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Vatican official says 100,000 Christians are killed each year because of their faith

By on Monday, 3 June 2013

Bishop Uzoukwu of Minna, Nigeria, at a funeral for victims of a Christmas church bombing (Photo: CNS)

Bishop Uzoukwu of Minna, Nigeria, at a funeral for victims of a Christmas church bombing (Photo: CNS)

More than 100,000 Christians are killed each year because of their faith, and millions more face bigotry, intolerance and marginalisation because of their beliefs, a Vatican official has said.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to US agencies in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council that “credible research” by Massimo Introvigne, a former representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians, “has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year”.

In addition, he said, “in some Western countries, where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends 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”.

But in fact, Archbishop Tomasi said, “The Christian religion, as other faith communities,” serves the true good of humanity by educating members in their human dignity, their rights and responsibilities toward others and in serving their communities and the poor with schools, hospitals, homes for the aged, work in refugee camps and other acts of charity.

During a meeting in Tirana, Albania, last month, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said: “Examples of intolerance and discrimination against Christians have not diminished, but rather increased” in member-states of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.

Bishop Mario Toso, addressing the OSCE’s high-level conference on tolerance and non-discrimination, said that across the 57 nations “a sharp dividing line has been drawn between religious belief and religious practice”, in a way that tells Christians they can believe whatever they want and worship however they would like inside the walls of their churches, “but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public”.

The bishop said there has been a “deliberate twisting and limiting of what religious freedom actually means”, an interpretation which claims to promote tolerance for all people, but in fact tells Christians that they cannot wear symbols of their faith, publicly uphold traditional teachings on sexual morality and marriage and conscientiously object at work to procedures that violate the tenets of their faith.

“Intolerance in the name of ‘tolerance’ must be named for what it is and publically condemned,” Bishop Toso said. “To deny religiously informed moral argument a place in the public square is intolerant and anti-democratic.”

  • D C Melton

    ask God to raise up more saints with the spirit that Daniel had.

  • Yuri Koszarycz

    This is a sobering statistic. “Intolerance” is the key cause for inter-religious suspicion, hatred and violence. The teachings of all sacred texts which include the Vedas, the Qu’ran, and the Old and New Testaments urge a respect for strangers and an acceptance of differences. Christians are taught to “love and forgive their enemies” but the teachings of all faiths are not dissimilar. Unfortunately, cultural and spiritual differences so often lead to rejection of the other. The earliest persecuted Christians converted many by their actions: “See how they love each other”. Such behavior was the result of Jesus’ words: “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35). The early Christians were known for their actions of mercy, charity, caring for others; they were not just seen as a spiritual community of pious people waiting for their salvation but as a counter witness of Christ to the world around them. Perhaps this present time of persecution is a time and an opportunity to live out this Christ-like imperative.

  • PaulF

    With great respect Yuri, the teachings of other religions are not similar to faith in Christ. The idea of a crucified God could not even have been imagined if it had not happened in history. Likewise for Jesus’ teachings, such as ‘Love your enemies,’ and the words he spoke in John 14-19. They are utterly unique, utterly without substitute.

  • Julian Lord

    Sorry, but though this sort of syncretist relativism may have been very popular in the 1970s, it only leads down to the intellectual and cultural dead end of supermarketised, multi-nationally homogenised, consumerist nihilism.

    Religious mysticism may have some universal qualities, that are found in all of the major religions, but it is a big mistake to deduce from there that the more culturally determined practices of these religions are therefore secondary and somehow unimportant ; whereas they are primary, and central.

    Furthermore, your claim that “the teachings of all sacred texts which include the Vedas, the Qu’ran, and the Old and New Testaments urge a respect for strangers and an acceptance of differences” cannot be meaningfully substantiated.

    Buddhism may teach these things (for reasons fundamentally different to those of Christianity), and Judaism to some extent, but Islam most certainly does not teach “acceptance” of differences (given that the focus of Islam is on strict rules of public behaviour), nor any blanket “respect” for strangers (whose freedoms it seeks to repress wherever they are contrary to sharia).

  • Yuri Koszarycz

    The Qur’an calls for respecting and extending a helping hand to all
    strangers: “And worship God [alone], and do not ascribe divinity, in any
    way, to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents, and near of
    kin, and unto orphans, and the needy, and the neighbor from among your
    own people, and the neighbor who is a stranger, and the friend by your
    side, and the wayfarer, …” (4:36). Any person with whom we come in
    contact, whether a stranger or not, must be treated with respect and

    By the way, I am not a Muslim but I have taught theology at a Catholic University for 35 years. I may suggest that you read the Vatican II document ‘Nostra Aetate” which delineates how we should treat persons of other faith.

  • Yuri Koszarycz

    Well I’m sorry to say that you are wrong here! :-) just a couple of quotes re “loving your enemies” –

    “Do not return evil to your adversary; Requite with kindness the one who
    does evil to you, Maintain justice for your enemy, Be friendly to your
    - Akkadian Councils of Wisdom (from the ancient Babylonian civilization that existed two millennia before Jesus was born)

    “Shame on him who strikes, greater shame on him who strikes back. Let us
    live happily, not hating those who hate us. Let us therefore overcome
    anger by kindness, evil by good, falsehood by truth. Do not hurt others
    in ways that would be hurtful to yourself.”
    - Buddhist wisdom (written centuries before Jesus was born)

    “Return love for hatred. Otherwise, when a great hatred is reconciled,
    some of it will surely remain. How can this end in goodness? Therefore
    the sage holds to the left hand of an agreement but does not expect what
    the other holder ought to do. Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own
    and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. Whoever is self-centered
    cannot have the love of others.”
    - Taoist wisdom (written centuries before Jesus was born)

  • Julian Lord

    Well, I was certainly right about which intellectual generation you belong to then, with all due respect.

    HH Benedict XVI has pointed out the nature of some flaws that are found in Nostra Aetate — but the question was not about how we are to treat those belonging to other religions, but about your claim that the Catholic virtues in question might be adhered to by those religions.

  • PaulF

    If the religions you recommend are as divinely inspired as you seem to think they are, perhaps you can explain why they have spent two thousand years resisting the True Light after it has come into the world.

  • Yuri Koszarycz

    Maybe they didn’t recognise it because of the way Christians and Catholics behaved in the past! I suggest a careful reading of this site:

  • PaulF

    The three Magi could have made that excuse if they wanted Yuri. They ran into Herod and his seedy court on their search for the New King. They were not put off by wicked men. They followed the New Star all the way to the stable at Bethlehem, and when they got there, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy and they went in and worshipped him (Matthew 2:10,11).
    That is what all the religions are called to do. If they do it, they prove that they were good in the first place. If they don’t, they prove the opposite.
    I’m not making this up. This is how 1 John 4:1-4 tells us to test the spirits to see if they are of God,

  • PaulF

    Nothing more from the eloquent pen of Yuri?
    It is deeply saddening when talented people devote their lives to a mistaken search for some kind of equalization between the spirits of Antichrist and the One who was sent from the heart of the Father to give us a real future and a real hope. There is no comparison whatever between them. The very term ‘interfaith’ contains the falsehood that there can be faith in other spirits similar to biblical faith in Christ.
    I cannot judge such people harshly, having myself fallen prey to that kind of thinking in the past. I have recovered, glory to the only God, and I pray that all who have been deceived in this will also return to the life giving truth as it is written in the word of God.

  • TimF

    It seems the Archbishop (who is an observer to UN agencies, not US agencies) may have given undue credence to a statement which seems to have been based on faulty analysis and estimation. This morning’s Radio 4 Sunday programme reported that the true figure is probably no more than 10,000. This report was edited down from another Radio 4 programme, More or Less .