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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vatican Official: Discrimination Against Christians Should Be Opposed Just As Firmly As Anti-Semitism And Islamophobia

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretariat of State issued a tweet on Monday: “Intolerance against Christians, especially in the name of ‘tolerance’, should be condemned publicly.”

The tweet referenced a Statement of the Holy See delivered by Bishop Mario Toso, SDB, at the High Level Conference on Tolerance and Non-discrimination (including Human Rights Youth Education), which took place May 21-22 in Tirana, Albania.

The Conference was held under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Since the last High Level Conference, Bishop Toso said, “examples of intolerance and discrimination against Christians have not diminished, but rather increased in various parts of the OSCE region.”

Bishop Toso denounced attempt to divide religious belief from religious practice. Christians, he said, are told “they can believe whatever they like in their own homes or heads, and largely worship as they wish in their own private churches, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public.” This distinction, he went on, “is a deliberate twisting and limiting of what religious freedom actually means.”

In the Holy See’s statement, Bishop Toso identified two particular areas of intolerance against Christians: intolerance of Christian speech, and intolerance with regard to Christian conscience, particularly in the workplace. Discrimination against Christians, he said, “even where they are a majority – must be faced as a serious threat to the whole of society – and therefore should be fought, as it is done, and rightly so, in the case of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

Bishop Toso said, “Intolerance in the name of ‘tolerance’ must be named for what it is and publically condemned. To deny religiously informed moral argument a place in the public square is intolerant and anti-democratic.”

He concluded by saying, “As for the prevention and response to intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes against Christians, [the Holy See] Delegation believes that it should be seen in close connection with the promotion of religious freedom. The right to believe in God and to practice that belief is a fundamental human right, one that is central to the OSCE commitments.”

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