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Vatican officials decry global persecution of Christians

By on Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (Photo: CNS)

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (Photo: CNS)

Thousands of Christians are killed each year because of their faith, while millions more face bigotry and marginalisation, a Vatican official has said.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the Human Rights Council that “credible research” by Massimo Introvigne, a former representative of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians, “has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more that 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year.”

Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to UN agencies in Geneva, also added: “In some western countries, where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that trends to marginalise Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.”

During a meeting in Tirana, Albania, Bishop Mario Toso, the secretary of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that “examples of intolerance and discrimination against Christians have not diminished, but rather increased.”

Bishop Mario Toso, addressing the OSCE in Europe’s high-level conference on tolerance and non-discrimination, said that throughout all 57 nations in Europe “a sharp dividing line has been drawn between religious belief and religious practice.” He insisted on the fact that Christians’ beliefs and worship is tolerated only when it is “inside church walls, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public.”

  • $20596475

    “Bishop Mario Toso insisted on the fact that Christians’ beliefs and worship is tolerated only when it is “inside church walls, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public.””

    A clear example of the persecution complex which befuddles this debate. It just isn’t true. Who on earth is going to object to a Christian practicing their belief in charity and helping the poor and disadvantaged?

    However, if anyone tries to do something which conflicts with someone else’s rights then there might be a problem.

    We now live in a society in which there are competing rights. Tolerance, restraint and respect for other views are therefore essential. Just complaining when “yours” have been affected is to be blind to this fact.

  • James M

    There is a genuine problem here – but has it been diagnosed precisely enough ?

    The same results come from a variety of causes, so we should not be too eager to say that because people who are Christians are the objects of ill-treatment, therefore they are ill-treated because they are Christians. People of a particular religion – or of any kind of group -may be attacked for any number of reasons; it does not follow that because members of a group defined by religion are attacked, they are attacked because of religion; religion (which may or more not co-incide with race, age, sex, & other qualities) can be a pretext for ill-will, not a reason – as happened in Rwanda in 1994. And it does not follow that because people are attacked, they – or the group they belong to – have not earned the odium which brings the attack on them. To be attacked does not imply either blamelessness or innocence; the suffering of mass murderers is real enough, but it’s not exactly undeserved.

    Also to be considered is the POV of those who deal out the ill-treatment. If a group’s ideas are perceived as a danger to the religious or social health of a community, the group may well be attacked. The Church affirms both that political authority is from God, and that her own is – so when the State, to protect itself & its subjects, attacks Christians on the ground that Christianity is anti-social or positively malign, there is problem. The Church cannot demand that non-Christian rulers should have the grace of faith in order to see that Christianity is not malign – and it cannot unsay the doctrine has taught. So the Church’s position means that collisions can occur between different parts of its teaching. If the Emperor Nero cannot have the gift of faith except by God’s grace; and if the authority of the Roman Empire is God-given; and if the CC is Divinely founded; and if its members are regarded as malign & criminal, and if one purpose of the temporal power (in this case, the Roman Empire, during the principate of Nero Caesar) is to repress crime; then there are the conditions for a collision between what the Church herself regards as goods.

    Because he lacks faith, a persecuting Emperor cannot be regarded as an enemy of Christianity considered as a good thing; he is persecuting it, not because he sees it is good and is a hater of good, but because he sees it as a bad thing, which needs to be repressed. Persecution does not necessarily imply malice – rulers are entirely capable of persecuting others precisely because they are upright & virtuous rulers. It is their virtues – not their vices – that lead them to do what is unjust. No analysis of persecution that leaves out such possibilities is complete or fair-minded, for it will be leaving out one of the causes of what its authors object to. For this reason, it is essential to be absolutely clear why something is regarded as persecution – for the use of the concept raises a great many questions.

    A problem like this, because it is real and widespread, must not be treated in a partisan & self-serving way. That it has been, for almost 2,000 years, is a good reason to avoid such attitudes in the future.

  • James M

    “Bishop Mario Toso insisted on the fact that Christians’ beliefs and worship is tolerated only when it is “inside church walls, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public.””

    A complication is that Catholic governments used to adopt exactly the same approach. Spanish & Maltese Protestants (and Protestants in other countries) had to live within the same constraints. And this approach was Catholic doctrine – in theory, it still is: Dignitatis Humanae was explicit on the point. In practice, the doctrine has been discarded, and the teaching of the CC emphasises its new doctrine, that reduces the old to rubble. The Church claims to respect the cultutes of other countries – does it not occur to this chap that Catholics are not allowed to “act on [their] beliefs in public”, because letting them do so would conflict with the culture of the State ? Some people don’t Muslims to come to Britain – why should all states allow Catholics both to be present, & to “act on [their] beliefs in public” ? The logic that sustains reasoning the CC uses when arguing for what it approves of, cannot be laid aside when the same logic produces unwelcome conclusions.

    The only way for the CC to complain of those states who do to Catholics what Catholic states (following the very clear teaching of the CC) used to do, without the Catholic complainants seeming to act in what looks like a superbly hypocritical way, that I can see, is to assume that if X is done by the CC, it is good – whereas it is bad if done by an authority with a differing ideology. On this theory, for Catholics to impose restraints on Protestants is legitimate & virtuous – even pious; but for Protestants to do the same Catholics, would be illegitimate, vicious, & impious. Why ? Presumably because Catholicism is the True Religion: and it is persecution to harm or impede the TR, but not persecution in any way for the TR to come down hard on on non-TRs. It could in fact be a very virtuous act to restrain, impede & suppress non-TRs.

    It’s very interesting to see how scraps of ideas no longer held in their entirety linger on in the presuppositions made by people who adhere to ideas that replace the older ones.

    “We now live in a society in which there are competing rights. Tolerance, restraint and respect for other views are therefore essential. Just complaining when “yours” have been affected is to be blind to this fact.”

    ## Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the ideas & notions needed for thinking about society have become so full of partisan and competing meanings, and tribalism is now so widespread, that it is almost impossible to have a reasoned discussion on such matters. To make things worse, words are often used in a sense that is so slanted or over-extended (or diluted in some other way) that they are becoming useless. “Liberal” is one, “fundamentalist” shows signs of being another, “rights” is another. The vandalisation of language leads to incoherence of expression, and incoherence in thought.

  • NatOns

    “The Church claims to respect the cultures of other countries – does it not occur to this chap that Catholics are not allowed to “act on [their] beliefs in public”, because letting them do so would conflict with the culture of the State ?”

    The Catholic Church is not an earthly country, nor the purveyor of a worldly national culture, let alone some amorphous collection of like-minded protests; it is the body of Christ, the Lord our God, Jesus in Person, present among all peoples, every type of state, and any form of culture on earth (or outside it). It does – and always has – had a respect for the culture of the peoples in which it, as a body, witnesses .. Jew and Greek, Roman and barbarian, democratic and tyrannical .. showing love toward all men of good will. Nonetheless, when good will is dropped for aggressive strife, or mere protest against the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church becomes the culture, this work of the Accuser must be opposed (and he does not take kindly to such a challenge, having made of himself a ‘god’ before God: as man does still in his wayward image today).

    “Thousands of Christians are killed each year because of their faith, while millions more face bigotry and marginalisation, a Vatican official has said.”

    This is no news, and is only surprising to those who assume – falsely – that ideas such as Truth, the Devil, heresy and judgement are mere throwbacks to a backward and unprogressive/ unenlightened, inhumane age (sic). Error, notwithstanding, has no rights to assert among men of good will because it is, of itself, not right – after all, seeking to make all things equally wrong can never make them all right. And this divinely revealed measure of right from wrong – moral reason, good will and common humanity – is binding on all men, Christian and Muslim, Hindu and atheist. .. even for protesters who seek to protest against it (whether they like to submit to its pressure or not).

    “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, wherefore persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the goad.” Acts 9 : 3-5.

  • Peter

    That 100,000 people are killed every year for being Christian is a tragedy. But the Church is the Church of the human race and not just of Catholics or of Christians.

    How many Muslims have been killed by Hindus and Buddhists, and how many Hindus and Buddhists by Muslims? And within Islam itself, how many Shias have been killed by Sunnis and vice versa?

    The tragedy is that millions are killed in this world because of their religion. An atheist would say that religion is clearly a force of evil. But they forget the alternative which would be a godless world where man would be a dispensable commodity, resulting in deaths approaching the hundreds if not thousands of millions.

  • Gregory Nearing

    Shameful behavior from the Europeans who consistently deny European christian any right to speech or conscience and who have created the culture of self blame in order to appease Muslims who couldn’t give a fig about European values or the secular leftists who simply wish to forget christian suffering because it will destroy their self righteous nature intellectual liberal elite hogwash that has been drowning the western world for the past 40 years.