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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vatican diplomat: Religious prejudice in media, public debate on rise

Governments need to report, condemn and address all forms of discrimination against Christians, including intolerance shown in the media and public debates, said a Vatican diplomat.

“The peaceful contribution of religion to public life seems not only to be rejected, but also contested” in many areas, said Mgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Vatican’s permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

And wherever “fundamental freedoms are questioned, security also can be endangered,” he said during a special conference in Vienna on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians across the OSCE region, which includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America. He made three different speeches on the topic during the course of the day’s many sessions.

Mgr Urbanczyk said that even though the OSCE region does not see “blatant and violent persecution” of Christians like in some parts of the world, “manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase,” he said.

In addition, he said, “offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.”

Picture: Christian pilgrims light candles at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank on 11th December. (CNS photo/Abed Al Hashlamoun, EPA).