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Vatican diplomat highlights growing religious intolerance

A young girl lights a candle at a Marian Grotto in Pakistan Credit Magdalena Wolnik CNA 12 17 14 A young girl lights a candle at a Marian grotto in Pakistan. / Magdalena Wolnik.

A Vatican diplomat highlighted Thursday the “ever-growing intolerance and discrimination against Christians, Jews, Muslims and members of other religions.”

Addressing the permanent council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna Jan. 14, Fr. Janusz S. Urbańczyk said he hopes the council will devote close attention to the problem.

“In so doing, we recommend that the Swedish Chairmanship should adopt an approach that, while being comprehensive and addressing cross-cutting issues, acknowledges the specificity of such forms of intolerance and discrimination and addresses the specific needs of targeted communities without showing bias or preferential selectivity among them,” the Catholic priest and permanent representative of the Holy See said.

Urbańczyk also urged the OSCE to be wary of giving preference to some human rights over others.

He noted the chairmanship’s “intention to place a special focus on human rights, democracy and gender equality,” adding that “in this regard, the Holy See wishes to highlight, as specified in other occasions, the importance of adopting an approach that respects to the same extent all human rights universally recognized, in order to avoid establishing a hierarchy among them.”

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“In fact, human rights should never be used either as means to advance political, economic, military, cultural or ideological agenda, or as open terms different actors can change according to their purposes,” the Polish priest said.

Urbańczyk said peace in the OSCE region must continue to be a priority.

“The Holy See cannot fail to recognize that, thirty years after the end of the Cold War, the words of an eminent Swedish diplomat, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld, still ring true: ‘the pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.’”

He made particular note of the “irreplaceable contribution women offer when it comes to reconciliation and the building of peace.”

“For its part, the Holy See remains convinced of the need to promote ‘the role of women in all levels of conflict prevention, crisis management and resolution, and post-conflict rehabilitation’ as well as to the ‘post-conflict reconstruction processes,’” he said.

Quoting Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti, Urbańczyk said “a real and lasting peace will only be possible on the basis of a global ethic of […] cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family.”

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