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Silence on Religious Freedom Lamented: European Institutions Criticized

Silence on Religious Freedom Is Lamented: European Institutions Criticized

Zenit News Agency ( Italy )

01/17/06

STRASBOURG , France - Political, civil and Church figures criticized the silence of some European institutions in the face of the grave violations of religious freedom in the world.

The criticism was articulated today at a press conference by Mario Mauro, vice president of the European Parliament; by Father Bernardo Cervellera, director of the AsiaNews agency; and by Attilio Tamburrini, director of the Italian section of Aid to the Church in Need.

The three speakers criticized European institutions' lack of attention in the face of the growing phenomenon of violations of religious freedom in many countries.

Mauro observed: "Religious freedom is a social problem, which serves as a test to measure the level of all liberties within a state; if this one is violated, all liberties are violated."

Based on his experience as a missionary in China , Father Cervellera lamented the abduction of bishops, who have died in prison or after years of forced labor.

Treaty violations

For his part, Tamburrini, author of an annual report on religious freedom, mentioned the extent of the problem of religious freedom in the former Communist countries of Europe . He said that commitment to vigilance is needed on the part of international organizations, since it is a question of violations of treaties endorsed by U.N. member-nations.

Mauro contended that the European Parliament is often silent in the face of these enormous violations of the fundamental rights of millions of people and, yet, it makes criticisms "of an ideological character."

On 30 occasions over the past 10 years, the European Parliament has criticized the Holy See for interfering with and violating human rights, while Cuba and China have been condemned an average of 15 times for these reasons.

Mauro appealed to European deputies to take into account violations of religious freedom when concluding agreements, including commercial ones, with other countries.

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