I've included just a few interesting excerpts below. [Any emphasis included in the original address.]
Here Pope Benedict condemns the persecution of Christians...
At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development....and those who would deny life and religious freedom.
Respect for essential elements of human dignity, such as the right to life and the right to religious freedom, is a condition for the moral legitimacy of every social and legal norm.
He also looks to Western nations that have lost their own sense of religious identity.
A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others...it is inconceivable that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights.The pope goes on to stress the importance of the family and the marriage bond between a man and a woman.
The family founded on marriage, as the expression of the close union and complementarity between a man and a woman, finds its place here as the first school for the social, cultural, moral and spiritual formation and growth of children, who should always be able to see in their father and mother the first witnesses of a life directed to the pursuit of truth and the love of God. Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture.He continues at some length, discussing the importance of religious freedom not only as a moral issue, but also as a key element of the development of society. And he does not disguise his condemnation of those who would deny religious freedom or distort its application.
Fanaticism, fundamentalism and practices contrary to human dignity can never be justified, even less so in the name of religion. The profession of a religion cannot be exploited or imposed by force. States and the various human communities must never forget that religious freedom is the condition for the pursuit of truth, and truth does not impose itself by violence but “by the force of its own truth”And pursuing this same train of thought, the Holy Father, goes on to equate fanaticism and secularism because both, although in different ways and for different motives, seek to deny religious freedom.
It should be clear that religious fundamentalism and secularism are alike in that both represent extreme forms of a rejection of legitimate pluralism and the principle of secularity. Both absolutize a reductive and partial vision of the human person, favouring in the one case forms of religious integralism and, in the other, of rationalism. A society that would violently impose or, on the contrary, reject religion is not only unjust to individuals and to God, but also to itself. God beckons humanity with a loving plan that, while engaging the whole person in his or her natural and spiritual dimensions, calls for a free and responsible answer which engages the whole heart and being, individual and communitarian.I encourage you to read Pope Benedict's entire address. You can find it here: World Day of Peace.
Pray for peace...