Religious Discrimination a Wound, Says Prelate

Urges Protection of Muslims, Jews and Christians

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BUCAREST, Romania, JUNE 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Discrimination against religions is an "open wound" in society, a Holy See representative said at the opening session of a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.



Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told the 56-state organization that the meeting of religions and cultures is a topic of "prime importance" in today's world, "and one that is certainly not just the business of theology."

"Thus the question of the interaction of cultures, and peace and respect for religions, has today become a political and security consideration of utmost importance," he said in his June 7 intervention. "Ultimately it is a question of how we relate to one another peacefully and how we contribute to the education and advancement of the human race.

"Anti-Semitism is a tragic violation of human dignity and the Shoah is a crime that has tainted the history of the human race.

"Discrimination against Muslims too is a grave offense to their human dignity and to the exercise of their right to freedom of religion."

The 63-year-old bishop said that Benedict XVI has often spoken out against "both phenomena, as well as persistent episodes of intolerance and discrimination directed against Christians."

The Holy See representative encouraged the organization to "avoid placing these three 'open wounds' in a sort of hierarchy: Each of them 'hurts' men and women, degrades their human dignity and, therefore, must be 'cured' with solicitude."

Bishop Farrell told the organization members that its work would only be effective if carried out with the same determination in each of the three areas of discrimination.

"In fact," he said, "if the organization and its participating states are not committed to adopting all those measures necessary to guarantee Christians the full exercise and enjoyment of their right to religious freedom, then, paradoxically, they will be discriminated against in their very fight against discrimination!"

It would be a mistake, the Vatican official continued, "to judge the patrimony of faith of the three monotheistic religions with a relativistic mentality, viewing them with the precarious and ever-changing parameters of political equilibrium, instead of connecting them to the timeless measuring rod of truth and the centrality of human dignity."