High-level European officials and experts attending an international conference in Vienna last week, stated that European governments and the international community were failing to address religious discrimination and the persecution of Christians in Europe and worldwide.
In his opening keynote speech to the conference, EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom, Ján Figel’, observed that, even though tens of thousands of Christians worldwide are killed every year because of their faith, the media and the international community pay little attention.
Significantly, the conference, entitled “Embattled: Christians under Pressure in Europe and Beyond” was split into two parts, the first part dealing with persecution outside of Europe in countries such as Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea and Syria, and the second focused on growing governmental restrictions within European countries on conscience, freedom of association, freedom of speech and parental rights, as well as hate crimes against Christians.
Speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Vienna at the start of the conference, Bishop Stephan Turnovszky said that, although there is no organised or systematic persecution of Christians in Europe, there were frightening trends involving Christian marginalisation, as well as political and media reprisals against those with religious convictions.
He also observed that violence against Christians is rarely reported in the media, and instances of anti-Christian discrimination are increasingly the norm, despite being dramatically under-reported.
- Pray for Christians across the world, including the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Europe, where discrimination, oppression and persecution against Christians are increasing.
- Pray for the Church in these regions, for wisdom, integrity, courage and strength of faith, and to be a light in the darkness and beacon of hope to the communities around them.
- Pray for governments in these regions, to be true to their constitutions where they allow freedom of belief and freedom of speech for all people.
- Pray that violence and crime against Christians will be reported in the media, and for a growing awareness and voice against the discrimination that all too many Christians face around the world.
Proverbs 31 vs 8 – 9: “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.“