Religious freedom under threat in many countries, Holy See says at UN debate

The right to religious freedom continues to be ignored and even violated in many countries, the Holy See told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate on October 1 in New York, warning that such behaviour is often the pretext for other forms of discrimination.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, said dialogue among peoples of different religions and cultures was no longer an option, but “something indispensable for peace and for the renewal of international life.”

He welcomed the holding of the High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace, a two-day meeting starting later this week at UN Headquarters. General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim is convening the event.

“The Holy See hopes that the increased interest on the part of non-religious bodies and institutions will contribute to a greater respect for religious freedom everywhere,” the Archbishop said. “Today, the right to religious freedom continues to be disregarded and even violated in certain places. Such violation has become a pretext for various other forms of discrimination.”

Archbishop Mamberti said non-believers were not the only ones who needed to contribute to a climate of greater religious tolerance.

“If religious leaders and believers expect States and societies to respect them and acknowledge their religions to be truly instruments of peace, they themselves must respect religious freedom; they must show that they are pledged to promote peace and shun violence; they must demonstrate that religion is not and must not become a pretext for conflict; and they must declare without ambiguity that to promote violence or to wage war in the name of religion is a blatant contradiction.”

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