Zagreb (Agenzia Fides) – The birth of an Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe Demographics and the Family in Europe was announced yesterday afternoon (September 30), by Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and President of the CCEE (Council of European Bishops' Conferences), in his opening speech at the CCEE Plenary Assembly, being held in Zagreb from September 30 to October 3, on "Demographics and the Family in Europe."
“Europe, this continent in which many cultures have found the Gospel, and from where so many missionaries have set out to proclaim the Word to the ends of the earth, is today experiencing an identity crisis. And this crisis does not only affect our individual nations, but it also touches upon the plan for a community of Europe,” said Cardinal Erdo in his opening speech. Today there are plenty of groups who seek to “deny the existence of God at all costs,” thus denying the possibility of founding life and social structures on a solid foundation. However, “Europe needs God, to recall its own roots and therefore to look to the future with realism and hope. Unfortunately, the situation is not easy for Christians who try to bear witness to their faith and hope in their lives, in a lifestyle that often becomes a challenge for others.”
The President of the CCEE also announced the birth of an "Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe," which aims to "promote greater awareness of the forms of intolerance and discrimination which some Christians in Europe suffer.” He continued: "This observatory does not aim to be a tool for disputes, but an aid to create a society more respectful of religious freedom, more capable too of understanding and accepting both its own roots and the plural reality through a healthy secularism. In short, it is, on the one hand, a help to modern evangelization, and, on the other, a help to the development of an authentic democracy based on equality in our continent. True religious freedom – as John Paul II says – is a fundamental right and sets the standard for the observation of all the other rights. Where hate campaigns are permitted against a certain religious community or an ethnic group, tomorrow it will be permitted against another group.”
In the telegram sent on behalf of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, encouraged the prelates "to continue the important work undertaken and inspire in the Church communities the necessary commitment so that the faithful might be free from intolerance and discrimination and to promote the family and the defense of human life." The Pope also assured the participants of his prayers "so that the providential meeting may contribute to strengthening the bonds of unity and communion between the European bishops giving a further courageous thrust to the new evangelization of the continent." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 1/10/2010)