The Vatican has called on member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to protect religious freedoms against a rising tide of discrimination and intolerance adversely impacting the fundamental rights of minority communities, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at a recent OSCE conference in Vienna, Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk, the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE, called for “a society of tolerance and religious, cultural and national diversity” marked by “collaboration and mutual respect.”
An intergovernmental organization comprising most nations in the northern hemisphere, the OSCE’s mission is to prevent conflict and manage crises. Its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights focuses on assisting participating States, religious or belief communities, and civil society in protecting and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief.
Monsignor Urbańczyk said that his purpose in addressing the assembly was to “attract attention [to] two principles that it is worth keeping in mind. The first is the inherent dignity of every human person, regardless of his ethnic, cultural or national origin, or his religious belief. The second is the fundamental unity of the human race, in virtue of which all national communities enjoy the same inherent dignity. In fact, a veritably democratic society should guarantee the participation of national minorities in the political, economic, social, cultural and religious life.”
“National minorities have specific rights and duties” he said, “the most evident being the right of existence. Unfortunately, this right can be ignored or refused in numerous ways, by manifest or indirect forms of oppression or marginalization.”
He expressed his concern that “the crisis linked to COVID-19 has put several institutions to a harsh test, notably those of the health sector. "Rights and fundamental freedoms have been limited or derogated throughout the whole OSCE area,” he said. Unfortunately, in certain cases, national minorities have been negatively affected by these measures, notably by the lack of access to health systems or the lack of information in their own language.”
Monsignor Urbanczyk has served as Holy See Permanent Rep at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the OSCE, and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) since 2015 when he was also designated Holy See Permanent Observer at the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) & at the UN in Vienna.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.