Pope Issues Statements to Sikhs on French Religious Symbols Ban

January 30, 2004

Source: SikhNetwork


On January 30, 2004 the SikhNetwork reported, "[T]he Vatican issued a message from His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Tarlochan Singh, Chairman National Commission for Minorities in India in response to Tarlochan Singh's previous communication to the Vatican regarding the proposed ban on the turban for Sikhs in the schools of France...[The Pope writes,] 'Communities of believers, an expression of the religious dimension of the human being, exist in all societies. Believers, therefore, legitimately expect to take part in the public dialogue. Unfortunately, it must be noted that this is not always the case. In recent times, we have witnessed in some European countries an attitude that could endanger the effective respect for religious freedom. Everyone may agree to respect the religious sentiment of individuals but the same cannot be said of the "religious factor", that is, the social dimension of religions...It is nothing other than respect for all beliefs on the part of the State that assures the free excercise of ritual, spiritual and cultural and charitable activities by communities of believers. In a pluralistic society, secularity is a place for communication between the different spiritual traditions and the nation."