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Holy See diplomat: Respect for freedom of religion, conscience is ‘litmus test’ for other human rights

October 13, 2022

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CWN Editor's Note: In recent remarks at the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), emphasized the “centrality of freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief ... because this specific freedom represents a litmus test for the respect of all other human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Msgr. Urbanczyk listed several ways in which freedom of religion and conscience is “challenged,” including “undue limitations to conscientious objection,” lack of respect for parental choice in education, censorship, the wrongful equation of religious expression with “hate speech,” and government abuse of religious registration mechanisms.

Msgr. Urbanczyk also said that governments “should always respect the autonomy of religious communities as regards their internal affairs, guaranteeing the latter to freely select, appoint and replace their leaders, to decide on their structure and internal rules, and to define the contents of their beliefs.” China, where this principle is manifestly violated, is not a member of the OSCE.

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