Lord Williams decries conflict between civil rights and religious freedom

The former Archbishop of Canterbury has called for the reconciliation of secular legal theories of human rights with the right of religious freedom.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has called for the reconciliation of secular legal theories of human rights with the right of religious freedom. In an interview with the Church of Ireland Gazette, Lord Williams said ““It is dangerous I think for everyone if the language of human rights and the language of religious liberty drift apart too much.” Speaking in response to Pope Francis remarks to the European Parliament in Strasbourg last month, Lord Williams noted that “today, there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights, and, I am tempted to say, individualistic rights.” He added that “a lot of religious people, Christians and others, look at the human rights discourse and say ‘well that’s all about individual flourishing, and individual autonomy,’ and religious faith is not about individual autonomy – it’s about community. “The challenge is to reimagine human rights and I guess that part of what the pope is saying; reimagine human rights with a very, very strong emphasis on reciprocity – what we owe to one another, not just what is owed to us.”

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