Friday, September 16, 2011

Discrimination against Christianity

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for external Church relations, gave an address at the opening session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) high-level meeting on anti-Christian violence. Here are salient points of his talk:

"If in Europe, and in the OSCE region, voices can be heard against the presence of Christian symbols in public life, and there are signs of other forms of an intolerant attitude towards Christians, then this is a good occasion to think upon the reasons for such things. There is a simple axiom, understandable to every educated European. European civilization is a culture that has developed on a Christian foundation. Today Europe, and indeed the entire OSCE region, has acquired a clearly expressed multicultural nature, having become a place of contact between peoples and religions from all over the world. Yet, does this mean that the cultural and religious diversity of Europe definitely threatens her Christian roots? Not at all. The real threat is not in offering to the continent’s new religious and national communities the chance to make use of Christian hospitality. The basic danger is in attempting to use religious diversity as an excuse to exclude signs of Christian civilization from the public and political realities of the continent, as though this would make our continent friendlier towards non-Christians. I am convinced that society, which has renounced its spiritual heritage under the pretext of the radical separation of religious life from public life, becomes vulnerable to the spirit of enmity in relation to representatives of any religion. This indeed does create an atmosphere of intolerance in relation to Christians, as well as to representatives of other traditional religions."

"...Organizations in the OSCE countries responsible for notifying the public about cases of Christianophobia regularly report cases of persecution of Christians who criticize social evils, albeit that they are legally recognized. For example, clergy and lay believers who criticize homosexuality as sinful often face public ostracism or severe discrimination. Statutory guarantees of freedom of speech laid down in international law are always ignored in such cases.

"Christians in the OSCE region are consistently attacked because of their position on abortion and euthanasia. Opponents not only fail to see that behind their false justifications lie the deprivation of human life, but they also question Christians’ right to present their views and their democratic efforts to have them reflected in European legislation. It has been an encouragement and inspiration to see the recent recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe upholding the right to conscientious objection for medical workers who refuse to take part in such operations. I hope that refusal on grounds of conscientious objection will be an accepted approach in the educational and in public service spheres."

ZENIT - Russian Orthodox Church on Discrimination Against Christianity

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