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Church leaders welcome EU move to tie aid to religious freedom

By on Thursday, 27 June 2013

European Union flags wave in Brussels (AP)

European Union flags wave in Brussels (AP)

Christian leaders in Europe have welcomed a commitment by the European Union to make financial help for countries around the world conditional on their protection of religious freedom.

The Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, (Comece) said that action was needed “given the systematic and increasing violations of freedom of religion by some governments and non-state actors”.

It said the new EU guidelines provide “an operational set of tools to be used in relations with third countries … designed to protect all individual believers and religious communities”.

The Council of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council adopted “Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief” on June 24. Linking EU aid to protection of religious rights was one of 11 policy recommendations by Comece in 2010.

The non-Catholic Conference of European Churches, which said its representatives had helped draft the guidelines, also welcomed the European Union taking steps to make “freedom of religion or belief … a priority in its foreign policy”.

“Churches will continue to monitor the implementation and evaluation of these guidelines to ensure they are used effectively to combat violations and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the conference said.

Calls for tougher action to combat anti-religious violence and discrimination, especially against Christians, have mounted in the 785-seat European Parliament and other institutions.

In its guidelines, the EU said free exercise of the fundamental right to religious freedom “contributes to democracy, development, rule of law, peace and stability,” whereas violations often constituted “early indicators of potential violence and conflicts.”

It added that the EU was “impartial and not aligned with any specific religion or belief,” but was concerned that religious rights abuses were now widespread and complex “in all parts of the world, including Europe,” in violation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international treaties.

  • LocutusOP

    That’s an interesting development – and the last thing I would have expected to be honest.

  • la Catholic state

    What about religious freedom for Christians here in Europe. The EU doesn’t seem too keen on religious freedom under its own nose. Shocking images coming out of France…..and a Mayor who refuses to assist at gay ‘marriages’ faces 5 years in jail! So much for religious freedom for European Christians then.

    Disturbing images from France which the mainstream media is ignoring….

  • LocutusOP

    That’s why I find this declaration so interesting…When they write “including Europe”, do they mean that sort of thing? If not, what type of religious freedom do they mean?

    If they do, then what does it mean for European governments which fail to respect religious freedom?

    If what they mean is mere ‘freedom of worship’ then the recommendations are virtually pointless.

  • la Catholic state

    Like a lot of things that come out of the EU, it is probably meaningless. Our religious freedom will be pitted against ‘gay rights’…..and you know who is going to win that.
    Depending on the EU to protect Christians (home or abroad)….is not advisable! Unless the Christian influence grows in the EU (as Pope Benedict hoped, and as we pray)….then their declarations are not to be trusted; as the Churches will find out to their cost.

  • PaulF

    The EU is “impartial and not aligned with any specific religion or belief.”
    Not true. Secularism is a belief system, and secularists take pig headed positions.
    The only impartial position is the acceptance of truth.
    If you think you are more ‘impartial’ than Christ, you are already lined up with Satan.
    Scripture puts this with beautiful clarity:
    ‘There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel,
    against the Lord’ – Proverbs 21:30.

  • Julian Lord

    If what they mean is mere ‘freedom of worship’ then the recommendations are virtually pointless

    Locutus, the recommendations specifically mention the public freedom to establish “religious … charities”.

  • LocutusOP

    The problem is that the current EU charter already grants rather broad religious freedoms on paper…In practice though these rights are trampled upon at every opportunity.

    What the document reads is one thing, what it means will only be evident later on.

  • la Catholic state

    As Christ said,……’Those who are not for Me….are against Me’.
    There’s a lot to be said for Christians fending for ourselves and our fellow persecuted Christians. We would be fools to expect much from secularists….as we are shortly going to find out.

  • Julian Lord

    … yes … :-(