Saturday, April 16, 2016

Holy See: Christians "easiest target" of anti-religious bigotry

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From the Website of Vatican
links: http://www.news.va/en/news/holy-see-christians-easiest-target-of-anti-religio


Holy See: Christians "easiest target" of anti-religious bigotry

(Vatican Radio) Monsignor Janusz S. Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), on Thursday said “a weakening of the freedom of religion” has led to the “discrimination and intolerance against Christians within the OSCE region.”

He was speaking during a meeting on “Policies and Strategies to Further Promote Tolerance and Non-Discrimination” taking place in the 57-nation security organization’s Vienna headquarters.

“Particularly worrisome is the fact that across the OSCE region a sharp dividing line seems to be drawn between religious belief and religious practice: Christians are frequently reminded in public discourse or even in the courts, that they can believe whatever they like in private, and worship as they wish in their own churches, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public,” – Msgr. Urbańczyk said. – “This is a deliberate twisting and limiting of what religious freedom, which holds also for Christians, actually means.”

The Vatican diplomat said this is “not the freedom that was enshrined in the OSCE commitments,” beginning with the Helsinki Final Act.

“The media and public discourse are not always free from attitudes of intolerance and, sometimes, of actual denigration of Christians  and  members  of  other religions, with Christians being the easiest target,” Msgr. Urbańczyk said.

He added “advocacy of ‘politically correct’ issues all too often provides sufficient justification to label and denigrate Christians as bigoted or intolerant.”

The full statement by Msgr. Urbańczyk is below

STATEMENT

BY MSGR. JANUSZ URBAŃCZYK, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOLY SEE, AT THE SUPPLEMENTARY HUMAN DIMENSION MEETING ON “POLICIES AND STRATEGIES TO FURTHER PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND NON-DISCRIMINATION”

Vienna, 14 April 2016
Working Session 1:

Challenges to Realizing Tolerance and Non-Discrimination:  Root Causes and Consequences

Mr. Moderator,

As it is the first time the Delegation of the Holy See takes the floor, allow me to express our gratitude to  the  German  OSCE  Chairmanship for convoking this most timely Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting.  I also  thank Mr.  Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos and Ms. Yana Salakhova for their thought-provoking presentations.
My Delegation also takes this opportunity in order to renew its satisfaction with the reappointment of Rabbi Baker and the appointment of Prof. Grib and Prof. Senay as Personal Representatives of the Chairmanship-in-Office and welcomes them to this meeting.  The Holy See is convinced of the importance that the institution of the three Personal Representatives brings to the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination.
We are most pleased that a session has been set aside to study and discuss the root causes  and consequences of intolerance and discrimination, as without an adequate understanding of the origins and causes of the problem any attempted solution could very easily become only a partial –  or indeed an unhelpful – solution. As the emphasis of the Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings are practical and concrete, and the causes of one form of intolerance and discrimination may clarify the picture also regarding others, I would like –  albeit briefly – to touch on a root cause of discrimination and intolerance against Christians within the OSCE region. In short it may be summarized as a weakening of the freedom of religion or belief, or, to be more precise: a troubling limitation of what this fundamental freedom actually entails.

Pope Francis spoke of this worrying trend which,  while giving lip-service to freedom of religion or belief, seeks to remove religion, especially Christianity, from the public sphere, allocating it to the private, unseen and hidden one, as he said last summer  in Philadelphia:  “In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in  the  public  square,  or  to  use  religion  as  a  pretext  for  hatred  and  brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”

Particularly worrisome is the fact that across the OSCE region a sharp dividing line seems to be drawn between religious  belief and religious practice: Christians are frequently reminded in public discourse or even in the courts, that they can believe whatever they like in private, and worship as they wish in their own churches, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public. This is a deliberate twisting and limiting of what religious freedom, which holds also for Christians, actually means. This is not the freedom that was enshrined in the OSCE commitments, beginning with the Helsinki Final Act.

Another  aspect  of  this  re-interpreted  and  limited  freedom  of  religion  is  the rejection  of  the  possible  influence  of  religious  faith  and  belief  in  shaping  public discourse or policy. A Christian will, by his or her very faith, feel obliged to contribute to the common good, to  build and seek out a society that will protect the poor and the weak, educate the  young and heal the sick, as well as prevent conflict and discord. However, this too in many places is not tolerated. The media and public discourse are not always free from attitudes of intolerance and, sometimes, of actual denigration of Christians  and  members  of  other  religions,  with  Christians  being  the  easiest  target. Advocacy of “politically correct” issues all too often provides sufficient justification to label and denigrate Christians as bigoted or intolerant.

The  Holy  See  is  confident  that  this  important  SHDM  will  prove  to  be  an important step forward in defending the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Christians in the OSCE region. Discrimination against Christians, even where they are a majority, must be faced as a serious threat to the whole of society  –  and therefore should be fought without any improper or selective approach.

These  causes  and  consequences  are  nowhere  near  the  terrible  atrocities committed with impunity against Christians outside the OSCE region. However, they are a grave concern as they reflect a change in how societies perceive the freedom of religion or belief. To counteract this departure from decades of agreed commitments, it is  the firm  hope of my Delegation that this year could finally see a Ministerial Council declaration on discrimination against Christians.
Thank you, Mr. Moderator.
(from Vatican Radio)





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