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Vatican Slams `Impenetrable Wall' Of Separation.

The Vatican's ambassador to the United Nations has criticized separation of church and state, declaring that preservation of religious liberty does not require "the erection of an impenetrable wall between religion and the state."

Archbishop Renato R. Martino made the remarks in a statement issued last December to mark the 50th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Martino said protecting religious freedom is a duty of the government but then called for "the relaxing of a harmful principle of strict separation upon which some governments are based and which, in essence, exiles religion from the realm of public concerns."

Martino added that some people have confused "freedom of religion" with "freedom from religion." In place of "strict separation," Martino called for "dialogue and cooperation" on matters of religion and social policy, reported Catholic News Service.

Martino did not mention the United States in his remarks, but his comments seem aimed at America's policy of church-state separation, as well as court declarations that, in the words of President Thomas Jefferson, the First Amendment has erected "a wall of separation between church and state."
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Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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