Russian Orthodox Church urges OSCE to defend Christians' rights

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) member states should not turn away from efforts to defend Christian values for the sake of achieving inter-confessional peace, the Moscow Patriarchate said.

"Our voice calling for protection of Christians outside of Europe will sound more confident and authoritative if it is backed by our co-operation in making OSCE states an example of the upholding of Christian rights and freedoms," Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External Church Relations, said at the OSCE's high-level meeting "Preventing and Responding to Hate Incidents and Crimes Against Christians" in Rome on September 12.

"For decades now, the encroachment upon the rights of religious minorities has been widely discussed on the European continent. Yet, practice shows that the position of the majority, which is comprised of traditional Christians in almost all of the OSCE participating states, is far from being the best guarantee of their rights," he said.

"The basic danger is in attempting to use religious diversity as an excuse to exclude signs of Christian civilization from the public and political realities of the continent, as though this would make our continent friendlier toward non-Christians," he also said.

"I am convinced that society, which has renounced its spiritual heritage under the pretext of the radical separation of religious life from public life, becomes vulnerable to the spirit of enmity in relation to representatives of any religion. This does indeed create an atmosphere of intolerance in relation to Christians, as well as to representatives of other traditional religions," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

"Christians in the OSCE region are consistently attacked because of their position on abortion and euthanasia. Opponents not only fail to see that behind their false justifications lie the deprivation of human life, but they also question Christians' right to present their views and their democratic efforts to have them reflected in European legislation," he said.

"We are also concerned about the acts of vandalism aimed against Christian shrines that have become a sad social reality in the contemporary OSCE region," he said.

"If the rights of Christians and representatives of other traditional religions in the OSCE region are to be effectively defended, the organization is called upon not only to react to crimes, but also to act in consolidating peace between all of the region's religions," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

Source: Interfax Religion