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Rome Reports

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Msgr. Gallagher: Before ISIS, Christians were already second-class citizens

The Italian government, several embassies and experts from around the world all gathered in Rome to analyze the repeated attacks on religious freedom around the globe and come up with a strategy to combat them. They assert that more than ever religious freedom is being threatened and that it is necessary to take action.

ANGELINO ALFANO Minister for Foreign Affairs (Italy) "We must not be afraid to denounce the many, many, acts of persecution against Christians. These include the violence and discrimination that occur in some areas of the world and are not precedent in history, except in the early days of Christianity."

The Vatican's foreign minister, Monsignor Paul Gallagher, agreed with this diagnosis. He also said that discrimination against Christians did not come about because of radical groups such as ISIS, but it is a phenomenon that has been happening for many years. 

MSGR. PAUL GALLAGHER Vatican Secretary for Relations with States "Let's be honest. The religious pluralism that exists in the Middle East was not always perfect. It had its ups and downs. Even before the barbarity of the so-called Islamic State emerged on the world stage, Christians and other numerically small ethnic and religious communities felt they were second-class citizens."

The European Union's special envoy for religious freedom explained that, for the future, the best tool to combat this violence is education. He stated that the world is not experiencing a war of religions, but a war of ignorance.

JAN FIGEL European Commission "The situation in the world is very critical because freedom of religion and belief is under severe restrictions or oppression or even non-existing in its broad sense in many regions of the world." "We need to go deeper, for example, through education, because all these issues, including the extremism, violence and fanaticism has some roots and some allies. Allies of evil are ignorance, indifference and fear."

Experts agree that the trends are negative. Religious freedom in the world, for believers of all denominations, is diminishing and being threatened by intolerance, discrimination, persecution and even genocide.