The European Parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of a report on the persecution of religious minorities strongly criticized by the Catholic Church.
The members of the legislative body of the European Union have formally adopted the report“Persecution of minorities for reasons of belief or religion”, during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, on May 3.
The Christian legal group ADF International mentioned that the original draft highlighted the extent of anti-Christian persecution around the world, but the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee made substantial changes to the text.
“The persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa has been omitted and all but one reference to Christians has been removed,” ADF International said.
“The report includes multiple references emphasizing the protection of minorities of atheistic, secular or humanist beliefs.”
The vote took place after the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) suggested that the report treated the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to life as “second-order rights.”
Secretary General of COMECE Father Manuel Enrique Barrios Prieto mentioned on May 3: “Any attempt to infringe the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to life by abusive interpretations which unduly restrict their legitimate scope or subject them to “rights of the ‘newly created and non-consensual’ ‘men’, including abortion, constitute a serious violation of international law which discredits the European Union before the international community and before millions of European citizens.
He added that the text “would not be helpful for millions of religious believers who face persecution because of their faith, especially vulnerable women and girls, because their situation will be obscured and made invisible by prioritizing other political interests”.
The adopted text expresses “deep concern over the misuse and instrumentalization of creed or religion to impose policies, laws, including criminal laws, or discriminatory restrictions that contradict and undermine the rights of LGBTIQ people, women and girls and restrict access to basic services, such as education and health, including sexual and reproductive rights, criminalize abortion in all cases, criminalize adultery or facilitate religious practices that violate human rights.
Adina Portaru, senior adviser to ADF International in Brussels, Belgium, argued that the text undermined the role of the EU’s religious freedom envoy, who become vacant in September 2021.
The adopted report calls for “a transparent and comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness and added value of the post of special envoy”. He adds that the envoy should also focus on “the rights to non-belief, apostasy and adherence to atheistic views, while paying attention to the situation of at-risk non-believers.”
Portaru said: “We regret that the backdoor report does not ask the European Commission to take all necessary steps to appoint a new special envoy.”
“The Special Envoy has played a crucial role in bringing to light the horrors of religious persecution at European level. This role has raised awareness of some of the most serious and persistent violations of fundamental rights around the world and helped focus EU efforts to counter them.”
“The EU should not only continue but intensify its efforts to protect freedom of religion or belief around the world. The renewal of a special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU is now more necessary than ever.
The European Parliament has been accused of ignore the situation of the Christian minority in Afghanistan in a resolution on this South Asian country adopted in September 2021.
The only directly elected EU institution has also been criticized by Catholics for its advocacy of abortion.
She voted in June 2021 in favor of a report describing the practice as “essential health care” and seeking to redefine conscientious objection as “refusal of medical care”.