Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, called on the UN’s Human Rights Council for greater protection of Christians who face discrimination and attacks. Archbishop Tomasi made his address on Monday during the council’s Interactive Dialogue in Geneva.
“The serious violations of the right to freedom of religion in general and the recent continuing discrimination and systematic attacks inflicted on some Christian communities in particular, deeply concern the Holy See and many democratic Governments whose population embrace various religious and cultural traditions,” Archbishop Tomasi.
The archbishop decried the alarming statistics which estimate that over 100,000 Christians are violently killed each year for their faith. Others, he continued, are either forcibly displaced, raped, tortured, and kidnapping of their religious, such as in Syria where two Bishops were abducted over a month ago in Aleppo.
On April 22, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek-Orthodox Bishop Boulos al-Yazigi were kidnapped by unknown abductors during a humanitarian mission. There is still no word on the prelates whereabouts.
“Several of these acts have been perpetrated in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the fruit of bigotry, intolerance, terrorism and some exclusionary laws,” Archbishop Tomasi noted. “In addition, in some Western countries where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.”
Citing the Human Rights Council recognition of religion has a valid contributor to the “inherent dignity and worth of the human person,” Archbishop Tomasi that the services the Church provides in the world, particularly in the areas of education, charity and health care, “doesn’t call for discrimination against Christians,”
Concluding his address, Archbishop Tomasi thanked the various delegations who spoke out in the session in defense of religious freedom and those who have been targeted for their faith. Quoting Pope Francis’s words on the 17th Centennial Anniversary of the Edict of Milan, Archbishop Tomasi stated his hope that “civil authorities everywhere respect the right to publicly express one’s faith and to accept without prejudice the contribution that Christianity continues to offer to the culture and society of our time.”
— — —
On ZENIT’s webpage:
For the full text of Archbishop Tomasi’s address, go to: