Holy See: Rising restrictions on religion affect more than 2 billion people



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ABSTRACT Holy See: Rising restrictions on religion affect more than 2 billion people. News.va English Español Français Italiano KEEPING IN TOUCH Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Flickr Home Fides News Agency L’Osservatore Romano Press Office Vatican Information Service Vatican Radio CTV Holy See: Rising restrictions on religion affect more than 2 billion people. 2012-03-02 Vatican Radio The Holy See Delegation has addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on the subject of religious freedom. Archbishop Silvano M.Tomasi said in many countries “the gap is growing between widely accepted stated principles, and their daily application on the ground.” He pointed out “rising restrictions on religion affect more than 2.2 billion people.” Archbishop Tomasi also told the Council “religions are not a threat, but a resource. They contribute to the development of civilizations, and this is good for everyone.” Listen to the full interview by Sergio Centofanti with Archbishop Tomasi: Below is the full text of his remarks to the Human Rights Council: Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 19 th Session of the Human Rights Council – High Level Segment March 1, 2012 Madam President, The implementation of human rights is a difficult challenge today, particularly with regard to the fundamental and inalienable right of every person to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.” Among other elements, the evolving political situation, wrong perceptions of the role of religion, expediency, and subtle ambiguities in the understanding of secularism lead to intolerance and even outright persecution of people because of their faith or religion. The freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance, which is guaranteed by human rights law and international instruments, is disregarded in several places in the world. Such stifling policies and practices place at risk the contribution of many citizens to social life and progress in their respective countries. The Holy See appreciates the regular attention of the Human Rights Council to this major issue as well as the related efforts and decisions taken by Special Procedures. In many countries, however, the gap is growing between widely accepted stated principles, and their daily application on the ground. Serious research provides reliable data on current and repetitive patterns of gross violations of the right to freedom of religion. Christians are not the only victims, but terrorist attacks on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and Asia increased 309% between 2003 and 2010. Approximately 70% of the world’s population lives in countries with high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices, and religious minorities pay the highest price. In general, rising restrictions on religion affect more than 2.2 billion people. The affected people either have lost the protection of their societies or have experienced some government-imposed and unjust restrictions, or have become victims of violence resulting from an impulsive bigotry. The evidence shows that additional efforts are required from the international community in order to assure the protection of people in their exercise of freedom of religion and religious practice. Such actions are urgently required since in several countries the situation is worsening and since the factual reporting of such violations is underplayed, despite the fact, it should be highlighted in the pertinent Reports. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights points to respect for the human dignity of all people as the foundation on which the protection of human rights is built. In the present circumstances, it is worth recalling that States should ensure that all their citizens have the right to enjoy freedom of religion individually, within the family, and as a community, and to participate in the public square. Religious freedom, in fact, is not a derived right, or one granted, but a fundamental and inalienable right of the human person. A religious belief should not be perceived or considered as harmful or offensive simply because it is different from that of the majority. The task of the Government is not to define religion or recognize its value, but to confer upon faith communities a juridical personality so that they can function peacefully within a legal framework. Respect for the religious freedom of everyone may be at stake in places where the concept of “State religion” is recognized, especially when the latter becomes the source of unjust treatment of others, whether they believe in other faiths or have none. Above the institutional considerations, the critical problem facing the promotion and protection human rights in the area of religious freedom is the intolerance that leads to .......