Christians currently most persecuted religious group in world, Holy See tells UN

Warning that Christians currently suffer more persecution because of their faith than any other religious group, the Holy See today told the United Nations the denial of religious freedom threatened peace and security and precluded integral human development.

“Respect for religious freedom is the fundamental path for the construction of peace, the recognition of human dignity and the safeguarding of human rights,” Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States for the Holy See, which has observer status at the UN, told the General Assembly on the final day of the annual general debate.

“The particular influence of a specific religion in a nation should never imply that citizens belonging to other faiths should be discriminated against in social life or, even worse, that violence against them should be tolerated,” he said, reiterating the Holy See’s appeal to the authorities and religious leaders for the protection of religious minorities wherever they are threatened.

The archbishop cited religious freedom among three challenges he raised, the other two being the duty of the international community to take care of its weakest members, and the prolonged global economic and financial crisis.

On the former he mentioned the victims of the drought and famine raging in the Horn of Africa, linking it with the responsibility to protect, under which the international community has the duty to intervene if states cannot or will not guarantee that protection.

He noted that the responsibility to protect was invoked in cases of conflict and warned that the use of force should be the very last resort, after all other efforts at prevention have failed.

On the financial crisis the archbishop stressed that the economy cannot only function by market self-regulation, and even less in accordance with agreements limited to reconciling the interests of the most powerful.

“It needs an ethical basis in order to function for humanity,” he said, calling any other non-ethical basis “ingenuous or cynical, and always fatal.”