INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE
STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO CAÑIZARES
The Holy See Delegation wishes to congratulate the Spanish Government on the great interest it has taken in organizing this Conference, together with the Slovenian Presidency.
In the prestigious city of Toledo, the OSCE is living a new and important stage in its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance that were highlighted at the Conferences last year in Berlin, Brussels and Paris; it was followed by the institution of three acting Personal Representatives of the President.
The Holy See supports this process and approves the intention to implement the resolutions adopted to promote the dignity of the human person.
No "trampling' on human dignity
Recently too, history has demonstrated the tragic consequences that result from denying this dignity or of reducing it to a merely formal proclamation, using it as the foundation and goal of measures in blatant contradiction to human rights.
As Pope John Paul II recalled on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners from the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau: "That attempt at the systematic destruction of an entire people falls like a shadow on the history of Europe and the whole world; it is a crime which will for ever darken the history of humanity" (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 2 February 2005, p. 5).
The immense tragedy of the Holocaust is also a dramatic invitation to teach people, especially the young generations, not to give in to ideologies that justify "trampling upon" human dignity, on the basis of ethnic, linguistic, national or religious diversity.
The Catholic Church, as the Second Vatican Council solemnly declared, deplores any expression of "hatreds, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism levelled at any time or from any source against the Jews" (Nostra Aetate, n. 4), condemns discrimination and recommends that intolerance also be avoided, since it is almost always expressed in a restriction of rights and freedoms and can give rise to the marginalization and oppression of human persons and the communities to which they belong.
The Holy See is delighted that interreligious dialogue is encouraging and fostering tolerance and reciprocal recognition, hence, a coexistence among peoples which is a factor of peace.
Precisely because this is what it desires, it is loath to subordinate the dialogue to merely pragmatic and political ends. Indeed, this would degrade both God and the human being and discourage tolerance instead of promoting it, since it assesses it with the precarious and changeable parameter of political balance rather than with the reliable yardstick of truth and human dignity.
End all intolerance, discrimination
The efficacy of the OSCE's action against discrimination and intolerance largely depends on the credibility of this commitment and therefore also on its "inclusive" character, in continuity with the reflection and progress made so far.
The Holy See Delegation, therefore, desires once again to emphasize that in the geographical area under this organization's jurisdiction, intolerance and discrimination against Christians and the members of other religions are disturbing phenomena that must be firmly combated in the same way as anti-Semitism and discrimination against Muslims.
In fact, it would be paradoxical not to provide concrete measures to guarantee religious freedom, without any form of discrimination and intolerance, to Christians and to the members of the other religions, precisely when a general plan has been drawn up to eliminate discrimination and intolerance.
Moreover, it is necessary to avoid allowing anti-Semitism or discrimination against Muslims or Christians to become a sort of hierarchy. Each of these "scourges" "debilitates" and debases human beings, and must thus be "dealt with" without delay.
Furthermore, to avoid any possible postponement or unjustified selectivity in interventions by Member States, the correct balance between the commitments they have adopted must be assured, in the perspective of the three approaches mentioned.
The Holy See, therefore, hopes that the Cordoba Conference will be a favourable opportunity for the OSCE to work to establish effective means and mechanisms to fight and oppose prejudice and the false representation of Christians and of the members of other religions, in the mass media and in the context of education, as well as to enliven the practical contribution to the public life of the Churches and Religious Communities in the countries.
The Holy See will continue to collaborate with the OSCE so that its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, including religious intolerance, will safeguard and promote human dignity, at the heart of the great causes that this Organization promotes.
Thank you, Mr President.