Vatican Roundup

Vatican envoy warns of rising anti-Christian violence in Europe

Anti-Christian intolerance and violence are on the rise in Europe, the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has warned. In three addresses to a December 14 conference in Vienna on ‘Combating Intolerance and Discriminations of Christians’, Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk said that while “the OSCE area does not witness blatant and violent persecutions of Christians, as sadly other parts of the world currently do…manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase…Moreover, offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.” 

The monsignor went on to draw participants’ attention to what he termed a “worrying trend”, that of “some aggressively orchestrated actions, especially in the media and in public discourse, against Christians and all others who express peacefully their religious views, traditions and values”, a phenomenon true “for those who defend human nature from being reduced to mere matter and from the new ideological colonisation that invades human thought, under the pretence of virtue, modernity and new attitudes, and which is contemptuous of reality as God has created it…In other words, the peaceful contribution of religion to public life seems not only to be rejected, but also contested.”


Key to reversing the upswing in intolerance and violence, Msgr Urbańczyk stressed “is to recognise that religion, with its values and traditions, can significantly contribute to the enrichment and development of society, and to creating a peaceful environment where everybody is free to profess and practise his faith…As a matter of fact, religions have an enduring capacity to open new horizons, to stimulate thought, to expand the mind and heart, feeding mutual trust among people and communities.”

In addition to calling on European states “to acknowledge such a role and to enable Christians to fully participate in public life”, Msgr Urbańczyk urged them “to act resolutely to protect Christians in their territories and to address properly, including by adequate legislative measures, all cases of intolerance, discrimination, hate crimes, and violent incidents against Christian individuals, communities and places or objects of worship”.


Pope makes appointments to new migrants’ office

Pope Francis has appointed Canadian Fr Michael Czerny, SJ and Fr Fabio Baggio, an Italian Scalabrini priest, as under-secretaries at the new Vatican department for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, an office focusing on the plight of refugees and migrants.

Reacting to news of his new role, Fr Czerny expressed his joy at being chosen to work in an area that “touches all the dimensions of human experience” and is one the Pope has made a top priority during his pontificate. “There’s hardly a place in the planet which is not touched by this phenomenon,” he added.