National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

European churches welcome EU move to link aid to religious freedom

Oxford, England

Churches in Europe have welcomed pledges by the European Union to make financial help for countries around the world conditional on their protection of religious freedom.

The Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, COMECE, said Tuesday that action was needed "given the systematic and increasing violations of freedom of religion by some governments and non-state actors."

It said the new EU guidelines provide "an operational set of tools to be used in relations with third countries ... designed to protect all individual believers and religious communities."

The Council of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council adopted "Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief" Monday. Linking EU aid to protection of religious rights was one of 11 policy recommendations by COMECE in 2010.

The non-Catholic Conference of European Churches, which said its representatives had helped draft the guidelines, also welcomed the European Union taking steps to make "freedom of religion or belief ... a priority in its foreign policy."

Help keep NCR going!
We rely on donations to bring you the latest news.
Donate today.

"Churches will continue to monitor the implementation and evaluation of these guidelines to ensure they are used effectively to combat violations and bring the perpetrators to justice," the conference said.

Calls for tougher action to combat anti-religious violence and discrimination, especially against Christians, have mounted in the 785-seat European Parliament and other institutions.

In its guidelines, the EU said free exercise of the fundamental right to religious freedom "contributes to democracy, development, rule of law, peace and stability," whereas violations often constituted "early indicators of potential violence and conflicts."

It added that the EU was "impartial and not aligned with any specific religion or belief," but was concerned that religious rights abuses were now widespread and complex "in all parts of the world, including Europe," in violation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international treaties.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

August 15-28, 2014

08-15-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.