Standing idly by?

 The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) has called on the leaders of the European Union in a new report to wake up to the widespread persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. “Europe cannot remain passive. The European Union must take the co-responsibility for the protection of religious freedom in the world.”

Well, we might wonder, will they? The bellicose and utterly tasteless protest movement against the visit of the Pope to Britain were chanting in the streets of London a few weeks ago: “What do we want? A secular Europe! When do we want it? Now!” There are a lot of people who feel that they have already got it. It really will be a big news story when we hear that Europe’s leaders have taken on the responsibility these bishops are calling for.

Next week COMECE is organising a conference on the persecution of Christians, to be held in Brussels on October 5, It will present a report to the conference detailing situations around the world which reveals that “At least 75% of religious persecution is directed at people of the Christian faith. Each year 170,000 Christians suffer because of their beliefs.”

 “The total number of faithful who are discriminated amounts to already 100 million”, the report estimates. “This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group. Persecution may also include obstacles to the proclamation of Faith, confiscation and destruction of places of worship or prohibition of religious training and education.” While all that is happening Europe is deliberating on moves to prohibit the display of religious symbols in schools. It is anyone’s guess what the outcome of that deliberation might be so what hope is there that Europe will march to the defence of religios freedom elsewhere?