During the 60th session of the UN Human Rights Commission, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations offices in Geneva, warned that the increasing tendency to silence believers on public issues is a subtle form of religious intolerance.
The UN Human Rights Commission is in session from March 15 to April 23. The Vatican representative addressed the assembly on April 1 on the topics of civil and political rights and religious intolerance.
Regarding the place of religions in society, the Nuncio pointed out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights both articulates and promotes religious freedom.
“Unfortunately,” said Archbishop Tomasi, “religious freedom continues to be violated in several places and there is an added dimension today of non-State groups taking upon themselves the initiative to discriminate and even use violence against religious minorities, in many cases with impunity.”
“Places of worship and cemeteries,” he continued, “are even burned down or vandalized or desecrated; believers are threatened, attacked and even killed, and their leaders are made a special target of discrimination.”
He added that “an emerging subtle form of religious intolerance is opposing the right of religion to speak publicly on issues concerning forms of behavior that are measured against principles of a moral and religious nature.”
Archbishop Tomasi said that “while respecting a healthy sense of the State’s secular nature, the positive role of believers in public life should be recognized. This corresponds, among other things, to the demands of a healthy pluralism and contributes to the building up of authentic democracy.”