Holy See Warns Against Religious Intolerance

Expresses Concern at Growing Secularist Policies

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GENEVA, Switzerland, MARCH 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See’s representative to the United Nations is expressing concern at increased intolerance against Christians, not only in countries where the religion is a minority, but also a majority.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, said this in an address March 16 before the ordinary session of the Human Rights Council.

He noted that in many parts of the world, «religious minorities, including Christian minorities, still face daily discrimination and prejudices.»

«The Holy See expresses its concern,» said the representative, «on the increasing situations of religious intolerance and calls upon States to take all the necessary measures — educational, legal and judicial — intended to guarantee the respect of the right to freedom of religion and to protect religious minorities from discrimination.»

He referred to a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at the beginning of March in Vienna, Austria, on the topic of «Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians.»

The emphasis of this meeting, he said, was that «the denial of the rights of Christian communities is not only an issue where they form a minority, but that discrimination and intolerance may also exist where Christians are a majority in society.»

The archbishop noted that many States are «increasingly siding with a new secularist policy that aims at reducing the role of religion in public life.»

He stated that «the Holy See calls upon these States to be inclusive and to recognize the important role religions can play within society.»

«Religions,» the prelate added, «in fact, contribute to the promotion of moral and social values, which go beyond an individualistic concept of society and development, seeking the common good as well as the protection and the respect of human dignity.»

He affirmed that the freedom of expression can best be protected by «the implementation of the universal principle of freedom of religion.»

He asked that each state «look into its own national legislation» and «consider how it can encourage a frank but respectful discussion between members of the same religion, between representatives of different religions and persons who have no religious belief.»

Archbishop Tomasi continued: «One should, however, at all times keep in mind that the right to religious freedom is intrinsically related to the right to freedom of expression.

«Where followers of religions have no right to express their opinion freely, the freedom of religion is not guaranteed.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-25456?l=english

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