Home Church in Action Vatican official calls for action on global religious freedom violations 

Vatican official calls for action on global religious freedom violations 

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the United Nations Human Rights Council lamented the extensive violations of religious freedom worldwide, affecting a large portion of the global population.

In his address to the 55th Session of the Council in Geneva, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero noted that “religious freedom is violated in almost one-third of the world’s countries, affecting around 4.9 billion people.”

Referencing data from the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need, Balestrero pointed to the increasing oppression of believers. 

He criticized practices in some countries where “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’,” said the prelate. 

Balestrero called for stronger international efforts to promote human dignity, echoing Pope Francis’s message for a more effective global response to protect basic human rights. 

He emphasized the need to focus on “the dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of peace.”

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On the topic of artificial intelligence (AI), the Archbishop stressed that development should “respect fundamental human rights and ought to serve, not compete with our human potential.” He warned against reducing people to algorithms or data.

Balestrero also expressed concerns over “new rights” that, he believes, threaten human dignity and unity. He criticized these efforts as leading to “ideological colonization” and undermining “human dignity, as well as human fraternity, as they create divisions between cultures, societies, and States, rather than fostering unity and peace.”

He said, “Universal fraternity is an essential condition for the full realization of human rights in today’s world.” 

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