Vatican urges OSCE to promote religious freedom amid rising intolerance
The Holy See warns that religiously-motivated hate crimes are on the rise, as the Covid-19 pandemic increases intolerance and inequality. The Vatican representative expressed “great concern” about a divide between religious belief and religious practice.
The OSCE is an intergovernmental organization whose members include most countries of the Northern Hemisphere and is concerned with conflict prevention and crisis management.
Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk took part this week in an OSCE conference aimed at raising awareness about intolerance and discrimination. The Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe focused his remarks at the 25-26 May event on the impact that intolerance has on Christians.
Hate crimes against Christians and members of other religions, said, Msgr. Urbańczyk, negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “These include threats, violent attacks, murders and profanation of churches and places of worship, cemeteries and other religious properties,” he said.
The Vatican representative expressed “great concern” about a divide between religious belief and religious practice. “The false idea that religions could have a negative impact or represent a threat to the well-being of our societies is growing,” he warned.
Believers are frequently told that prayer and religious convictions are a private matter that have no place in the public sphere.
“Rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Msgr. Urbańczyk, “have been limited or derogated throughout the whole OSCE area.” These include the closure of churches and restrictions on religious services.
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