At the symposium, called Stand Together to Defend International Religious Freedom, Parolin told attendees that the reality of global religious persecution is often ignored.
“Notwithstanding the strong protection that religious freedom has within the framework of international law, including its clear presentation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we continue to witness grave violations of this basic fundamental right that often occur with impunity and at times receiving little, if any, attention in the media.”
Parolin highlighted the importance of journalists in defending religious liberty, saying that “raising public awareness on the reality of religious persecution, particularly via the rapid means now available with digital media, remains a useful step to address violations of religious freedom.”
The cardinal said “those involved in the area of media and social communications must bring to light those realities that threaten the common good of the human family.”
Human rights and religious freedom have been a much-discussed area of Vatican foreign policy in the last twelve months. A recent agreement, brokered in part by Parolin, with the Chinese Communist government ceded some aspects of episcopal appointments to Beijing, with the hope of easing communist control on the Church in that country.
U.S. ambassador at large for religious liberty Sam Brownback expressed his own reservations about the deal in a speech last month, saying it would “likely result in only individuals whom the [Communist] Party deems loyal to its interests being put forth to the Vatican.”
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In the meantime, Brownback noted, China “continues to violate the sacred right to religious freedom that is in its Constitution and also enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human rights.”
Apart from specific cases, Parolin also spoke about the rise of “new rights” in a culture which has lost sight of human nature’s roots in natural law.
The principled support of natural law, family, and life issues by religious believers is under attack, Parolin said, because secular society does not hold religious belief to be an essential part of human nature.