On September 28, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, gave an address during a side event entitled, “Freedom from Persecution: Christian Religious Minorities, Religious Pluralism in Danger,” sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Hungary.
In his statement, Archbishop Gallagher underlined the hard truth that although Christianity’s beginning was in the Middle East, ancient Christian communities are struggling to survive. Christians, he said, have always been part of the fabric of the Middle East, co-existing with Muslims, and have actively contributed to their respective societies. This relatively harmonious co-existence, he said, was recently shattered by Islamic extremist groups. This is not only a religious question but one of fundamental human rights, one that demands a response from public authorities. Archbishop Gallagher focused on the responsibility to protect people from persecution, false detention, expropriation of property, enslavement, forced exile, murder, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity. Such protection must include addressing the root causes of discrimination and persecution. He highlighted three elements that are essential in doing so: full respect for the rule of law and full equality before the law based on the principle of citizenship, regardless of religious, racial or ethnic differences; assistance by the international community to States so that they may exercise their responsibility to protect and safeguard their populations from atrocity crimes; and third, justice for those who have egregious attacks and violations of their fundamental human rights. He also mentioned the specific responsibility of religious leaders to confront and condemn the abuse of religious belief to justify terrorism and violence against believers of other religions.
His statement can be found here.