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Vatican official decries rising tide of violence in places of worship


Valery HACHE | AFP

John Burger - published on 12/05/20 - updated on 12/05/20

"Havens of peace and serenity have become execution chambers," Archbishop Gallagher laments.

The Vatican has expressed grave concern about the rising amount of violence against people in places where they pray and worship God.

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, on Thursday cited a rising number of terrorist attacks, hate crimes and other manifestations of intolerance targeting persons, places of worship, cemeteries and religious sites.

Gallagher spoke during a virtual meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The archbishop-diplomat noted that “the fact that many of these acts of violence have been perpetrated against believers when they gather to pray in places of worship make them particularly heinous: havens of peace and serenity quickly become execution chambers, as defenseless children, women and men lose their lives simply for gathering to practice their religion.”

“It is even more regrettable that some of these acts are committed ‘in the name of religion,’” Archbishop Gallagher said, according to the Vatican’s news portal. He stressed that “violence does not stem from religion but from its false interpretation or its transformation into ideology” as violence, persecution and killing in the name of God is not religion but radicalism which “needs to be fought by all using all legitimate means.”

Gallagher said that the protection of places of worship is a direct consequence of the protection of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief. He called on the OSCE to effectively “address intolerance and discrimination against Christians, Jews, Muslims and members of other religions without prejudice or hierarchical selectivity.”

“The response to the security challenges faced by religious communities should be based on the understanding that the OSCE participating States have a common duty to guarantee the protection of communities from attacks,” Gallagher said, adding that there is a link between freedom of religion or belief and security in the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security.

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