Holy See Representative Decries Rising Tide of Intolerance Against Christians and Other Faiths

Bishop Mario Toso Calls on OSCE Members To Guarantee Religious Freedom For All

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves | 901 hits

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called on members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to act on the rising tide of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe.

Bishop Mario Toso addressed the OSCE last Tuesday at the Conference on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination (Including Human Rights Youth Education) held in Tirana, Albania. The Italian prelate addressed the second plenary session which dealt with the fighting intolerance against Christians and those of other faiths.

Recalling the previous conference held three years ago, Bishop Toso reminded the participants of the commitments made by OSCE states to combating against "prejudice, discrimination, intolerance and violence against Christians and members of other religions, including minority religions."

"Unfortunately, examples of intolerance and discrimination against Christians have not diminished but rather increased in various parts of the OSCE region despite a number of meetings and conferences on the subject organized also by the OSCE and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)," Bishop Toso said.

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace also stated that Christians are increasingly placed in positions where religious beliefs and religious practice are sharply divided. Bishop Toso called such tactics as a "deliberate twisting and limiting of what religious freedom actually means."

Such limitations, he continued, "is not the freedom that was enshrined in international documents" such as "the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, stretching through the 1989 Final Vienna Document and the 1990 Copenhagen Document, and including the 2010 Astana Summit Commemorative Declaration."

Concluding his address to OSCE members, Bishop Toso appealed to them to guarantee the end of such discriminatory tactics against Christians, thus allowing them to speak freely on issues "that the government or others may find disagreeable and act on their consciences in the workplace and elsewhere."

Discrimination against Christians, "Bishop Toso concluded, 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."

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On ZENIT's web page

For the full text of Bishop Toso's address, go to: 

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/bishop-mario-toso-s-address-at-the-high-level-conference-on-tolerance-and-non-discrimination