The organization published data last month documenting more than 500 hate crimes against Christians in Europe in 2019.
Incidents included attacks against Catholic priests, arson attacks on Catholic churches, the destruction of images of the Virgin Mary, vandalism of a pregnancy counseling center, and the theft of consecrated Eucharistic hosts from tabernacles.
Gallagher said that the OSCE could be “rightly proud of being one of the first international organizations to raise the alarm on intolerance and discrimination against Christians.”
The archbishop was speaking weeks after a Tunisian man stabbed three people to death at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice in France. Witnesses said that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) throughout the attack.
Gallagher said: “It is even more regrettable that some of these abhorrent attacks are committed ‘in the name of religion.’ Let me emphasize that violence does not stem from religion but from its false interpretation or its transformation into ideology.”
“Violence, persecution and killing in the name of God is not religion but radicalism, which needs to be fought by all using all legitimate means.”
Gallagher argued that the commitment to defending freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief should lead to the protection of places of worship. The OSCE’s participating states therefore had a “common duty” to defend communities from attacks.
“For the OSCE to promote human dignity in an integral way, it must effectively address intolerance and discrimination against Christians, Jews, Muslims and members of other religions without prejudice or hierarchical selectivity, thus addressing hate crimes and security needs of all religious communities,” he said.
In his wide-ranging address, Gallagher also reflected on the pandemic. He lamented the surge in poverty caused by the coronavirus and its “disproportionate effect” on women.
He added: “Some of the measures imposed by states to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have had profound ramifications on different fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief, while also limiting the religious, educational and charitable activities of faith communities.”
“In this respect, civil authorities should always be aware of the severe consequences those regulations might create for religious or belief communities, which play an important role in dealing with the crisis not only by their active support in the field of healthcare and social assistance, but also by their spiritual and moral help and their messages of solidarity and hope.”