Church leaders in Serbia have launched celebrations to mark the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, under which Christians were granted religious freedom in the Roman Empire.
"For the first time in history, religious liberty was proclaimed
under this agreement", said Archbishop Orlando Antonini, the Vatican's
nuncio in Belgrade.
"This respect for freedom of conscience was a great
achievement of political culture and ethics. But it was also a deeply
Christian event, since it was Christians who led the political power to
recognise there are personal rights which underpin the state and must be
recognised and guaranteed by it".
The Church official was speaking at a ceremony with government and
state leaders in the eastern town of Nis, formerly Naissus, in Rome's
Dardania province, where the Edict's author, Emperor Constantine the
Great, was born in around 272 AD.