In an address to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi expressed deep concern over the continuing discrimination and systematic attacks upon Christians occurring worldwide which have resulted in the death of more than 100,000 followers of Christ per year.
Vatican Radio is reporting on Archbishop Tomasi’s address, which was given on May 27 at the 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The serious violations of the right to freedom of religion in general and the recent continuing discrimination and systematic attacks inflicted on some Christian communities in particular, deeply concern the Holy See and many democratic Governments whose population embrace various religious and cultural traditions,” the Archbishop said.
“Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year.”
Those who are not killed are subjected to other brutalities such as forced displacement, the destruction of their places of worship, rape and the abduction of their leaders such as the recent kidnapping of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo (Syria).
“Several of these acts have been perpetrated in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the fruit of bigotry, intolerance, terrorism and some exclusionary laws,” the Archbishop said.
“In addition, in some Western countries where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.”
It is in the best interests of the world to preserve the Christian religion which has always been “at the service of the true good of humanity” without any distinction of religion or race, he said, then launched into a breathtaking list of all the services currently being provided to the world by the Catholic Church.
“In the field of education, it runs 70,544 kindergartens with 6,478,627 pupils; 92,847 primary schools with 31,151,170 pupils; 43,591 secondary schools with 17,793,559 pupils. The Church also educates 2,304,171 high school pupils, and 3,338,455 university students. The Church’s worldwide charity and healthcare centers include: 5,305 hospitals; 18,179 dispensaries; 547 Care Homes for people with Leprosy; 17,223 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability; 9,882 orphanages; 11,379 crèches; 15,327 marriage counseling; 34,331 social rehabilitation centers and 9,391 other kinds of charitable institutions. To such data about social action activity, there should be added the assistance services carried out in refugee camps and to internally displaced people and the accompaniment of these uprooted persons. This service certainly doesn’t call for discrimination against Christian.”
He concluded by quoting the wish of Pope Francis made during the 17th Centennial Anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which opened the door to religious freedom, asking that “… civil authorities everywhere respect the right to publicly express one’s faith and to accept without prejudice the contribution that Christianity continues to offer to the culture and society of our time”.
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