Pope warns Netherlands against too much freedom of choice

21st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday praised the Dutch government for tackling drug abuse and prostitution while warning against too liberal an approach which could see individuals harm society.

Addressing the new Netherlands ambassador to the Vatican, Benedict XVI said he was "encouraged by the steps that the Dutch government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution".

"While your nation has long championed the freedom of individuals to make their own choices, those choices by which people inflict harm on themselves or others must be discouraged, for the good of individuals or society as a whole," he said.

The pope said the Roman Catholic Church recognises "with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes" but urged all people to act "in accordance with justice and right reason".

The Netherlands has been caught up in the clerical sexual abuse scandal dogging the Catholic Church, with at least 1,100 allegations of sexual abuse committed by priests in three decades from 1950.

Ahead of talks with religious leaders next week, Benedict XVI praised the Dutch government for its "intention to promote freedom of religion" which he said was "a matter of particular concern to the Holy See at the present time".

But he warned that religious freedom is "threatened not only by legal constraints in some parts of the world, but by an anti-religious mentality within many societies", and called on the government to be "vigilant".

© 2011 AFP

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