Vatican representative urges UN efforts on religious freedom

Archbishop calls for ‘robust’ protection for religious freedom

The Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations has spoken of the “widespread persecution of Christians” before a US Congressional meeting in Washington DC.

Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt was one of a number of experts invited to speak about anti-Christian persecution before the House subcommittee on global human rights, and told the gathering that “religious persecution, be it overt or discrete, is emerging with an increased frequency worldwide”.

“No Christian is exempt,” the archbishop stressed, “whether or not he or she is Arab. Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith. This tragedy is all the more egregious when one pauses to consider that these men and women of faith are loyal sons and daughters of the countries in which they are full citizens and in which they have been living at peace with their neighbours and fellow citizens for untold generations.”
However, Archbishop Chullikatt further warned that cases of persecution were not confined to more turbulent regions of the world.

“Even in some of the western democracies,” he said, “the longstanding paragons of human rights and freedoms, we find instances of increasingly less subtle signs of persecution, including the legal prohibition of the display of Christian symbols and imagery – legitimate expressions of belief that for centuries has enriched culture – be they on the person or on public property.”

Calling for a greater effort on the part of member states of the United Nations to secure religious freedom Archbishop Chullikatt concluded that “only Member States, especially those with leadership profiles like the United States, can take decisive steps to ensure that the non-derogable human right of religious liberty becomes more robustly protected worldwide”.