Pope: Terror fight must respect law
By Ariel David, Associated Press
Article Launched: 09/22/2007
Long Beach Press
VATICAN CITY - Democratic societies have the right to defend themselves against terrorism but must also respect laws and human rights - or they risk endangering the very freedoms they want to protect, Pope Benedict XVI said Friday.
"In democratic systems, the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional state can never be justified," the pope said at an audience with members of the Centrist Democrat International, an association of center-right parties from around the world.
"Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbor an inexcusable contempt for human life," Benedict said.
The pope said that some terrorist networks justify their actions by "shamelessly" exploiting the charge that society has forgotten God, and he said that a greater respect for religion could help counter that accusation.
"Society naturally has a right to defend itself," but the struggle against terrorism must respect moral and legal norms, the pope said.
"How can we claim to protect democracy if we threaten its very foundations?" Benedict said. "It is necessary both to keep careful watch over the security of civil society and its citizens while at the same time safeguarding the inalienable rights of all."
The pope did not mention specific countries or people.
Benedict urged the politicians to spread values he said are being endangered by changes in their communities. He urged them to oppose abortion, divorce and ideologies that view financial gain as the only good.
The pope also spoke out in defense of religious freedom, which he said includes the right to choose one's faith.
"The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice," he said