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Italian Catholic activist to head OSCE office on religious discrimination

CWN - January 10, 2011

The Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Audronius Azubalis, due to be sworn in on January 12, as the new president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has appointed an Italian, Massimo Introvigne, as OSCE representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions.

Unlike his predecessor, the Italian Mario Mauro, Massimo Introvigne is not a politician, but a Catholic activist, author, and sociologist from a grassroots Catholic movement, Alleanza Cattolica (Catholic Alliance), whose proclaimed goal in public life is to spread the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. In his capacity as No 2 official of the Alleanza Cattolica he has been engaged for years in denouncing the persecution of religious minorities, especially those affecting Christians in recent weeks.

The OSCE is the largest organization in the field of international security and promotion of human rights. Its members include all 56 countries of Europe (including the Holy See, which is a founding member) and ex-Soviet Central Asia, plus the United States and Canada, with a special partnership with other Mediterranean countries (including Turkey, Morocco and Israel), Asia (including Japan and South Korea) and Australia. Its growing importance was confirmed by the OSCE summit in December 2010 in Astana, Kazakhstan, attended by numerous heads of State and Government and other authorities, including Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Hillary Clinton, Russian president Medvedev and the Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi.

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