OSCE Summit Looks at Anti-Christian Discrimination
Religious Freedom Stressed for Global Security
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ASTANA, Kazakhstan, DEC. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concluded its summit, which focused on religious freedom and examined topics such as discrimination against Christians.
The summit, which took place last week in Astana, included heads of government or representatives from 56 states.
The final declaration, publicized Sunday, emphasized the dignity of each person and religious freedom at the heart of the solution to global security.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI's secretary of state, represented the Holy See at the summit, where he addressed the problem of intolerance and discrimination against Christians.
He stated: "It is well documented that Christians are the most discriminated and persecuted religious group. Over 200 million of them, belonging to different denominations, live in difficult conditions because of legal and cultural structures."
Various representatives from NGOs also spoke about their concerns regarding religious freedom.
Jan Ledochowski, a delegate of the St. John Community of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Vienna, Austria, addressed the anti-Christian bias, particularly in the media.
The delegate noted, "It is the responsibility of the state and the media to create an environment where everybody can openly manifest his belief without fear of ridicule or discrimination."
Álvaro Zulueta, representative of the Spanish organization HazteOir.org, said, "Today, religious freedom is in danger in many countries."
He continued: "In some countries, believers risk their lives or their health. In other countries, they are subject to insults and mockery.
"Believers and their right to express themselves also in the public arena must be protected."
Barbara Vittucci of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe said, "To be consistent with a commitment to freedom of expression, Christians must be free to speak and teach on the Christian understanding of the dignity and nature of man, as well as matters of faith, ethics and morals."
She continued: "These freedoms are being obstructed by harassment and violence, and making it impossible to speak. Repression of freedom of expression also occurs on a political level by so-called hate speech legislation."
Mario Bergner of Redeemed Lives warned that the "over-broad application of hate-speech laws have begun to curtail the fundamental freedoms of Christian clerics, academicians, therapists and university students to apply the morality of their faith to the subject of homosexuality."
Gudrun Kugler, director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe, urged the OSCE participants "to recognize and condemn the problem of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in all its forms."
He noted, "This includes securing freedom of religion in its collective and public dimension, as well as freedom of expression -- even if this expression is unpleasant."