On March 1, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave an intervention during the Side Event entitled “International Religious Freedom: A New Era for Advocacy in Response to a New Age of Challenges and Threats,” sponsored by the Holy See Mission together with the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion and Belief. His intervention was delivered by Msgr. Tomasz Grysa, Deputy Permanent Observer.
In his remarks, Archbishop Auza highlighted the international frameworks that classify the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, such as the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). He said that despite protection of the right to religious freedom in international law, there continues to be severe, routine acts of intolerance, discrimination, persecution and even genocide against religious believers on account of the beliefs they hold. He underlined various reports that show a recent increase in religious freedom violations from both States with preferred religions and non state actors. He mentioned that violations against religious freedom are also taking place in countries where an aggressively secular mind set treats religious belief as unworthy of public dialogue and the public square and mandate that children be indoctrinated in principles that effectively constitute a secularist religion, contrary to their religious beliefs. He highlighted he February 4 meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb that resulted in the joint Declaration on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together that addresses the right to religious freedom and what must be done to defend and advance it.
The statement can be found here.