In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano, Italian politician Mario Mauro said he sees the prevention of discrimination against Christians as an important aspect of his new role in the European Union.

In the interview, Mauro, who is vice president of the European Parliament, said that in assuming his new role at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), religion will play a part. “Although no political problem can be resolved with religion, it is also true that no political problem can be resolved going against religion,” he said.

Mauro went on to state that the situation for Christians is most complicated in “Caucasian areas and in the countries of the East.”

“In the countries of the former Communist block the problem is centered upon when and how to return the goods and property that belong to the religious communities of these countries, in the nations of the European Union, we find the problem is discrimination, probably more subtle—but often more consistent—which has to do with the right of considering the expression of faith as a factor in public life, and not simply as a private act.”

Commenting on the dominance of secularism and relativism in Europe, Mauro said, “We are often made to think that both serve to combat intolerance. But if we forget that the religious dimension sees man as the potent factor in the realization of humanity, we run the risk of falling into intolerance ourselves.  And this is a very important fact which influences the relationship between religions.”

After noting that in many areas of the Middle East Christianity is identified with the West, Mauro pointed out that “in reality in those countries Christian communities have more ancient origins that in the current religious majorities.”

Overall, Mauro described discrimination against Christians “in the context of the countries that belong to the OSCE, and in particular those of the West,” as resulting from “a prejudice that in time becomes more established and ends up becoming a sort of secularism.”