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Top Vatican diplomat calls for dialogue as response to religious extremism

March 14, 2016

The Vatican's top foreign-policy official has argued for international cooperation and inter-religious dialogue as the best ways to combat the rise of religious intolerance.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States, told a conference on missionary formation that religious extremism and violence have become urgent problems, and called for concerted action "to ensure international cooperation to stop these atrocities, as well as to fully reaffirm the right to religious freedom and to condemn every type of discrimination and intolerance for religious reasons."

The archbishop cited "an exponential growth in cases of intolerance, discrimination, extremism, fundamentalism, and risks to individual freedom." Without specifically naming Islamic states, he noted that some countries restrict the right to practice minority faiths and that blasphemy laws provide "an easy pretext for those who intend to persecute those who profess a religious belief different to that of the majority." The archbishop said that "the continual destabilization of the Middle East has aggravated the violence against religious minorities, including Christians."

Archbishop Gallagher made a point of saying that religious intolerance is also visible in the West, "where forms of discrimination exist not infrequently and often appear in the guise of the so-called 'defense of democratic values.'"

 
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