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Flags of member nations fly outside United Nations headquarters Geneva Switzerland (Bigstock)

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva has called for renewed international efforts to address the ongoing violations of human rights, including freedom of religion. Source: Vatican News.

Human rights, including those against freedom of thought, conscience and religion, continue to be violated on an alarming scale across the globe, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the 55th Session of the Human Rights Council, Archbishop Balestrero said discrimination and persecution of believers are on the rise worldwide.

He cited the data from the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need, which shows that religious freedom is violated in almost one-third of the world’s countries, affecting around 4.9 billion people.

The former Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of the Congo also lamented that in some Western countries, “religious discrimination and censorship are being perpetrated under the guise of ‘tolerance and inclusion’.”

“Legislation originally aimed at combatting ‘hate speech’, is often instrumentalised to challenge the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, leading to censorship and ‘compelled speech’.”

Regarding the general topic discussed at the session, Archbishop Ballestrero underscored that in pursuing “a more effective” international cooperation, as called for by Pope Francis to address the current challenges, “especially in order to consolidate respect for the most elementary human rights”. He said the focus must remain of the dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of peace, as stated in 1948 by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To improve multilateral diplomacy, he said, it is important “to uphold values that are rooted in human dignity”. This requires in turn “rebuilding a shared vision of our inherent nature.”

“We cannot separate what is good from what is true and what is deeply rooted in our human nature.”


Holy See: Religious freedom is violated in one third of the world (By Lisa Zengarini, Vatican News