During his annual speech to diplomats, Pope Francis warned of increasing intolerance towards Christians – even in countries where they are not a minority.
In his annual speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See yesterday (9th January), the Pope said that Christians are increasingly suffering for their Faith.
He said: “I cannot fail to mention, as certain statistics have shown, that one out of every seven Christians experiences persecution.”
The pope stressed that this also occurs in countries where Christians form the majority and should be safe from intolerance.
He said: “We should not overlook the fact that violence and acts of discrimination against Christians are also increasing in countries where the latter are not a minority.
“Religious freedom is also endangered wherever believers see their ability to express their convictions in the life of society restricted in the name of a misguided understanding of inclusiveness.
“Religious freedom, which cannot be reduced simply to freedom of worship, is one of the minimum requisites for a dignified way of life.”
Pope Francis called on governments to protect religious freedom at home and promote it abroad.
He said: “Governments have the duty to protect this right and to ensure that each person, in a way compatible with the common good, enjoys the opportunity to act in accordance with his or her own conscience, also in the public sphere and in the exercise of their profession.”
Pope Francis stressed that restrictions on religious liberty are widespread.
He said: “It is troubling that people are being persecuted simply because they publicly profess their faith, and in many countries religious freedom is limited.
“About a third of the world’s population lives under these conditions.”
A similar conclusion was reached by Aid to the Church in Need’s 15th Religious Freedom in the World report, published in 2021, which found that in 62 countries out of a total of 196 there are severe violations of religious freedom.
- ACN looked at the situation facing Christians in its Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22. To order you copy click here.