Vienna, Austria, Dec 1, 2016 / 00:08 am
European leaders gathered this week at a conference in Vienna to discuss Christian persecution and its resounding effect on Europe, particularly emphasizing the need to seriously address religious discrimination and genocide around the world.
“The persecution faced by Christians around the world must be recognized and treated by the international community with the seriousness it deserves,” Ellen Fantini, executive director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians, stated Nov. 29.
“The pressure faced by Christians in Europe is much more subtle – what Pope Francis has called ‘polite persecution.’”
The conference, entitled “Embattled: Christians Under Pressure in Europe and Beyond,” drew more than 100 attendees. It was held at the archbishop’s palace in Vienna, with the hope of informing the public, lawmakers and officials of the ongoing threats of religious persecution.
The event was organized by the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in partnership with ADF International, Open Doors, Aid to the Church in Need, and Christian Solidarity International, which additional support from the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.
In the spotlight at the conference was a North Korean native, Timothy C., who was forced to leave his country or face imminent death because of his religion. Other similar stories surfaced throughout the event, including those of Nigerian Christians killed by Boko Haram.
According to Jan Figel, the EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom, over 100,000 Christians are killed every year due to religious persecution. Figel underscored the importance of not remaining silent during times of persecution, and pointed to the example of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
“Those who do not understand religion and misuse religion cannot understand what is happening in the world,” Figel stated during his opening keynote address.