Religion has a role in secular society

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  • May 1, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Religions and religious people need to claim their right to contribute to society in both words and actions, Archbishop Thomas Collins told an audience of Jews and Christians gathered for the 23rd annual Neighbourhood Interfaith Group dinner April 23.

In the north Toronto synagogue of the Adath Israel Congregation, Collins urged Christians and Jews not to accept a marginal role in secular society.

“We are citizens and have more than earned our right to contribute to the democratic conversation,” the Toronto archbishop said.


To define secular society as a world free from religion ignores the roots of the term, said Collins. In a truly secular society all religions are equally free to contribute to society in both charitable works and in democratic debate.

“People of faith make contributions to secular society,” Collins said.

Old Testament ethics, particularly the call to social justice found in Psalm 37, were the context for Jesus preaching and should form the basis for Christians and Jews to act together today, he said.

There is danger in religious people turning their back on public roles and preferring to concentrate on self-preservation and internal issues, said Collins.

“It is not wise for believers to retreat into their own fortress. People of faith become marginalized.”

The social teaching of the church from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum through the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, gives Catholics the positive duty to be engaged with society, politics and public debate, but it’s a duty Christians share with all religions, said Collins.

“Together we can advance the common good.”

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