In his Easter address on Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for people intolerance solely for their religion.
“Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.”
The ECPM is pleased that Pope Francis continues to raise awareness for intolerance against Christians. In Europe, freedom of religion is thought to be fully respected but when asked, some believers give a different answer. Stories of Christians or other religious people that are physically persecuted solely because of their belief shock many in the EU. The ECPM is grateful that more and more attention is being given to protecting religious freedom:
“The ECPM welcomes therefore the adoption of the guidelines to promote freedom of belief in EU foreign policy. These guidelines are a practical demonstration of freedom of faith as core value of the EU.
The ECPM MEP’s have in this regard put special emphasis on the right of each person to change his/her belief (or refrain from any belief). This right is the cornerstone of freedom of faith. Without this right there is no real freedom of religion and belief. “
Within the EU borders we unfortunately face an increasing intolerance and discrimination against Christians as well. The form it takes is not so much physical as it is economical. For example, when religious people are refused a job because of the supposed inconveniences their belief might cause for the employer. Furthermore there is intimidation, especially for those who converted from Islam to a different belief. There is also judicial persecution, when new regulations under the banner of “anti-discrimination” clearly restrict the freedom of religious expression, affecting religious institutions and believers.
Religion and faith are often seen as a threat, not as an added value. However, figures of the huge amount of Christians who are active as volunteers in all parts society are often not known to people. The social relevance of churches are underestimated as well. In reality, the Christian religion has a positive effect on believers because it inspires them to love their neighbor.
As Pope Francis has worded it:
“In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”