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Cardinal says Christians face discrimination in many forms

By on Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone celebrates a mass to mark the 50th anniversary of his ministry . (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone celebrates a mass to mark the 50th anniversary of his ministry . (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The international community must begin fighting discrimination against Christians with the same determination it shows in opposing intolerance and discrimination against members of other religious groups, said the Vatican secretary of state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, on December 1: “It has been widely documented that Christians are the most persecuted and discriminated against religious group. More than 200 million of them, belonging to different confessions, find themselves in difficulty because of legal and cultural structures.”

The cardinal addressed top officials of 56 countries represented at the organization’s summit meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Vatican released the text of his speech.

Members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe include European countries, the United States and Canada, Turkey, Russia and the Central Asian republics that once were part of the Soviet Union.

“Religious life, an important factor for the social and culture life of countries, is threatened not only by oppressive restrictions, but also by relativism and a false secularism that excludes religion from public life,” the cardinal told summit participants.

Cardinal Bertone said an OSCE study in 2009 found evidence of anti-Christian discrimination “in different forms within the entire area” of the organization’s membership.

“In some countries, there are still intolerant and discriminatory laws, decisions, behaviors, actions and omissions” that deny full religious freedom for Christians, he said.

“Recurring episodes of violence, and even the assassination of Christians, has been registered,” he said in a reference that apparently included the killing of a priest in Turkey in 2006 and a bishop there in June.

“Excessive restrictions remain on the registration of churches and religious communities,” he said, apparently referring to some parts of the former Soviet Union.

In other places, the cardinal said, there are signs of “illegitimate interference” in the organization and operation of faith-based agencies, which have a right to be free “to act in a manner consistent with their moral convictions.”

“The international community must combat intolerance and discrimination against Christians with the same determination that it battles hatred for members of other religious communities,” Cardinal Bertone said.

  • Ratbag

    I would not be surprised if the UK and USA are amongst the countries mentioned in this report.

  • Auricularis

    So is the cardinal telling us that after 40 years of bending over backwards and wishing a happy Ramadam, since Vatican II, that the “religion of peace”™ – that also worships the same 'God' as us, is still persecuting Christians?!

  • GFFM

    All I can say is this. In the US, Christians in public life, and especially academic life have to be very careful about what they say and who they support. Right now undergraduates, especially in the middle of the country, are amenable to hearing about religion, the academics find this reprehensible. The issue of so called gay marriage has made the anti-Christianity more intense and I have no doubt the bigotry will continue–not by the majority, but by a very small minority.

  • thomaspoovathinkal

    Repent and believe in the GOOD NEWS; this is a must for all Christians. When this is done they will all be united. The Christian heads will not be subtle politicians; rather they will all be APOSTLES. Did they not inherit the offices of THE APOSTLES? Then why are they mere leaders and performers of mere dead rituals? THE WORD OF GOD will be their first concern and the SPIRIT OF JESUS will be their LEADER and GUIDE and everything will go well with them.

  • Aloysius Gonzaga

    I go to University in Thailand and I can see that unbeliever students especially from West and Europe are not having basic respect towards religion.Sometimes, offense words or jokes are brought up to Christian students.With very basic respect among religions and unbelievers would reduce conflicts.Thus,lack of respect will be the major issue.