious and faith communities.

By Vatican News staff writer

Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk has called for encouraging the” inclusion of religious and belief communities, in a timely fashion, in public discussions of pertinent legislative initiatives.”

The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) made this appeal on Tuesday during the closing session of the Second Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting, themed: “Democratic Law-Making: Ensuring participation.”

He invited participating States to promote representatives of religious communities to give their views, based on moral convictions deriving from their faith, and to contribute to debates on current issues. Doing this, he noted, will allow “for an alternative voice to be heard and prevent deeply held moral views from being disregarded in the law-making process.”

Authentic democracy ensures participation of citizens

Monsignor Urbańczyk reiterated the Holy See’s respect for democratic systems “inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate.”

He stressed that “authentic democracy is possible only in a State ruled by law and on the basis of the correct conception of the human person,” which require the necessary conditions for the advancement of the individual and the society through education and formation in true ideals, as well as the subjectivity of society through the creation of structures of participation and responsibility.

At the same time, the Monsignor affirmed that “an authentic democracy is not merely the result of a formal observation of a set of rules.” Rather, it is the fruit of acceptance of values that inspire democratic procedures, including “the dignity of every human person, the respect of human rights, commitment to the common good as the purpose and guiding criterion for political life.”

“If there is no general consensus on these values,” he warned, “the deepest meaning of democracy is lost and its stability is compromised.”

The democratic process calls for peace, respectful dialogue

Re-echoing Pope Francis’ words in February, during his address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, Monsignor Urbańczyk pointed out that “democracy is based on mutual respect, on the possibility that each person can contribute to the good of society, and on the consideration that different opinions do not threaten the power and security of states.” In fact, honest debate mutually enriches and enables them to find more suitable solutions to pressing problems.

To achieve this, the democratic process calls for pursuing the path of “inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue” among the components of civil society in every State, especially since the law – the prerequisite for the exercise of all power – must be guaranteed by the governing bodies, regardless of their political interests.

Human Dimension Meetings

The Second Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting, held from 26-27 April, aimed at exchanging views on democratic legislative processes, as well as in the ways in which OSCE member-States can ensure conformity of their laws with international human rights laws.

The meetings had three working sessions: the first was dedicated to open and inclusive legislative processes, reflecting on the rule of law and transparency to combat corruption; the second focused on challenges and opportunities of the current legislative processes in the context of the ongoing pandemic; while the third was dedicated to public participation and the digital space in the legislative process.