Esta es la versión HTML de un fichero adjunto a una solicitud de acceso a la información 'Abortion and freedom of belief/religion'.


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

EU  HUMAN  RIGHTS  GUIDELINES  ON  THE  
PROMOTION  AND  PROTECTION  OF  
RELIGIOUS  FREEDOM  
 
A  contribution  by  the  Secretariat  of  COMECE  
for  discussion  with  the  EEAS  on  the  occasion  of  
the  meeting  held  on  19  October  2012  
(Updated:  22  October  2012)  
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
CONTENTS  
 
1.  Justification  
 
a.  Religious  freedom  is  a  cornerstone  human  and  fundamental  right  
b.  The  increasing  number  of  religious  believers  worldwide  
c.  The  increasing  number  of  religious  persecuted,  mainly  Christians,  in  the  world  
d.  The  role  of  religions  in  social,  economic  and  political  issues  
e.  Education  for  peace  and  citizenship  
f.  Development  Cooperation  
f.1.  Integral  approach  to  development  
f.2.  Importance  of  the  work  on  the  ground  
f.3.  Promotion  of  health  and  social  development  
 
f.4.  Mil ennium  Development  Goals  (MDGs)  
g.  A  correct  understanding  of  the  role  of  religion  in  the  public  sphere  
h.  Participation  of  Churches  and  religious  institutions  
i.  Religious  freedom  is  a  priority  of  the  EU  
 
2.  The  concept  of  freedom  of  religion  
 
a.  Introduction  
b.  International  and  EU  legal  protection  
c.  The  inherent  communitarian  and  institutional  dimension  of  religious  freedom  
d.  The  use  of  standard  international  law  terminology  
3.  Guidelines  for  the  Promotion  and  Protection  of  Religious  Freedom  
 
a.  Monitoring  
b.  Roadmap  
c.  Prevention  of  exodus  and  asylum  measures  
d.  Supporting  political  and  legislative  processes,  and  conditionality  clause  
e.  Soft  diplomacy  
f.  Col ecting  and  sharing  reliable  data  
g.  Awareness  
h.  Immediate  reaction  mechanism  
i.  Special  rapporteur  
j.  Support  towards  defenders  and  victims  in  countries  
k.  International  and  Intergovernmental  Cooperation  
l.  Follow-­‐up  
m.  Dialogue  
n.  Elements  for  conclusions  
 
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
1.  Justification  

 
a.  Religious  freedom  is  a  cornerstone  human  and  fundamental  right  
 
Religious   freedom   is   a   sacred,   inalienable   and   universal   human   fundamental   right,  
recognised  by  the  international  and  European  instruments,  including  the  UDHR,  the  
European  Convention  of  Human  Rights,  and  the  European  Charter  of  Fundamental  
Rights.   It   is   rooted   in   the   dignity   of   the   person,   safeguards   moral   freedom   and  
fosters   mutual   respect.   Recently,   the   European   Court   of   Justice   reminded   us   in   a  
judgment  published  on  the  5  September  2012  that  freedom  of  religion  is  one  of  the  
foundations   of   a   democratic   society,   it   is   a   basic   human   right   and   that   its   public  
dimension  belongs  to  the  core  of  that  freedom.1  This  judgment  applies  the  concept  
of  religious  freedom  to  be  applied  when  serious  violations  of  this  fundamental  right  
occur  outside  the  European  Union,  and  defines  in  which  cases  persecuted  people  on  
religious   grounds   in   third   countries   are   entitled   to   be   qualified   as   refugees   and  
receive  international  protection.  
 
Religious  freedom  is  the  pinnacle  of  all  other  freedoms2,  and  “to  the  extent  that  it  
touches   upon   the   most   intimate   sphere   of   the   spirit,   one   can   even   say   that   it  
underlies   the   raison   d'être,   intimately   anchored   in   each   person,   of   the   other  
freedoms."3   It   is   the   first   of   human   rights   “for   it   expresses   the   most   fundamental  
reality  of  the  person.”4  The  civil  and  social  right  to  religious  freedom,  inasmuch  as  it  
touches   the   most   intimate   sphere   of   the   spirit,   is   also   a   point   of   reference   of   the  
other  fundamental  rights  and  in  some  way  becomes  a  measure  of  them.  For  it  is  a  
matter  of  respecting  the  individual's  most  jealously  guarded  autonomy,  thus  making  
it  possible  to  act  according  to  the  dictates  of  conscience  both  in  private  choices  and  
in  social  life.5  
 
                                                 
1  Judgment  in  Joined  Cases  C-­‐71/11  and  C-­‐99/11,  Bundesrepublik  Deutschland  v  Y  and  Z.  
2  Benedict  XVI,  Ecclesia  in  Medio  Oriente,  14  September  2012,  point  26.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-­‐
xvi_exh_20120914_ecclesia-­‐in-­‐medio-­‐oriente_en.html  
3  John  Paul  II,  Religious  freedom  and  the  final  Document  of  Helsinki,  5:  cf  .  L'Osservatore  Romano,  15  
November  1980.  See  also  Pope  John  Paul  II,  Letter  to  the  heads  of  state  of  the  nations  who  signed  the  
Helsinki  Final  Act  (1975)  on  the  eve  of  the  Madrid  Conference  on  European  Security  and  Cooperation,  
1  September  1980.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /speeches/1980/november/documents/hf_jp_i _spe
_19801114_atto-­‐helsinki_en.html  
4  Pope  Benedict  XVI  speech  to  the  Members  of  the  Diplomatic  Corps  accredited  to  the  Holy  See  for  
the  traditional  exchange  of  New  Year  greetings  (9  January  2012):  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/january/documents/hf_ben-­‐
xvi_spe_20120109_diplomatic-­‐corps_en.html  
5  John  Paul  II,  Message  for  the  celebration  of  the  Day  of  Peace,  1  January  1988.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-­‐
ii_mes_19871208_xxi-­‐world-­‐day-­‐for-­‐peace_en.html  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
Religious   freedom   is   the   gateway   which   is   intimately   connected   to   many   other  
fundamental   rights   and   freedoms   such   as:   freedom   of   expression   (i.e.,   religious  
texts’   distribution),   conscience   (i.e.,   in   compulsory   military   service),   assembly   (i.e.,  
for  worship),  association  (i.e.,  founding  a  religious  community),  the  right  to  equality  
and  non-­‐discrimination  (e.g.,  employment  in  the  public  sector  or  opportunities  in  the  
health  sector;  avoiding  designation  of  religion  on  identity  documents),  the  right  to  
education  (in  accordance  with  parents’  religious  convictions),  the  right  to  property  
(e.g.,  ownership  of  temples  by  churches),  etc.  
 
b.  The  increasing  number  of  religious  believers  worldwide  

 
In   today's   world,   peoples   and   nations   are   mainly   composed   of   religious   believers  
(atheism  and  non-­‐religious  affiliation  is  a  minority  phenomenon  worldwide).  In  mid-­‐
2010,  with  an  estimated  global  population  of  6.9  bil ion,  the  percentage  of  religious  
believers   of   all   denominations   was   about   88.4%,   while   non-­‐religious   or   agnostics  
were  a  9.6%,  and  atheist  a  2.0%  of  the  total  population.6  
 
The  expected  future  world  trends  show  that  both  in  relative  and  absolute  terms,  the  
numbers  and  proportion  of  religious  believers  wil   increase.  According  to  the  study  
entitled   World   Christian   Trends7,   religious   believers   wil    increase   their   proportion  
with  respect  to  the  world  population  from  84.8%  (in  2000)  to  86.8%  (in  2025)8  and  
88.1%  (in  2050).  It  means  that  in  absolute  numbers  religious  believers  worldwide  wil   
become  6.789.038.025  (in  2025)  and  7.851.949.855  (in  2050).  
 
Christian   denominations   wil    remain   the   majority   worldwide   (33.4%   of   global  
population   in   2025,   and   34.3%   in   2050),   fol owed   by   Muslims   (22.8%   in   2025   and  
25%  in  2050),  and  Hindus  (13,4%  in  2025,  and  13.2%  in  2050).9  
 
                                                 
6  Britannica  on  line,  Worldwide  Adherents  of  Al   Religions  by  Six  Continental  Areas,  Mid–2010.  Viewed  
at:  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1731588/Religion-­‐Year-­‐In-­‐Review-­‐
2010/298437/Worldwide-­‐Adherents-­‐of-­‐All-­‐Religions  
According  to  the  CIA  Factbook,  world  figures  (2009)  were:  Christian  33.35%,  Muslim  22.43%,  Hindu  
13.78%,  non-­‐religious  9.42%,  atheists  2.04%.  Viewed  at:  
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-­‐world-­‐factbook/fields/2122.html  
7  Barrett,  David  and  Todd  Johnson,  World  Christian  Trends,  William  Carey  Library,  2001:  
http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/wct-­‐1-­‐2.pdf  
8   Figures   of   religious   believers   (both,   in   relative   and   absolute   numbers)   are   even   higher   in   2025  
(90.52%),  according  to  the  “Status  of  Global  Mission,  2010,  in  Context  of  20th  and  21st  Centuries”,  
International  Bulletin  of  Missionary  Research,  Vol.  34,  No.  1.  2025  Total  population  of  8,010,511,000:  
Religious:  (7.251.543.000)  Non  religious  (625,648,000)  and  Atheist  (133,320,000).  Viewed  at:  
http://www.worldchristians.info/wp-­‐content/uploads/2011/02/ibmr20101.pdf  
9  Barrett,  David  and  Todd  Johnson,  World  Christian  Trends,  op.  cit.  
According  to  the  “Status  of  Global  Mission,  2010,  in  Context  of  20th  and  21st  Centuries”,  op.  cit.,  the  
figures  in  2025  would  be:  Christians:  33,80%  (2.708  bil ion);  Muslim  (24%;  1,962  bil ion)  and  Hindus  
(13,71%;  1,098  bil ion).  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
The  phenomenon  of  secularization  in  Europe,  which  is  a  complex  process  but  a  real  
trend,  does  not  correspond  to  the  general  tendencies  worldwide,  as  figures  show.  
The   particularities   of   social   evolution   in   Europe   –with   an   increasing   and   worrying  
hostility  towards  religions  in  many  European  countries  and  societies10-­‐,  might  distort  
the  understanding  of  the  role  of  religions  outside  Europe.  As  Georgetown  University  
Professor  of  Sociology  José  Casanova  wrote:  “Religions  are  here  to  stay  (…)  and  are  
likely  to  continue  playing  important  roles  in  the  ongoing  construction  of  the  modern  
world”.11  
 
Taking   into   consideration   the   geographical   scope   of   action   of   the   European   Union  
external  policies,  figures  clearly  show  that  it  is  not  reasonable  to  expect  a  reduction  
in   the   number   of   believers   and   the   role   of   religion   in   social   and   public   life   in   the  
international  scene,  but  rather  the  opposite.    For  this  reason,  it  is  the  interest  of  the  
EU  external  policies  to  avoid  misunderstandings  with  most  of  third  countries  -­‐whose  
societies   are   religious   ones   and   sensitive   to   what   they   could   consider   as   foreign  
political   interferences   in   their   lives-­‐   not   overstressing   the   negative   dimension   of  
religious  freedom.    An  opposite  action  could  be  seen  as  a  promotion  in  a  religious  
environment   of   non-­‐religious   believes,   and   therefore,   the   EU   might   be   seen   as  
partisan  institution  of  non-­‐religious  –or  even  atheists-­‐  views,  damaging  the  trust  and  
impartiality  which  makes  credible  any  action.  
 
c.  The  increasing  number  of  religious  persecuted,  mainly  Christians,  in  the  world  
 
The   worrying   situation   of   religious   believers   in   some   countries   is   of   particular  
concern.  In  some  of  them,  persecution,  mainly  of  Christians12,  is  a  daily  reality.  Given  
this  situation,  in  terms  of  international  justice,  the  goal  of  universal  relevance  is  the  
improvement  in  the  exercise  of  religious  freedom  throughout  the  world,  notably  for  
religious  (including  Christian)  minorities.  As  has  just  been  mentioned  above,  it  is  not  
only  they  who  suffer  from  attacks  on  this  basic  right  as  other  minorities  –  including  
Jews,  Muslims  and  Baha’is  –  are  likewise  affected.  However  it  is  important  to  recall  
that   at   least   75%   of   all   religious   persecution   in   the   world   is   directed   against  
                                                 
10   See,   for   example,   the   outcomes   of   the   Seminar   on   Discrimination   and   Intolerance   against  
Christians,  co-­‐organised  by  COMECE,  which  took  place  on  2  October  2012.  During  the  event,  speakers  
agreed  that  significant  efforts  are  required  to  eliminate  discriminatory  actions  against  Christians  and  
that  freedom  of  religion  has  to  be  ensured  not  only  for  minorities,  but  for  Christians  as  well.  Public  
attention   must   be   raised   to   issues   which   are   not   covered   by   the   media   and   a   permanent   dialogue  
should  be  established  on  major  issues.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.comece.org/site/en/activities/events/article/5131.html  
See,  also,  the  2012  Report  by  the  Observatory  on  Intolerance  and  Discrimination  against  Christians  in  
the  Year  2011.  Viewed  at:  http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/publications/report-­‐2011.html  
11  José  Casanova,  Public  Religions  in  the  Modern  World,  University  of  Chicago  Press,  1994,  page  6.  
12  Aid  to  the  Church  in  Need,  Persecuted  and  Forgotten?  A  Report  on  Christians  oppressed  for  their  
Faith,  2011  Edition.  Viewed  at:  http://www.aidtochurch.org/pdf/P&F_FINAL.pdf  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
Christians.  The  number  of  the  Christian  faithful  discriminated  against,  oppressed  or  
persecuted  in  this  regard  amounts  to  some  approximately  100  mil ion  people.13  
 
Because   of   this   situation,   for   several   decades   now   our   world   has   witnessed   a  
constant   migratory   flow   of   religious   minorities,   including   Christian   minorities.   This  
flow   has   been   witnessed,   inter   alia,   from   predominantly   Muslim   countries   in   the  
direction  of  Europe,  North  America  and  Australia.  Therefore,  an  improvement  in  the  
respect  shown  towards  religious  freedom,  inter  alia,  in  countries  of  the  Middle  East,  
should,  together  with  other  factors  (particularly  economic  factors),  contribute  to  a  
stemming  of  the  demographic  hemorrhage  which  has  affected  these  said  religious  
minorities  who  have  found  themselves  abandoned  by  the  international  community  
and  in  the  assistance  of  which  the  EU  is  called  to  act.14  
 
d.  The  role  of  religions  in  social,  economic  and  political  issues  
 
A  better  comprehension  of  religion  in  the  world  is  key  to  understand  the  main  social,  
economic   and   political   issues,   and   help   to   resolve   the   political   and   socioeconomic  
problems  that  fuel  conflicts.  
 
Unfortunately,  religion  is  too  many  times  misused  for  political  interests  and  power  
fights.  For  example,  a  recent  EASO  Report  on  Afghanistan  (2012)  shows  the  misuse  
of  religion  by  Taliban  for  recruitment  purposes.15  We  can  find  some  other  cases  in  
which  religion  is  just  a  tool  or  an  instrument  for  gaining  or  maintaining  the  political  
power,  even  using  it  as  a  “war  mark”,  as  it  is  the  case  for  the  wrong  and  extremist  
interpretation  of  the  jihad.  
 
The   abuse   of   religion   in   the   political   sphere   is   linked   to   discrimination   and  
persecution   against   other   religious   minorities,   mainly   Christians,   but   also   fuels  
international  conflicts  and  even  wars.  
 
Religiously  motivated  violence,  as  Pope  Benedict  XVI  stated  in  the  Meeting  for  Peace  
in  Assisi  (2011),  does  not  correspond  with  the  true  nature  of  religion,  but  rather  the  
opposite,  “it  is  the  antithesis  of  religion  and  contributes  to  its  destruction.”16  
 
                                                 
13   Secretariat   of   COMECE,   Religious   freedom.   Pil ar   of   the   Human   Rights   Policy   in   the   External  
Relations   of   the   European   Union.   A   Report   to   the   Bishops   of   COMECE,
  May   2010   pages   6   and   7.  
Viewed  at:  
http://www.comece.org/site/en/activities/policyareas/fundamentalrights/religiousfreedom  
 
14  Secretariat  of  COMECE,  Religious  freedom.  Pil ar  of  the  Human  Rights  Policy  …,  op.  cit.,  page  7.  
15  European  Asylum  Support  Office  (EASO):  
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-­‐affairs/what-­‐we-­‐do/policies/asylum/european-­‐asylum-­‐support-­‐
office/bz3012564enc_complet_en.pdf  
16  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2011/october/documents/hf_ben-­‐
xvi_spe_20111027_assisi_en.html  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
Even  religious  tolerance,  which  in  fact  exists  in  a  number  of  countries,  does  not  have  
much  effect  since  it  remains  limited  in  its  field  of  action.  In  law  and  practice,  religious  
majority  often  “tolerates”  the  existence  of  religious  minorities,  in  countries  in  which  
fundamentalist  religious  law  becomes  state  law,  but  they  are  frequently  constrained,  
in  multiple  and  insidious  forms  on  the  personal  and  social,  cultural,  administrative  
and  political  levels.17  
 
For  these  reasons,  there  is  a  need  to  move  beyond  tolerance  to  religious  freedom18,  
from  a  restrictive  and  negative  perspective  of  religions  to  a  wide  and  positive  one19.  
While   religious   tolerance   creates   a   gap   between   religious   majority   and   minorities,  
and   promotes   discrimination   against   these   last   ones,   religious   freedom   reinforces  
the  rule  of  law,  assures  a  common  standard  for  all  citizens  promoting  an  inclusive  
citizenship,  reinforces  the  equality  of  all  members  of  the  society  before  the  secular  
state   law,   and   prevents   direct   and   indirect   discrimination   towards   religious  
minorities.  Freedom  cannot  be  divided20.  Promoting  religious  freedom  of  minorities  
expands  social  freedom  of  all  citizens,  and  reinforces  all  freedoms  and  other  human  
and  fundamental  rights  intimately  connected  to  freedom  of  religion.  
 
Religious   freedom   also   guarantees   diversity   and   pluralism   in   a   society,   which   is   a  
substantial  element  of  the  democracy,  as  the  European  Court  of  Human  Rights  has  
maintained   since   decades   ago.21   Both   extremes   (either   fundamentalism   or  
ideological   secularism)   look   for   an   artificial   homogeneity,   harming   social   freedom  
and   putting   at   high   risk   the   real   foundations   of   democracy,   although   in   different  
ways  and  manners.  Only  when  persons,  communities  and  institutions  are  integrally  
free   in   practice   to   fol ow   their   religious   convictions,   a   real   and   natural   pluralism  
appears   in   society,   which   is   at   the   same   time   respectful   of   all   others’   believers  
(religious  or  not  religious  ones).  
 
                                                 
17  Benedict  XVI,  Ecclesia  in  Medio  Oriente,  14  September  2012,  point  26.  
18  Benedict  XVI,  Ecclesia  in  Medio  Oriente,  op.  cit.,  point  27.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-­‐
xvi_exh_20120914_ecclesia-­‐in-­‐medio-­‐oriente_en.html  
19  As  for  example,  PACE  Resolution  1510  (2006),  28  June,  Freedom  of  expression  and  respect  
for  religious  beliefs  (point  4):  “Religions  have  contributed  to  the  spiritual  and  moral  values,  
ideals  and  principles  which  form  the  common  heritage  of  Europe.”
 
See   also,   the   UN   Declaration   on   the   Elimination   of   Al    Forms   of   Intolerance   and   of  
Discrimination  Based  on  Religion  or  Belief,  25  November  1981,  Preamble:  “Convinced  that  
freedom  of  religion  and  belief  should  also  contribute  to  the  attainment  of  the  goals  of  world  
peace,   social   justice   and   friendship   among   peoples   and   to   the   elimination   of   ideologies   or  
practices  of  colonialism  and  racial  discrimination,  (…)”.
 
20  John  Paul  II,  Message  for  the  celebration  of  the  Day  of  Peace,  1  January  1981.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-­‐
ii_mes_19801208_xiv-­‐world-­‐day-­‐for-­‐peace_en.html  
21  See,  for  example,  Handyside  v.  UK,  4  November  1976,  paragraph  49.  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
The  freedom  of  individuals  and  of  communities  to  profess  and  practise  their  religion  
is  an  essential  element  for  peaceful  human  coexistence.  Peace,  which  is  built  up  and  
consolidated  at  all  levels  of  human  association,  puts  down  its  roots  in  the  freedom  
and  openness  of  consciences  to  truth.22  
 
As  Pope  John  Paul  II  stated:  “True  religious  feeling  cannot  fail  to  promote  true  peace.  
The  public  authorities,  by  recognizing  -­‐  as  they  should  -­‐  religious  liberty,  favour  the  
development  of  the  spirit  of  peace  at  the  deepest  level  of  people's  hearts  and  in  the  
educational  institutions  fostered  by  believers.”23  
 
The   Catholic   Church   knows,   from   many   centuries   of   experience,   that   suppression,  
violation   or   restriction   of   religious   freedom   have   caused   suffering   and   bitterness,  
moral   and   material   hardship,   and   that   even   today   there   are   mil ions   of   people  
enduring  these  evils.  By  contrast,  the  recognition,  guarantee  and  respect  of  religious  
freedom  bring  serenity  to  individuals  and  peace  to  the  social  community;  they  also  
represent   an   important   factor   in   strengthening   a   nation's   moral   cohesion,   in  
improving   people's   common   welfare,   and   in   enriching   the   cooperation   among  
nations  in  an  atmosphere  of  mutual  trust.24  
 
Therefore,  it  is  of  utmost  importance  for  social  and  international  peace  to  promote  
freedom   of   religion,   particularly   in   those   cases   in   which   the   misuse   for   political  
interests  is  evident.  That  is  why,  not  surprisingly,  last  30  July  2012,  the  US  Secretary  
of   State   Hil ary   Clinton   provided   a   stalwart   rationale   for   U.S.   foreign   policy   on  
worldwide   religious   freedom   -­‐which   is   rooted   in   the   1998   International   Religious  
Freedom   Act   (IRFA)   signed   by   her   husband-­‐   asserting:   “For   the   United   States   (…)  
religious   freedom   is   a   cherished   constitutional   value,   a   strategic   national   interest,  
and   a   foreign   policy   priority   (…)   Religious   freedom   is   both   an   essential   element   of  
human   dignity   and   of   secure,   thriving   societies.   It’s   been   statistical y   linked   with  
economic   development   and   democratic   stability.”25   This   statement—of   religious  
freedom   as   a   strategic   national   interest—is   the   most   powerful   statement   on   this  
issue  made  by  Obama  administration.  
 
 
 
                                                 
22  John  Paul  II,  Message  for  the  celebration  of  the  Day  of  Peace,  1  January  1988.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-­‐
ii_mes_19871208_xxi-­‐world-­‐day-­‐for-­‐peace_en.html  
23  Message  for  the  celebration  of  the  Day  of  Peace,  1  January  1979.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-­‐
ii_mes_19781221_xii-­‐world-­‐day-­‐for-­‐peace_en.html  
24   Message   of   John   Paul   II   on   the   value   and   content   of   freedom   of   conscience   and   of   religion,   14  
November  1980.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /speeches/1980/november/documents/hf_jp_i _spe
_19801114_atto-­‐helsinki_en.html  
25  http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/essays/clinton-­‐declares-­‐religious-­‐freedom-­‐a-­‐national-­‐
interest  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
e.  Education  for  peace  and  citizenship  
 
In  the  field  of  worldwide  education,  the  Catholic  Church  runs  70,544  kindergartens  
with   6,478,627   pupils;   92,847   primary   schools   with   31,151,170   pupils;   43,591  
secondary  schools  with  17,793,559  pupils.  The  Church  also  cares  for  2,304,171  high  
school  pupils,  and  3,338,455  university  students.26  
 
Alien  to  every  form  of  proselytism,  Catholic  educational  institutions  open  their  doors  
to  students  of  other  Churches  and  other  religions27.  Catholic  schools  and  Universities  
represent  a  hope  for  the  future  of  societies  in  certain  parts  of  the  world,  where  the  
message  of  reconciliation,  forgiveness,  dialogue  and  love  for  all  the  others  is  the  key  
to  built  up  a  common  future  for  all  its  citizens.  As  for  example,  in  Egypt28,  Palestine29  
or   Iraq30,   but   also   in   India31   and   Sudan32,   or   closer   to   us,   in   Bosnia-­‐Herzegovina33,  
                                                 
26   Agenzia   Fides,   Catholic   Church   Statistics,   2012.   Viewed   at:   http://www.africamission-­‐
mafr.org/statistiques_de_leglise_eng_2012.pdf  
27  Benedict  XVI,  Ecclesia  in  Medio  Oriente,  14  September  2012,  point  91.  
28   For   example,   Bishop   Youhanna   Golta,   Patriarchal   Auxiliary   Bishop   of   the   Coptic   Catholic  
Patriarchate  in  Cairo,  organizes  meetings  between  Muslim  and  Christian  students  to  talk  about  peace.  
They  gather  20  students  and  teachers  from  four  to  five  schools;  so  about  100  students  spend  a  ful   
day  together.  They  eat  together,  learn  and  do  activities  to  reinforce  messages  of  peace.  In  his  view:  
“Quite  frankly,  I  see  these  meetings  between  students  as  more  important  for  promoting  peace  than  
my  discussions  with  imams.  The  students  wil   bring  messages  of  peace  back  to  their  families,  schools  
and  neighborhoods.”
 Interviewed  by  the  Catholic  Relief  Services  in  Egypt.  Viewed  at:  
http://crs.org/egypt/church-­‐plays-­‐important-­‐role-­‐in-­‐new-­‐egypt/  
There  are  170  Catholic  schools  in  Egypt,  and  according  to  Bishop  Kyril os  Wil iam,  administrator  of  the  
Coptic   Catholic   Patriarchate   of   Alexandria   in   Egypt,   many   of   the   leaders   of   the   country   send   their  
children  there,  although  they  are  not  Catholics:  “This  it  means  that  when  their  children  are  older  and  
running  the  country,  they  wil   be  more  open  in  their  relations  with  us  Christians  and  more  respectful.”  
Viewed  at:  http://www.cinews.ie/article.php?artid=10479  In  Egypt,  Christians  are  a  minority,  making  
up  9  per  cent  of  the  population.  There  are  no  more  than  250,000  Catholics  out  of  a  total  population  of  
83  mil ion.  
29   Around   70%   of   the   enrollment   of   about   3,000   at   the   Bethlehem   University   is   Muslim,   with   the  
remaining  30%  Christian,  even  though  only  about  2%  of  the  total  population  is  Christian.  “We  have  a  
staff  of  about  280,  including  nine  brothers,  some  sisters  and  priests,  but  the  vast  majority  is  local”,
 the  
vice  chancel or  Brother  Peter  Bray  explains,  adding  that  about  half  the  courses  are  taught  in  English  
and  the  other  half  in  Arabic.  Viewed  at:  http://sundayex.catholic.org.hk/node/767  
30  The  Open  University  project  in  Baghdad,  an  initiative  of  Dominicans  Fathers,  is  the  answer  to  the  
need  of  creating  a  space  of  freedom.  “Iraq  needs  to  be  rebuilt  physical y  but  also  humanly  today  many  
human  values  have  been  lost  because  of  the  difficulties,  war,  violence,  ...Our  project  is  to  reach  these  
two  generations  who  were  kil ed  by  war,  violence,  and  rebuild  al   the  human  values  of  the  humanities.  
Culture   and   development   rights   in   Iraq   today   are   not   conceivable   and   feasible   by   conventional  
methods,  both  divisions,  tensions  and  resources  make  obsolete  the  usual  procedures.  It  was  therefore  

necessary  to  dare  another  approach,  to  imagine  an  area  of  freedom,  dialogue  and  research  as  a  basis  
for  knowledge  sharing  and  personal  reflection”,  
said  its  promoter,  Father  Amir  Jaje.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.oeuvre-­‐orient.fr/2012/05/24/en-­‐irak-­‐chretiens-­‐et-­‐musulmans-­‐travail ent-­‐ensemble-­‐
pour-­‐la-­‐construction-­‐de-­‐lhomme/  
31  “We  assume  the  responsibility  for  the  education  of  the  poor  and  the  marginalized  in  our  institutions,  
as  an  essential  part  of  our  contribution  to  build  an  inclusive  and  just  society.  In  our  Indian  context  the  
marginalized  would  include  the  Dalits,  Tribals,  rural  poor,  slum  dwel ers,  migrants,  child  labourers,  un-­‐

organized   labour,   etc.   We   make   available   to   them   wel -­‐qualified   teachers,   who   understand   their  
 



 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
catholic  educational  institutions  spread  the  same  message  to  students  of  a  variety  of  
religions   and   believes.   Even   in   Western   countries   outside   the   EU   as   the   USA34   or  
Canada35,   catholic   education   is   strongly   appreciated   by   other   religious   believers.  
Similar  perception  remains  in  the  EU.36  
 
As  it  was  highlighted  by  Pope  John  Paul  II:  “The  wholesome  implementation  of  the  
principle  of  religious  freedom  wil   contribute  to  the  formation  of  citizens  (…)  in  ful   
recognition  of  the  moral  order”37  ,  citizens  who  "wil   be  obedient  to  lawful  authority  
and  be  lovers  of  true  freedom;  people,  in  other  words,  who  wil   come  to  decisions  on  
their  own  judgment,  and,  in  the  light  of  truth,  govern  their  activities  with  a  sense  of  
                                                                                                                                           
culture   and   background   and   are   committed   to   them.   By   becoming   self-­‐empowered,   they   wil    then  
contribute   to   build   a   just,   humane   and   democratic   India.”
  Catholic   Bishops   Conference   of   India,   All  
India  Catholic  Education  Policy,
 2007,  chapter  3.9.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.cbcisite.com/AICEP-­‐2007-­‐Chapter3.htm  
32  The  Catholic  Conference  of  Bishops  of  Sudan  decided  in  2007  to  set  up  a  new  Catholic  University  in  
Juba   to   develop   responsible   leaders   for   the   country,   and   to   form   specialists   in   agriculture,  
environment,  engineering,  education,  health  sector  professionals,  lawyers  and  social  scientist.  Viewed  
at:  
http://www.gonzaga.edu/academics/colleges+and+schools/school-­‐of-­‐engineering-­‐and-­‐applied-­‐
science/Center-­‐for-­‐Engineering-­‐Design/10Projects/pdf/CE-­‐01-­‐Sudan.pdf  
33  In  the  archdiocese  of  Sarajevo  (under  the  leadership  of  Cardinal  Vinko  Puljic),  the  Auxiliary  Bishop  
Mgr  Pero  Sudar  has  created,  after  the  Dayton  Agreement,  Catholic  schools  open  to  the  main  religions  
and   to   the   whole   population.   He   has   called   them   “Schools   for   Europe”,   “Schools   of   Peace”.   Its  
objective  is  to  educate  children  and  thus  also  the  (future)  parents  for  living  together  in  the  respect  of  
differences   and   in   peace.   These   schools   have   taken   in   dozens   of   war   orphans.   Source:   European  
Committee  for  Catholic  Education  (CEEC),  Information  on  Catholic  Schools  in  Europe,  2008,  page  16.  
Viewed  at:  www.ceec.be/telecharger/Information_Catholic_Schools.doc  
34  Professor  Brian  P.  Flanagan  (Marymount  University),  Letter  to  The  New  York  Times  (6  September  
2012):   “My   Muslim   students   (…)   al ow   our   Catholic   university   to   grow   as   a   site   of   concrete  
interreligious   dialogue.   Our   classrooms   are   places   of   common   ground   marked   by   mutual   respect,  
honesty  in  our  differences,  and  real  love  for  God  and  neighbor.  We  fulfil   our  Catholic  mission  better  
not  despite  the  presence  of  our  Muslim  students,  but  because  of  it.”
 Viewed  at:  
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/opinion/muslims-­‐and-­‐catholics.html  
See  also,  The  New  York  Times,  “Muslims  From  Abroad  Are  Thriving  in  Catholic  Col eges”,  2  September  
2012.  Viewed  at:  
 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/education/muslims-­‐enrol -­‐at-­‐catholic-­‐col eges-­‐in-­‐growing-­‐
numbers.html  
35  10  %of  the  pupils  attending  Catholic  boards  in  the  Greater  Toronto  Area  are  non-­‐Catholic.  Source:  
The  Globe  and  Mail,  “Muslim  students  enrol ing  in  Catholic  schools  “,  5  September  2011.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/muslim-­‐students-­‐enrol ing-­‐in-­‐catholic-­‐
schools/article4180638/  
36  Daily  Mail  on  line,  “The  Catholic  primary  school  where  90  per  cent  of  the  pupils  are  Muslim”,  15  July  
2012.  The  school  is  in  Birmingham,  and  around  40  pupils  out  of  400  are  Catholics,  while  most  of  the  
rest  are  Muslims  of  Pakistani  origin.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-­‐2174050/The-­‐Catholic-­‐primary-­‐school-­‐90-­‐cent-­‐pupils-­‐
Muslim.html  
37   Message   of   John   Paul   II   on   the   value   and   content   of   freedom   of   conscience   and   of   religion,   14  
November  1980.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /speeches/1980/november/documents/hf_jp_i _spe
_19801114_atto-­‐helsinki_en.html  
 
10 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
responsibility,   and   strive   after   what   is   true   and   right,   wil ing   always   to   join   with  
others  in  cooperative  effort".38  
 
f.  Development  Cooperation  

 
f.1.  Integral  approach  to  development  

 
The  development  is  not  the  mere  unfertile  accumulation  of  economic  wealth39.  On  
the  contrary,  it  is  strongly  linked  to  religious  and  spiritual  life40,  as  wel   as  to  personal  
behaviour,  which  respects  the  fundamental  ethical  values,  loves  the  others  and  sees  
the   creation   as   a   gift   with   intrinsic   value   to   be   safeguarded   also   for   future  
generations.   The   creation   helps   us   understand   our   vocation   and   worth   as   human  
beings41.   In   modern   life,   religious   freedom   is   closely   connected   to   development:  
while   violence   of   some   religious   fundamentalist   bring   destruction   and   death,   the  
deliberate  promotion  of  religious  indifference  or  practical  atheism  deprive  people  of  
spiritual  and  human  resources.42  
 
f.2.  Importance  of  the  work  on  the  ground  
 
Real   development   of   persons,   communities,   people   and   societies   require   a  
permanent,   direct   and   long-­‐term   work   with   those   who   are   in   non-­‐favourable  
circumstances.   The   Catholic   Church   is,   at   this   respect,   one   of   the   most   relevant  
actors   in   personal   and   social   development   all   over   the   world.   Direct   cooperation  
between   churches   and   religious   communities   in   one   hand,   and   the   EU  
Representations   in   these   countries   in   the   other   hand,   can   improve   the   influx   of  
information  in  order  to  a  better  achievement  of  the  goals.  
 
Moreover,   direct   contact   with   reliable   partners,   as   the   Catholic   Church,   in   those  
places   in   which   official   information   can   be   misleading,   or   where   there   are   various  
influential   political   or   economic   interests   provoking   confusion,   or   even   where   the  
difficulties  (violence,  conflicts,  war  situation…)43  are  an  objective  obstacle  for  getting  
reliable  information  for  political  decisions,  the  role  that  the  Catholic  Church  and  its  
                                                 
38   Declaration   on   Religious   Freedom   Dignitatis   Humanae,   on   the   right   of   the   person   and   of   the  
communities   to   social   and   civil   freedom   in   religious   matters,   promulgated   by   Paul   VI,   7   December  
1965,  no.  8.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/i _vatican_council/documents/vat-­‐
ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-­‐humanae_en.html  
39  Encyclical  Letter,  Benedict  XVI,  Caritas  In  Veritate,  paragraph  11.  
40  Encyclical  Letter,  Benedict  XVI,  Caritas  In  Veritate,  paragraph  79.  
41  Message  of  Benedict  XVI  for  the  celebration  of  the  World  Day  of  Peace,  1  January  2010,  If  you  want  
to  cultivate  peace,  protect  Creation.
 
42  Encyclical  Letter,  Benedict  XVI,  Caritas  In  Veritate,  paragraph  29.  
43   For   example,   in   the   case   of   South   Sudan,   The   Economist   expressed   how   the   church   “is   the   only  
organisation  that  survived  decades  of  civil  war  intact.  In  fact,  it  has  thrived,  in  part  because  it  alone  
could  offer  steady,  non-­‐violent  employment  to  the  educated.”  
20  January  2011.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2011/01/church_south_sudan  
 
11 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
more   than   1,700,000   of   priests,   deacons,   seminarians,   religious   people,   lay  
missionaries  and  member  of  secular  institutes  worldwide  spread  is  remarkable.44  
 
f.3.  Promotion  of  health  and  social  development  
 
Charity   and   healthcare   centers   run   in   the   world   by   the   Catholic   Church   include:  
5,305   hospitals,   18,179   dispensaries,   547   Care   Homes   for   people   with   Leprosy,  
17,223  Homes  for  the  elderly,  or  the  chronically  il   or  people  with  a  disability,  9,882  
orphanages.   11,379   crèches;   15,327   marriage   counseling   centers,   34,331   social  
rehabilitation  centers  and  9,391  other  kinds  of  institutions.45  This  massive  number  of  
facilities  (including  religious  persons,  and  further  staff  involved  into  health  and  social  
activities)   show   how   Catholic   Church   (as   wel    as   some   other   denominations)   can  
actively   contribute   for   the   wel being   of   every   human   being,   regardless   of   creed,  
particularly   those   who   are   in   the   poorest   situation,   are   specially   vulnerable,   feel  
discrimination  or  are  totally  excluded  from  the  society.  
 
f.4.  Millennium  Development  Goals  (MDGs)  
 
Great  benefits  wil   accrue  to  all  men  and  women  now  living  in  poverty,  only  if  the  
MDGs  are  understood  and  pursued  in  harmony  with  objective  moral  standards  and  
human   nature.46   As   Cardinal   Peter   Turkson,   president   of   the   Pontifical   Council   for  
Justice  and  Peace,  stated:  “I  urge  the  international  community  not  to  be  afraid  of  the  
poor.  MDGs  should  be  used  to  fight  poverty  and  not  to  eliminate  the  poor!  Instead,  
give   poor   countries   a   friendly   financial   and   trade   mainframe   and   help   them   to  
promote  good  governance  and  the  participation  of  civil  society,  and  Africa  and  the  
other  poor  regions  of  the  world  wil   effectively  contribute  to  the  welfare  of  al .”47  
 
In  this  context,  the  disproportionate  emphasis  put  on  combating  “unsafe  abortion”  
might  be  one  reason  for  the  fact  that  MDG-­‐5  is  one  MDG  towards  which  progress  is  
lagging   behind,   which   casts   serious   doubts   on   the   target   to   reduce   maternal  
mortality  by  three-­‐quarters  by  2015  from  being  reached.  It  may  also  be  viewed  as  
ideological   and   even   as   “cultural   imperialism”   from   the   perspective   of   developing  
countries.  Theresa  Okafor48,  for  example,  in  the  face  of  Europe  embracing  such  an  
approach,   expresses   this   sentiment   as   fol ows:   “Europe   now   seeks   to   radical y   re-­‐
                                                 
44  5,104  bishops,  412,236  priests,  39,564  permanent  deacons,  776,600  religious  man  and  women, 
26,800  members  of  secular  institutes,  335,502  lay  missionaries,  118.990  major  seminarians  102,308 
minor seminarians. Agenzia  Fides,  Catholic  Church  Statistics,  2012.  Viewed  at: 
http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=32421&lan=eng 
45  Agenzia  Fides,  Catholic  Church  Statistics,  2012.  Viewed  at:  http://www.africamission-­‐
mafr.org/statistiques_de_leglise_eng_2012.pdf  
46  Cardinal  Peter  Turkson,  president  of  the  Pontifical  Council  for  Justice  and  Peace  and  head  of  the  
Holy  See  delegation  to  the  summit  of  heads  of  state  and  government  on  the  Mil ennium  Development  
Goals,  September  2010.  Viewed  at:  http://www.zenit.org/article-­‐30446?l=english  
47  Ibídem.  
48  Director  of  the  Foundation  for  African  Cultural  Heritage  (FACH),  a  Nigerian  civil  society  coalition  of  
20  non-­‐governmental  organizations.  
 
12 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
define  African  culture,  values  and  morals  which  have  been  held  dearly  by  Africans.  
The   idea   of   freedom   is   now   misconstrued,   as   rights   have   been   stripped   of   the  
corresponding  responsibility,  which  is  supposed  to  accompany  them.  A  woman  is  now  
told  that  she  has  the  right  to  decide  whatever  she  wants  to  do  with  her  body,  denying  
the  existence  of  a  life.  Freedom  and  rights  are  now  being  cruel y  misinterpreted  to  
mean  that  the  rights  of  the  unborn  child  lie  in  the  hands  of  the  woman”.49  
 
In  any  case,  this  particular  understanding  of  MDG-­‐5  as  including  the  so-­‐called  “safe  
abortion”   usually   provokes   strong   negative   reactions   in   religious   leaders   in   those  
countries   and,   therefore,   limits   the   success   of   the   action   of   the   EU   in   the  
implementation   of   its   developing   policies.   Once   again,   the   respect   for   the   moral  
dimension  of  religious  believes  of  those  persons  and  societies  receiving  the  aid  wil   
permit  a  chance  for  a  better  cooperation.  
 
g.  A  correct  understanding  of  the  role  of  religion  in  the  public  sphere  

 
A   correct   understanding   of   the   role   of   religion   in   the   public   sphere   and   in   their  
relations   with   the   State   is   of   utmost   importance,   in   order   to   avoid   two   extremes:  
fundamentalism  (which  considers  the  law  of  a  particular  religion  as  applicable  to  all  
citizens,   even   those   who   do   not   share   that   religion)   and   ideological   secularism  
(which   emphasises   religion   as   a   threat   to   social   peace   and,   therefore,   intended   to  
exclude  religion  -­‐all  religions-­‐,  from  public  space).  
 
Concerning   fundamentalism,   Pope   John   Paul   II   warned   us:   “Extremely   sensitive  
situations  arise  when  a  specifical y  religious  norm  becomes  or  tends  to  become  the  
law   of   a   state   without   due   consideration   for   the   distinction   between   the   domains  
proper   to   religion   and   to   political   society.  In   practice,   the   identification   of   religious  
law  with  civil  law  can  stifle  religious  freedom,  even  going  so  far  as  to  restrict  or  deny  
other   inalienable   human   rights”.50   This   message   pronounced   20   years   ago   is   stil   
valid,   and   has   unfortunately   been   confirmed   by   the   political   evolution   in   certain  
countries.   Unlike   other   great   religions,   Christianity   has   never   proposed   a   revealed  
law   to   the   State   and   to   society,   that   is   to   say   a   juridical   order   derived   from  
revelation.  
 
But  also  ideological  secularism  -­‐which  is  not  a  neutral  approach  towards  religion  but  
rather  the  opposite,  an  active,  militant  and  partisan  ideology-­‐,  when  seeking  for  the  
breakdown  of  a  right  and  fair  cooperation  between  State  and  religious  institutions,  
support   social   intolerance   against   religious   believers   and   institutions,   and   restricts  
                                                 
49  http://www.comece.eu/europeinfos/en/archive/issue151/article/5015.html  
50   Message   for   the   XXIV   World   Day   of   Peace,   “If   you   want   peace,   respect   the   conscience   of   every  
person”,  
1  January  1991.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-­‐
ii_mes_08121990_xxiv-­‐world-­‐day-­‐for-­‐peace_en.html  
 
13 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
the   public   dimension   of   religious   freedom,   hijacking   the   moral   integrity   of   the  
person.  
 
To  face  both  extremes  there  is  a  clear  need  to  rightly  give  religion  a  positive  meaning  
for   social   life   as   a   driving   ethical   force   and   to   neutralize   any   attempt   to   misuse  
religious  or  secular  discourses  to  promote  intolerance  and  discrimination.  
 
h.  Participation  of  Churches  and  religious  institutions  
 
Respect  for  the  dignity  of  the  human  person  would  seem  to  demand  that,  when  the  
exact   tenor   of   the   exercise   of   religious   freedom   is   being   discussed   or   determined  
with  a  view  to  national  laws  or  international  conventions,  the  institutions  that  are  by  
their  nature  at  the  service  of  religion  should  also  be  brought  in.  If  this  participation  is  
omitted,  there  is  a  danger  of  imposing,  in  so  intimate  a  field  of  man's  life,  rules  or  
restrictions  that  are  opposed  to  his  true  religious  needs.51  
 
i.  Religious  freedom  is  a  priority  of  the  EU  
 
A   recent   document   published   by   the   Secretariat   of   COMECE   entitled   Compilation  
Report  on  Religious  Freedom  at  the  European  Parliament  and  the  European  External  
Action  Service  (EEAS)  (January  2010  –  September  2012),  shows  the  commitment  by  
the  European  Parliament  and  the  EEAS  to  promote  and  defend  religious  freedom  in  
international  area,  as  a  universal  non  negotiable  value.  It  is  part  of  the  EU  main  task  
to   promote   our   values   everywhere   at   every   time,   including   one   of   the   main  
fundamental  rights  as  religious  freedom  is.  
 
Now  it  is  time  for  action,  and  beyond  wel -­‐intentioned  statements  and  declarations,  
concrete  actions  should  be  taken  in  the  EU,  and  particularly  in  the  EEAS,  in  order  to  
reinforce  freedom  of  religion  in  its  external  policies.  As  stated  by  Catherine  Ashton  
last  17  April  at  the  European  Parliament,  on  the  report  on  Human  rights  in  the  world  
and   the   EU's   policy   on   the   matter   the   EU   needs   to   strengthen   its   policy   on   the  
Freedom  of  Religion  or  Belief,  which  is  so  fundamental  to  a  free  society”.52  
 
                                                 
51  Address  of  Pope  John  Paul  II  to  the  34th  General  Assembly  of  the  United  Nations,  2  October  1979,  
point  20.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /speeches/1979/october/documents/hf_jp-­‐
ii_spe_19791002_general-­‐assembly-­‐onu_en.html  
52  http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/12/270  
 
 
14 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
2.  The  concept  of  freedom  of  religion  
 
a.  Introduction  
 
The   enhancement   of   the   efforts   towards   marked   improvements   in   the   respect   for  
the  right  to  freedom  of  religion  in  the  world  should  be  one  of  the  top  priorities  in  the  
EU  initiatives  concerning  human  rights  in  its  external  action.  This  because  such  right  
is  commonly  recognised  as  one  of  the  most  central  ones  among  the  human  rights  
guaranteed  at  the  International  level,  and  it  has  been  rightly  underlined  that  without  
its   due   respect,   a   society   cannot   truly   define   itself   as   “free”.   Action   (and   more  
effective   mechanisms)   are   urgently   needed   because   violations   of   freedom   of  
religion,  by  some  governments  and  non-­‐state  actors,  although  with  different  degrees  
of  gravity  and  intensity,  are  increasing  in  a  number  of  countries  of  the  world,  being  
compounded   by   episodes   of   discrimination,   intolerance   and   violence   against   both  
representatives   and   members   of   Churches   and   religious   communities,   with  
particular  reference  to  religious  minorities.  Obstacles  stil   exist  in  many  parts  of  the  
world   to   the   ful    and   effective   exercise   of   the   fundamental   right   to   freedom   of  
religion  (as  wel   as  of  the  one  to  freedom  of  conscience),  both  at  the  individual  and  
col ective   level,   in   the   public   as   wel    as   in   the   private   sphere.   In   this   context,   it   is  
specifically  important  to  continue  to  monitor  with  intense  attention  the  respect  for  
the  rights  of  religious  minorities,  including  Christians,  in  the  context  of  the  so-­‐called  
‘Arab  Spring’.  It  is  finally  necessary  to  overcome  the  ideological  tendency  to  see  this  
right  (as  wel   as  the  one  to  freedom  of  conscience)  as  ‘problematic’  and  religion  as  a  
‘danger’  or  a  ‘disturbance’  to  society.  
 
b.  International  and  EU  legal  protection    
 
The   right   to   freedom   of   religion   is   clearly   defined   in   a   number   of   International  
instruments.   In   accordance   with   such   texts,   this   right   includes   freedom   to   change  
one’s  religion  and  freedom  either  alone  or  in  community  with  others  and  in  public  or  
private,  to  manifest  one’s  religion  in  teaching,  practice,  worship  and  observance.53  
 
Article  18(1)  of  the  International  Covenant  on  Civil  and  Political  Rights  (ICCPR)  refers  
to  the  right  to  “have  or  to  adopt”  a  religion  of  choice  rather  than  to  change  it.  The  
ICCPR   also   explicitly   refers   in   paragraph   2   of   its   Article   18   to   the   prohibition   of  
subjection   to   coercion,   which   would   impair   one’s   freedom   to   have   or   to   adopt   a  
religion  of  his  choice.  As  for  possible  limitations  to  the  right  to  freedom  of  religion,  
the   European   Convention   on   Human   Rights   (ECHR)   states   at   Article   9(2)   that  
freedom   to   manifest   one's   religion   shall   be   subject   only   to   such   limitations   as   are  
prescribed  by  law  and  are  necessary  in  a  democratic  society  in  the  interests  of  public  
safety,  for  the  protection  of  public  order,  health  or  morals,  or  for  the  protection  of  
                                                 
53  See  Article  18(1)  of  the  Universal  Declaration  of  Human  Rights  (UDHR),  Article  9(1)  of  the  European  
Convention  on  Human  Rights  (ECHR),  Article  10(1)  of  the  Charter  of  Fundamental  Rights  of  the  EU.  
 
15 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
the   rights   and   freedoms   of   others.   However,   in   no   case   this   possibility   must   be  
interpreted  as  allowing  for  any  kind  of  undue  restriction  to  such  right.  
 
It  is  to  be  noted  that  the  explanation  to  the  Charter  of  Fundamental  Rights  of  the  EU  
also  underlines  that  the  right  guaranteed  in  paragraph  1  of  its  Article  10  corresponds  
to  the  right  guaranteed  in  Article  9  of  the  ECHR  and,  in  accordance  with  Article  52(3)  
of  the  Charter,  has  the  same  meaning  and  scope  (as  a  consequence,  limitations  must  
respect   Article   9(2)   of   the   above-­‐said   Convention).   The   ICCPR   similarly   states   at  
Article  18,  paragraph  3  that  the  freedom  to  manifest  one’s  religion  may  be  subject  
only  to  such  limitations  as  are  prescribed  by  law  and  are  necessary  to  protect  public  
safety,  order,  health,  or  morals  or  the  fundamental  rights  and  freedoms  of  others.  
 
It   is   to   be   noted   that   freedom   of   conscience   is   also   included   in   all   the   provisions  
mentioned  above  and  is  strictly  linked  with  freedom  of  religion.  Article  10(2)  of  the  
Charter   of   Fundamental   Rights   of   the   EU   stresses   that   the   right   to   conscientious  
objection  is  recognised,  in  accordance  with  the  national  laws  governing  the  exercise  
of   this   right.   The   explanation   to   the   Charter   clarifies   that   the   right   guaranteed   in  
paragraph   2   corresponds   to   national   constitutional   traditions   and   to   the  
development  of  national  legislation  on  this  issue.  
 
Another  important  aspect  to  be  considered  is  the  link  with  the  liberty  of  parents  and,  
when  applicable,  legal  guardians  to  ensure  the  religious  and  moral  education  of  their  
children  in  conformity  with  their  own  convictions  (Art.  18,  paragraph  4  of  the  ICCPR).  
Moreover,   Article   2   of   the   ECHR   states   that   “(…)   In   the   exercise   of   any   functions  
which  it  assumes  in  relation  to  education  and  to  teaching,  the  State  shal   respect  the  
right  of  parents  to  ensure  such  education  and  teaching  in  conformity  with  their  own  
religious   and   philosophical   convictions”.   Article   14(3)   of   the   EU   Charter   states   that  
“The  freedom  to  found  educational  establishments  with  due  respect  for  democratic  
principles   and   the   right   of   parents   to   ensure   the   education   and   teaching   of   their  
children  in  conformity  with  their  religious,  philosophical  and  pedagogical  convictions  
shal    be   respected,   in   accordance   with   the   national   laws   governing   the   exercise   of  
such   freedom   and   right”.   The   explanation   to   the   Charter   adds   that   the   Article   is  
based  on  the  common  constitutional  traditions  of  Member  States  and  on  Article  2  of  
the   Protocol   to   the   ECHR,   which   reads   as   fol ows:   "No   person   shal    be   denied   the  
right   to   education.   In   the   exercise   of   any   functions   which   it   assumes   in   relation   to  
education  and  to  teaching,  the  State  shal   respect  the  right  of  parents  to  ensure  such  
education   and   teaching   in   conformity   with   their   own   religious   and   philosophical  
convictions".   The   explanation   also   stresses   that   “Regarding   the   right   of   parents,   it  
must  be  interpreted  in  conjunction  with  the  provisions  of  Article  24”  (concerning  the  
rights  of  the  child).  
 
The   above-­‐said   International   instruments   are   sufficient   to   provide   the   minimum  
scope  for  the  actions  foreseen  by  the  future  Toolkit/Guidelines.  In  this  sense  it  is  not  
necessary  to  refer  to  the  2009  Council  conclusions  to  define  the  concept  of  freedom  
 
16 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
of   religion   as   such,   even   though   the   document   constituted,   at   the   time   of   its  
approval,  a  positive  development,  as  for  the  attention  to  be  devoted  to  the  topic.  
 
The   concept   of   freedom   of   religion   also   requires   some   clarifications,   as   in   some  
instances   there   are   attempts   to   water   it   down.   First   of   all,   ‘freedom   of   worship’,  
presented   by   some   parties   and   actors   as   a   satisfactory   answer   to   the   relevant  
problems,  is  but  one  aspect  of  the  right  to  freedom  of  religion,  as  the  latter  includes  
(as   seen   above)   the   freedom   to   change   one’s   religion   and   to   also   manifest   it   in  
teaching,   practice   and   observance,   at   the   individual,   col ective,   private   and   public  
level.   Therefore,   ensuring   mere   freedom   of   worship   does   not   equal   with   ful   
guarantee  and  respect  for  the  right  to  freedom  of  religion.  
 
Secondly,   the   public   element   is   central   to   religious   freedom:   with   regard   to   most  
religions,   Christianity   included,   to   prevent   believers   from   expressing   their   faith  
publicly,  while  reducing  their  religion  to  a  private  phenomenon,  gravely  violates  their  
fundamental  right  to  freedom  of  religion.  
 
Thirdly,  mere  tolerance  (on  the  part  of  the  State  and/or  society  and/or  a  particular  
religious  community)  is  by  no  means  sufficient  to  ensure  ful   respect  for  the  right  to  
freedom  of  religion.  Tolerance,  if  it  is  not  accompanied  by  a  ful   set  of  rights  and  by  
the  complete  respect  for  the  right  to  freedom  of  religion,  just  leads  to  submission.  
 
Fourthly,  an  equally  firm  stance  should  be  taken  against  the  instrumentalisation  and  
abuse   of   (or   through)   blasphemy   laws   for   the   purpose   of   persecuting   members   of  
religious  minorities:  while  such  laws  are  often  promoted  with  the  pretext  of  reducing  
social   tensions,   in   reality   they   only   contribute   to   their   increase   and   to   the   rise   of  
intolerance,  in  particular  towards  religious  minorities.    We  have  to  take  into  account  
that,   as   the   Parliamentary   Assembly   of   the   Council   of   Europe   recognizes   in   its  
Recommendation  1805  (2007):  “even  though  today  prosecutions  in  this  respect  are  
rare   in   member   states,   they   are   legion   in   other   countries   of   the   world.”54   In   some  
European   non-­‐EU   member   States   “prosecution   for   defamation   is   misused   in   what  
could   be   seen   as   attempts   by   the   authorities   to   silence   media   criticism”,   as  
highlighted   by   PACE   Resolution   1577   (2007)  ”Towards   decriminalisation   of  
defamation”.55  
 
                                                 
54 PACE  Recommendation  1805  (2007),  Blasphemy,  religious  insults  and  hate  speech  against  persons  
on  grounds  of  their  religion  (point  4):  Viewed  at:  
http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/EREC1805.htm  
55  PACE  Resolution  1577  (2007)  ”Towards  decriminalisation  of  defamation” 
http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/adoptedtext/ta07/eres1577.htm 
In  countries  as,  for  example,  Albania  or  Azerbaijan,  in  which  such  abuse  leads  also  to  a  genuine  media  
self-­‐censorship   and   causing   progressive   shrinkage   of   democratic   debate   and   of   the   circulation   of  
general   information   (point   8).   In   many   member   states   the   law   provides   for   prison   sentences   for  
defamation  and  that  some  stil   impose  them  in  practice  –  for  example,  Azerbaijan  and  Turkey  (point  
11).  
 
17 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
The  UN  Human  Rights  Committee  published  on  21  July  2011  its  General  Comment  
No.   34   on   Article   19   of   the   ICCPR   (freedom   of   opinion   and   expression),   whose  
paragraph  48  states:  
 
“48.   Prohibitions  of  displays  of  lack  of  respect  for  a  religion  or  other  belief  system,  
including  blasphemy  laws,  are  incompatible  with  the  Covenant,  except  in  the  specific  
circumstances   envisaged   in   article   20,   paragraph   2,   of   the   Covenant.   Such  
prohibitions  must  also  comply  with  the  strict  requirements  of  article  19,  paragraph  3,  
as   wel    as   such   articles   as   2,   5,   17,   18   and   26.   Thus,   for   instance,   it   would   be  
impermissible  for  any  such  laws  to  discriminate  in  favour  of  or  against  one  or  certain  
religions  or  belief  systems,  or  their  adherents  over  another,  or  religious  believers  over  
non-­‐believers.  Nor  would  it  be  permissible  for  such  prohibitions  to  be  used  to  prevent  
or  punish  criticism  of  religious  leaders  or  commentary  on  religious  doctrine  and  tenets  
of  faith.”56  
 
We   must   pay   attention   to   the   fact   that   at   the   UN   level,   the   joint   action   by   some  
Muslim  countries  (in  coordination  with  the  Organization  of  the  Islamic  Conference)  
in  the  Human  Rights  Council  aimed  at  a  UN  General  Assembly  Resolution  62/154  (18  
December   2007)57   "combating   defamation   of   religions",   an   instrument   strongly  
criticized  by  the  restrictive  implications  for  freedom  of  expression  and  many  other  
fundamental   rights,   and   the   sectarian   use   of   blasphemy   laws   in   certain   Muslim-­‐
majority   countries   to   suppress   religious   minorities,   particularly   Christians.   By   the  
way,  this  Resolution  only  mentions  explicitly  the  attacks  towards  one  single  religion:  
Islam.58  
 
We  also  emphases  that  there  is  an  important  difference  between  a  certain  criticism  
of  a  religion,  belief  or  school  of  thought  and  attacks  on  individuals  because  of  their  
adherence  to  that  religion  or  belief,  as  explicitly  was  made  in  a  joint  declaration  by  
the   UN   Special   Rapporteur   on   Freedom   of   Opinion   and   Expression,   the   OSCE  
Representative  on  Freedom  of  the  Media,  the  OAS  Special  Rapporteur  on  Freedom  
of  Expression  and  the  ACHPR  (African  Commission  on  Human  and  Peoples’  Rights)  
Special   Rapporteur   on   Freedom   of   Expression   and   Access   to   Information.59   In   this  
                                                 
56 http://bangkok.ohchr.org/programme/documents/general-comment-34.aspx 
57 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/47da45112.html 
58  “The  “defamation  of  religion”  resolutions  establish  as  the  primary  focus  and  concern  the  protection  
of   ideas   and   religions   generally,   rather   than   protecting   the   rights   of   individuals   to   practice   their  

religion,  which  is  the  chief  purpose  of  international  religious  freedom  law.  Furthermore,  “defamation  
of  religion”  replaces  the  existing  objective  criterion  of  limitations  on  speech  where  there  is  an  intent  to  
incite  hatred  or  violence  against  religious  believers  with  a  subjective  criterion  that  considers  whether  
the   religion   or   its   believers   feel   offended   by   the   speech.”
  See   ECLJ,   “Combating   Defamation   of  
Religions”  Submission  to  the  UN  Office  of  the  High  Commissioner  of  Human  Rights.  Viewed  at:  
http://eclj.org/PDF/080626_ECLJ_submission_to_OHCHR_on_Combating_Defamation_of_Religions_J
une2008.pdf  
59 http://www.osce.org/fom/35639 
 
18 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
declaration   the   four   high   level   rapporteurs   extressed   their   “concerned   about   the  
resolutions  on  “defamation  of  religions”  adopted  by  the  UN  Commission  on  Human  
Rights  and  its  successor,  the  Human  Rights  Council,  since  1999,  and  the  UN  General  
Assembly   since   2005   (see   General   Assembly   Res.   60/150,   61/164,   62/154;  
Commission   on   Human   Rights   Res.   1999/82,   2000/84,   2001/4,   2002/9,   2003/4,  
2004/6,  2005/3;  Human  Rights  Council  Res.  4/9,  7/19)”.    Therefore,  they  hold  that  
“the   concept   of   ‘defamation   of   religions’   does   not   accord   with   international  
standards   regarding   defamation,   which   refer   to   the   protection   of   reputation   of  
individuals,   while   religions,   like   al    beliefs,   cannot   be   said   to   have   a   reputation   of  
their   own”   and   that   “International   organisations,   including   the   United   Nations  
General  Assembly  and  Human  Rights  Council,  should  desist  from  the  further  adoption  
of   statements   supporting   the   idea   of   ‘defamation   of   religions’.”   This   concept   of  
“defamation   of   religions”,   taking   into   account   its   origin   and   context,   is   a   tool   that  
clearly  targets  non-­‐Muslim  (or  even  Muslim  minorities  of  other  Muslim  schools)  in  
certain  Muslim-­‐majority  countries,  where  religious  freedom  is  in  fact  denied.  
 
On  the  other  hand,  religious  groups  should  tolerate,  as  must  other  groups,  critical  
public   statements   and   debate   about   their   activities   and   teachings,   provided   that  
such  criticism  does  not  amount  to  intentional  and  gratuitous  insults  or  hate  speech  
and   does   not   constitute   incitement   to   disturb   the   peace   or   to   violence   and  
discrimination   against   adherents   of   a   particular   religion.60      Blasphemy   and  
defamation   of   religions   legislation   –which   quite   frequently   are   broad   and   not  
precise-­‐  can  easily  lead  to  abuse  and  misuse  in  their  application,  particularly  in  the  
case   of   targeted   minority   religious   groups   in   those   countries   where   strict   religious  
laws  become  state  law.  In  this  context,  this  legislation  usually  goes  beyond  the  above  
said   limits,   but   denies   the   most   basic   rights   to   express   publicly   one’s   religion,   or  
criticise   the   majority   religion,   which   is   by   itself   many   times   considered   as  
inadmissible   by   strict   religious   laws   which   are   enforced   by   the   states,   and   entails  
punishment.  
 
Finally,   freedom   of   religion   cannot   be   understood   merely   as   immunity   from  
coercion,   as   this   would   gravely   impoverish   its   value   and   effectiveness.   It   must   be  
protected  both  at  the  level  of  social  practices  and  of  legislation.  
 
Therefore,  the  main  dimensions  of  the  religious  freedom  to  be  protected  include61:  
 
a)  at  the  personal  level:  
                                                                                                                                           
 
60 Recommendation  1805  (2007),  Blasphemy,  religious  insults  and  hate  speech  against  persons  on  
grounds  of  their  religion,  point  5.  Viewed  at:  
http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/EREC1805.htm  
61   John   Paul   II,   Message   on   the   value   and   content   of   freedom   of   conscience   and   of   religion,   14  
November  1980.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i /speeches/1980/november/documents/hf_jp_i _spe
_19801114_atto-­‐helsinki_en.html  
 
19 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
-­‐freedom   to   hold   or   not   to   hold   a   particular   faith   and   to   join   the   corresponding  
confessional  community;  
-­‐freedom   to   perform   acts   of   prayer   and   worship,   individually   and   col ectively,   in  
private   or   in   public,   and   to   have   churches   or   places   of   worship   according   to   the  
needs  of  the  believers;  
-­‐freedom   for   parents   to   educate   their   children   in   the   religious   convictions   that  
inspire  their  own  life,  and  to  have  them  attend  catechetical  and  religious  instruction  
as  provided  by  their  faith  community;  
-­‐freedom  for  families  to  choose  the  schools  or  other  means  which  provide  this  sort  
of  education  for  their  children,  without  having  to  sustain  directly  or  indirectly  extra  
charges  which  would  in  fact  deny  them  this  freedom;  
-­‐freedom  for  individuals  to  receive  religious  assistance  wherever  they  are,  especially  
in  public  health  institutions  (clinics  and  hospitals),  in  military  establishments,  during  
compulsory  public  service,  and  in  places  of  detention;  
-­‐freedom,  at  personal,  civic  or  social  levels,  from  any  form  of  coercion  to  perform  
acts   contrary   to   one's   faith,   or   to   receive   an   education   or   to   join   groups   or  
associations  with  principles  opposed  to  one's  religious  convictions;  
-­‐freedom   not   to   be   subjected,   on   religious   grounds,   to   forms   of   restriction   and  
discrimination,   vis-­‐a-­‐vis   one's   fel ow   citizens,   in   all   aspects   of   life   (in   all   matters  
concerning   one's   career,   including   study,   employment   or   profession;   one's  
participation  in  civic  and  social  responsibilities,  etc.).  
-­‐   freedom   to   observe   days   of   rest   and   to   celebrate   holidays   and   ceremonies   in  
accordance  with  the  precepts  of  one’s  religion  or  belief;  
 
b)   at   the   community   level,   account   has   to   be   taken   of   the   fact   that   religious  
denominations,  in  bringing  together  believers  of  a  given  faith,  exist  and  act  as  social  
bodies   organized   according   to   their   own   doctrinal   principles   and   institutional  
purposes.   The   Church   as   such,   and   confessional   communities   in   general,   needs   to  
enjoy   specific   liberties   in   order   to   conduct   their   life   and   to   pursue   their   purposes;  
among  such  liberties  the  fol owing  are  to  be  mentioned  especially:  
 
-­‐freedom  to  have  their  own  internal  hierarchy  or  equivalent  ministers  freely  chosen  
by  the  communities  according  to  their  constitutional  norms;  
-­‐freedom  for  religious  authorities  (notably,  in  the  Catholic  Church,  for  bishops  and  
other   ecclesiastical   superiors)   to   exercise   their   ministry   freely,   ordain   priests   or  
ministers,   appoint   to   ecclesiastical   offices,   communicate   and   have   contacts   with  
 
20 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
those  belonging  to  their  religious  denomination;  
-­‐freedom  to  have  their  own  institutions  for  religious  training  and  theological  studies,  
where  candidates  for  priesthood  and  religious  consecration  can  be  freely  admitted;  
-­‐freedom  to  receive  and  publish  religious  books  related  to  faith  and  worship,  and  to  
have  free  use  of  them;  
-­‐freedom   to   proclaim   and   communicate   the   teaching   of   the   faith,   whether   by   the  
spoken  or  the  written  word,  inside  as  wel   as  outside  places  of  worship,  and  to  make  
known  their  moral  teaching  on  human  activities  and  on  the  organization  of  society:  
this   being   in   accordance   with   the   commitment   to   facilitate   the   spreading   of  
information,   of   culture,   of   exchange   of   knowledge   and   experiences   in   the   field   of  
education;   which   corresponds,   moreover,   in   the   religious   field   to   the   Church's  
mission  of  evangelization;  
-­‐freedom  to  use  the  media  of  social  communication  (press,  radio,  television)  for  the  
same  purpose;  
-­‐freedom  to  carry  out  educational,  charitable  and  social  activities  so  as  to  put  into  
practice   the   religious   precept   of   love   for   neighbor,   particularly   for   those   most   in  
need.62  
Furthermore,  with  regard  to  religious  communities  which,  like  the  Catholic  Church,  
have   a   supreme   authority   responsible   at   world   level   (in   line   with   the   directives   of  
their  faith)  for  the  unity  of  communion  that  binds  together  all  pastors  and  believers  
in   the   same   confession   (a   responsibility   exercised   through   Magisterium   and  
jurisdiction):  freedom  to  maintain  mutual  relations  of  communication  between  that  
authority  and  the  local  pastors  and  religious  communities;  freedom  to  make  known  
the  documents  and  texts  of  the  Magisterium  (encyclicals,  instructions,  etc.);  
But   also,   at   the   international   level:   freedom   of   free   exchange   in   the   field   of  
communication,   cooperation,   religious   solidarity,   and   more   particularly   the  
possibility   of   holding   multi-­‐national   or   international   meetings;   and   freedom   for  
religious   communities   to   exchange   information   and   other   contributions   of   a  
theological  or  religious  nature.  
 
                                                 
62  Article   6   f)   of   the   UN   Declaration   on   the   Elimination   of   Al    Forms   of   Intolerance   and   of  
Discrimination  Based  on  Religion  or  Belief,  25  November  1981:  “(…)  The  right  to  freedom  of  thought,  
conscience,  religion  or  belief  shal   include,  inter  alia  ,  the  fol owing  freedoms:  f)  To  solicit  and  receive  

voluntary  financial  and  other  contributions  from  individuals  and  institutions”. 
 
21 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
c.  The  inherent  communitarian  and  institutional  dimension  of  religious  freedom  
A   community   is   much   more   that   the   mere   sum   of   its   members.   A   restricted  
individual   approach   to   religious   freedom   does   not   recognised   this   fact,   and   also  
becomes   problematic,   because   it   does   not   give   the   due   protection   to   an   aspect  
which  is  inherent  to  religious  freedom,  as  it  is  the  right  to  religious  association.  
The   case-­‐law   of   the   European   Court   of   Human   Rights   is,   at   this   respect,   clear   and  
rotund.    In  the  case  of  Metropolitan  Church  of  Bessarabia  v.  Moldova,  the  Strasbourg  
Court   stated   that:   “Since   religious   communities   traditional y   exist   in   the   form   of  
organised   structures,   Article   9   must   be   interpreted   in   the   light   of   Article   11   of   the  
Convention,  which  safeguards  associative  life  against  unjustified  State  interference.  
(…)  Indeed,  the  autonomous  existence  of  religious  communities  is  indispensable  for  
pluralism   in   a   democratic   society   and   is   thus   an   issue   at   the   very   heart   of   the  
protection   which   Article   9   affords.   In   addition,   one   of   the   means   of   exercising   the  
right  to  manifest  one’s  religion,  especial y  for  a  religious  community,  in  its  col ective  
dimension,   is   the   possibility   of   ensuring   judicial   protection   of   the   community,   its  
members  and  its  assets,  so  that  Article  9  must  be  seen  not  only  in  the  light  of  Article  
11,  but  also  in  the  light  of  Article  6.”63  
Apart   from   personal   individual   relationships,   there   are   relations   between   the  
community  and  its  members  and,  moreover  relations  of  the  community  as  such  with  
third   parties   (individuals,   other   communities   and   entities,   the   public   authority...).  
This  col ective  aspect  of  Article  9  is  indeed  emphasised  by  recognition  that  a  church  
or   other   religious   organisation   may   be   able   to   establish   “victim”   status   within   the  
meaning   of   Article   34   of   the   Convention.   In   other   words,   for   the   purpose   of  
satisfying   admissibility   criteria,   a   church   may   be   recognised   as   having   the   right   to  
challenge   an   interference   with   respect   for   religious   belief   when   it   can   show   it   is  
bringing  a  challenge  in  a  representative  capacity  on  behalf  of  its  members.64  
Furthermore,  the  recognition  of  representative  status  in  respect  of  an  association  of  
members  is  only  to  extend  to  religious  belief  and  not  to  allegations  of  interference  
with  thought  or  conscience.  In  the  case  Verein  “Kontakt-­‐Information-­‐Therapie”  and  
Hagen   v.   Austria   the   applicant   association   was   a   private   non-­‐   profitmaking  
organisation   operating   drug   abuse   rehabilitation   centres.   The   dispute   concerned   a  
                                                 
63  Metropolitan  Church  of  Bessarabia  v.  Moldova,  13  December  2001,  §118.  
64  For  example,  X  and  Church  of  Scientology  v.  Sweden  (dec.);  and  Canea  Catholic  Church  v.  Greece,  
§31.    See:  Jim  Murdoch,  Protecting  the  right  to  freedom  of  thought,  conscience  and  religion  under  the  
European   Convention   on   Human   Rights,
  Council   of   Europe   human   rights   handbooks,   Council   of  
Europe  Strasbourg,  2012,  p.  24.  Viewed  at:  
http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/capacitybuilding/Source/documentation/hb09_rightfreedom
_en.pdf  
 
22 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
requirement   imposed   upon   therapists   to   disclose   information   relating   to   their  
clients,  a  requirement  characterised  by  the  applicants  as  a  matter  of  conscience.  For  
the   Commission,   this   part   of   the   application   fel    to   be   rejected   ratione   personae:  
“The  association  does  not  claim  to  be  a  victim  of  a  violation  of  its  own  Convention  
rights.  Moreover,  the  rights  primarily  invoked,  i.e.  the  right  to  freedom  of  conscience  
under   Article   9   of   the   Convention   and   the   right   not   to   be   subjected   to   degrading  
treatment  or  punishment  (Article  3),  are  by  their  very  nature  not  susceptible  of  being  
exercised   by   a   legal   person   such   as   a   private   association.   Insofar   as   Article   9   is  
concerned,  the  Commission  considers  that  a  distinction  must  be  made  in  this  respect  
between  the  freedom  of  conscience  and  the  freedom  of  religion,  which  can  also  be  
exercised  by  a  church  as  such.”65  
 
On   the   other   hand,   the   col ective   dimension   of   religious   freedom   can’t   be   fully  
redirect   to   and   covered   by   the   right   to   assembly   (Article   21   ICCPR),   among   other  
reasons,  because  the  limits  of  religious  freedom  and  the  right  to  assembly  are  not  
exactly  the  same.    The  right  to  assembly  in  Article  21  ICCPR  can  be  restricted  on  the  
following  grounds:  “national  security  or  public  safety,  public  order  (ordre  public),  the  
protection  of  public  health  or  morals  or  the  protection  of  the  rights  and  freedoms  of  

others.”   Religious  freedom  under  Article  18  ICCPR  can  be  limited  only  on  similar,  but  
not   exactly   the   same   grounds:   “public   safety,   order,   health,   or   morals   or   the  
fundamental   rights   and   freedoms   of   others.”   A   certain   disparity   in   the   wording  
concerning  the  grounds  for  a  lawful  restriction  or  limitation  of  both  rights  appears  in  
the   two   provisions   mentioned.   For   example,   national   security   is   not   explicitly  
mentioned   in   Article   18,   while   it   is   foreseen   in   Article   21.      To   bring   the   col ective  
dimension  of  religious  freedom  under  the  ful   scope  of  the  right  to  assembly  might  
create  further  limitations  to  religious  freedom,  not  included  in  Article  18  ICCPR.  
 
For   these   reasons,   to   limit   the   right   to   freedom   of   religion   at   the   individual   level  
would  go  against  standards  set  by  international  instruments.  
d.  The  use  of  standard  international  law  terminology  
The  wording  of  Article  17  TFEU  in  the  EU  external  policies,  that  is  to  say,  in  relation  
with  third  countries,  is  inappropriate,  because  this  provision  is  related  exclusively  to  
the  EU  internal  dialogue  between,  in  one  hand,  the  EU,  and  in  the  other  hand,  the  
churches   and   religious   associations   or   communities,   as   wel    as   philosophical   and  
non-­‐confessional  organizations.  
The  EEAS  and  their  representation  and  staff  are  working  in  third  countries  in  a  very  
diverse  world,  which  is  becoming  more  and  more  religious,  as  figures  show.    In  this  
context,   the   most   common   and   practical   international   law   binding   standard   on  
                                                 
65   Verein   “Kontakt-­‐Information-­‐Therapie”   and   Hagen   v.   Austria   (decision   on   the   admissibility,   12  
October  1988).  See  also,  X  and  Church  of  Scientology  v.  Sweden,  Dec.  5.5.79,  D.R.  16  p.  68.  
 
23 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
religious   freedom   is   Article   18   ICCPR66,   taking   into   account   that   167   States   are  
Parties  to  the  ICCPR.67  
The   substitution   of   the   commonly   accepted   terminology   concerning   religious  
freedom   (and   believe)   by   other   expressions   is   misleading   and   can   create   more  
difficulties  in  the  relations  with  third  countries  which  have  accessed  or  ratified  the  
ICCPR,  but  stil   have  a  limited  recognition  of  religious  freedom  or  tolerate  or  commit  
clear  violations  against  this  fundamental  right.  
To  maintain  the  current  terminological  consensus  at  international  level  in  the  EEAS  
Guidelines  on  religious  freedom  wil   lead  to  a  better  understanding  amongst  the  EU  
and  third  countries.  
 
 
 
 
 
                                                 
66  See  also  the  UN  Declaration  on  the  Elimination  of  Al   Forms  of  Intolerance  and  of  Discrimination  
Based  on  Religion  or  Belief,  25  November  1981  
67  http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-­‐4&chapter=4&lang=en  
 
 
24 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
3.  Guidelines  for  the  Promotion  and  Protection  of  Religious  Freedom  
 
The  EEAS  is  invited  to  urgently  draft  a  Toolkit  to  Promote  and  Protect  the  Enjoyment  
of  Religious  Freedom68,  aimed  at  providing  the  staff  in  EU  Headquarters,  EU  Member  
States’  capitals,  EU  Delegations,  Representations  and  Embassies  with  an  operational  
set  of  tools  to  be  used  in  contacts  with  third-­‐countries,  as  wel   as  with  Churches  and  
international  and  civil  society  organisations,  in  order  to  protect  Christians  within  its  
external  action.  
 
a.  Monitoring  
 
Amongst  the  cases  to  be  monitored,  reported  and  countered  by  the  EEAS  are:  
 
-­‐  kil ings  and  violence;  
 
-­‐  prohibition,  confiscation  and  destruction  of  places  of  worship;  
 
-­‐  prohibition,  confiscation  and  destruction  of  religious  publications;  
 
-­‐  prohibition  of  religious  training  and  education;  
 
-­‐  prohibition  of  public  or  private  religious  ceremonies;  
 
-­‐  prohibition  of  wearing  of  religious  objects  or  symbols;  
 
-­‐   imprisonments   because   of   teaching   of   one’s   religion/punishments   for  
upholding  truths  of  one’s  faith  (in  some  cases  even  for  simply  worshipping,  
including  in  private  places);  
 
-­‐   abuse   of   defamation   and   blasphemy   laws,   and   more   generally   speaking,  
undue  restriction  of  religious  expression;  
 
-­‐  prohibition  of  conversion  into  other  faith;  
 
-­‐  forced  conversion;  
 
-­‐  requirement  of  the  designation  of  religion  on  passports  or  national  identity  
documents;  
 
-­‐  discrimination  in  the  access  to  the  State  public  service  as  public  servants;  
                                                 
68  Similar  to  the  Toolkit  to  Promote  and  Protect  the  Enjoyment  of  all  Human  Rights  by  Lesbian,  Gay,  
Bisexual  and  Transgender  (LGBT)  People  
already  sent  to  the  Political  and  Security  Committee  (17  June  
2010).  At:  http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/st11179.en10.pdf  
 
25 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
 
-­‐   lack   of   recognition   of   legal   personality   of   churches   and   religious  
communities.  
 
b.  Roadmap  

 
It  could  be  useful  to  draft  an  annual  roadmap  as  to  respect  for  the  rights  of  those  
who   are   persecuted   because   of   their   religious   believes,   mainly   Christians,   in   the  
world,  so  as  to  orientate  the  actions  of  the  EEAS  in  protecting  religious  freedom.  
 
c.  Prevention  of  exodus  and  asylum  measures  
 
The  EEAS  is  invited  to  adopt  and  implement  a  decision  to  prevent  the  expulsion  of  
religious  persecuted  seeking  asylum,  mainly  Christians,  -­‐  due  to  the  violence  against  
them   in   their   home   countries   -­‐   from   any   EU   Member   State,   as   already   decided   in  
some  European  Court  of  Human  Rights69  cases  and  as  proposed  by  the  UNHCR70.  A  
comprehensive  policy  is  needed  in  order  to  limit  the  exodus;  in  particular  by  granting  
material   support   to   the   States   and   communities   offering   a   local   refuge   to   the  
Christian  minorities  (such  as  Syrian  Christians,  Kurds,  Jordanians,  etc.),  and  helping  to  
relocate  Christian  refugees  in  their  home  countries.  
 
Of   particular   importance   is   to   monitor   specific   aspects   of   the   asylum   process  
concerning   applications   made   by   religious   persecuted   persons.   At   this   respect,  
cooperation  between  DG  Home  and  EEAS  is  important,  in  order  to:  
 
                                                 
69  The  UNHCR  sent  a  Letter  to  the  ECHR  on  forced  returns  to  Iraq,  recommending  “that  States  refrain  
from  forcibly  returning  Iraqis  who  originate  from  the  five  Central  Governorates  or  who  belong  to  the  
specific  groups  which  have  been  identified  in  UNHCR  '  s  guidelines  to  be  at  risk  and  who  originate  from  
the  Southern  Governorates  and  Al-­‐Anbar,  UNHCR  recommends  against  such  forced  returns  until  such  
time  as  there  is  substantial  improvement  in  the  security  and  human  rights  situation  in  the  country.”
 
At:  http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4cda5c362.html  
Since  22  October  2010,  the  Court  has  applied  Rule  39  in  a  number  of  cases  against,  amongst  others,  
the  Netherlands,  Sweden  and  the  United  Kingdom.  
70  See,  UNHCR  Eligibility  Guidelines  for  Assessing  the  International  Protection  Needs  of  Iraqi  Asylum-­‐
Seekers.
 At:  http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/49f569cf2.html  
 “UNHCR  recommends  that,  unless  volunteering  for  return,  no  Iraqi  from  the  five  Central  Governorates  
and  those  belonging  to  the  specific  groups  which  have  been  identified  to  be  at  risk  from  the  Southern  
Governorates  and  Al-­‐Anbar,  should  be  forcibly  returned  to  Iraq  until  such  time  as  there  is  substantial  

improvement  in  the  security  and  human  rights  situation  in  the  country.  When  considering  return  of  
persons  originating  from  the  Southern  Governorates  or  Al-­‐Anbar  Governorate  not  found  to  be  in  need  
of  international  protection,  UNHCR  recommends  that  caution  needs  to  be  exercised  with  regard  to  the  
evolving   security   situation   in   given   areas,   as   well   as   absorption   capacity,   availability   of   community  
support  and  services.  UNHCR,  in  particular,  advises  against  the  return  of  persons  to  areas  from  which  
they  do  not  originate.”
 Note  50  of  the  Note  on  the  Continued  Applicability  of  the  April  2009  UNHCR  
Eligibility  Guidelines  for  Assessing  the  International  Protection  Needs  of  Iraqi  Asylum-­‐Seeker.
 
At:  http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-­‐bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?docid=4c4fed282&page=search  
 
26 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
-  identify,  manage  and  monitor  the  EU’s  technical  and  financial  means  in  
favour  of  those  who  are  persecuted  for  their  religious  believes  in  third-­‐
countries;  
-  protect   persecuted,   when   temporarily   transiting   via   a   neighbouring  
country,  from  any  further  economic  burden  (e.g.  fines)  in  order  to  allow  
them  to  resettle  in  an  available  third-­‐country;  
-  call  for  the  full  recognition  and  support  of  Churches  and  other  religious  
entities  running  charitable  activities  in  third-­‐countries  of  asylum,  when  
serving  migrants  and  asylum  seekers.  
 
d.  Supporting  political  and  legislative  processes,  and  conditionality  clause  
 
With   respect   to   third-­‐countries   where   religious   believers,   mainly   Christians,   are  
persecuted   or   whose   rights   are   not   ful y   recognized,   it   is   key   the   insertion   of   a  
conditionality   clause   on   respect   for   religious   freedom   both   in   private   and   public  
spheres   in   any   agreement   with   those   third-­‐countries,   taking   into   account   the  
framework   of   the   European   Neighbourhood   Policy   (ENP),   the   Euro-­‐Mediterranean  
Partnership   (EUROMED),   the   Partnership   and   Cooperation   Agreements   (PCA),   the  
Association   Agreements   (AA)71,   Action   Plans72   and   Joint   Strategies73.   This   includes  
the  non-­‐negotiable  need  to  improve  national  Constitutions  to  respect  every  religion  
or  doctrine,  so  that  all  citizens  are  equally  respected.74  
 
The   EEAS   should   also   use   this   clause   in   its   relations   with   those   third   countries   to  
abolish   all   discriminatory   laws   against   religious   minorities,   in   particular   legislation  
against  blasphemy  and  apostasy.  
 
The  “more  for  more”  principle  is  also  a  useful  one  to  develop  fair  relationships  with  
third   countries,   granting   them   funds   and   monitoring   their   appropriate   use  
proportionally   to   the   effective   implementation   of   the   Constitution   and   legislation  
which   protect   religious   minorities   and   recognize   their   rights   without   any  
discrimination.   The   protection   of   the   religious   patrimony   is   of   great   importance,  
including  not  only  the  religious  buildings,  but  also  workplaces,  schools,  universities,  
etc.  
                                                 
71   For   example,   in   the   Proposal   for   a   Council   Decision   on   the   conclusion   of   a   Partnership   and  
Cooperation  Agreement  between  the  European  Union  and  its  Member  States,  of  the  one  part,  and  the  
Republic  of  Iraq,  of  the  other  part
 (5-­‐11-­‐2010).  
72   e.   g.   Recommendation   No  1/2007   of   the   EU-­‐Egypt   Association   Council   of   6  March   2007   on   the  
implementation  of  the  EU-­‐Egypt  Action  Plan  (OJ  L  230,  28.8.2008,  p.  19–44).  
At:  http://eur-­‐lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:230:0019:0044:EN:PDF  
73  e.  g,  Cooperation  between  the  European  Union  and  Iraq.  Joint  Strategy  Paper  2011  –  2013.  At:  
http://www.eeas.europa.eu/iraq/docs/2011_2013_jsp_nip_en.pdf  
74  Following  the  example  of  the  Preamble  of  the  Polish  Constitution:  “(…)  We,  the  Polish  Nation  -­‐  all  
citizens  of  the  Republic,
 Both  those  who  believe  in  God  as  the  source  of  truth,  justice,  good  and  
beauty,  As  wel   as  those  not  sharing  such  faith  but  respecting  those  universal  values  as  arising  from  
other  sources,  Equal  in  rights  and  obligations  towards  the  common  good  -­‐  Poland,  (…)”.
 At:  
http://www.trybunal.gov.pl/eng/index.htm  
 
27 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
The   EEAS   can   play   a   major   role   supporting   all   legislative   initiatives   and   political  
projects  in  third  countries  to  permit  the  ful   recognition,  of  equal  rights  to  religious  
minorities   (members,   communities   and   institutions)   both   de   jure   and   de   facto,  
avoiding  any  discrimination  towards  them,  including,  for  example,  the  right  to  free  
movement   and   to   settle   down   in   any   part   of   the   country,   the   restitution   of  
confiscated  properties  and  the  fair  distribution  of  lands.  This  includes:  the  access  to  
justice  for  those  who  are  persecuted,  the  respect  for  their  rights  to  a  fair  procedure,  
to   prosecute   the   murderers   and   their   leaders   to   bring   them   to   the   courts,   and   to  
guarantee  the  effective  execution  of  the  judgments.  
 
The  EEAS  may  assist  emerging  democracies  in  implementing  freedom  of  religion.  
 
e.  Soft  diplomacy  
 
“Soft  diplomacy”  is  also  a  good  instrument  to  promote  freedom  of  religion,  including  
support  to  all  social  and  cultural  projects,  which  aim  at  developing  all  regions  of  the  
countries,   in   particular   those   where   religious   minorities   are   in   a   disadvantaged  
situation.    
f.  Collecting  and  sharing  reliable  data  
 
The  EEAS  can  be  a  key  actor  to  col ect  reliable  data  and  share  information  to  other  
EU  institutions  in  order  to  promote  religious  freedom  in  the  external  dimension  of  
other  policies  (for  example,  migration  and  asylum  in  relation  to  DG  Home;  or  trade  
agreements  with  respect  to  DG  Trade,  etc.).  The  EEAS  can  actively  intervene  in  best  
practices  sharing  in  the  EU  institutions  and  the  Member  States.  
 
g.  Awareness  
 
Awareness  of  the  importance  of  religious  freedom  amongst  foreign  policy  decision  
makers  in  the  EU  is  very  relevant,  especially  by  developing  educational  programmes  
and  distributing  material,  which  address  also  religious  stereotypes  and  bias.  Special  
training  for  EEAS  staff  (and  of  the  EU  Delegations)  is  key  to  understand  the  role  of  
religions   in   international   affairs,   and   look   for   solutions   when   they   have   to   face   a  
question  with  a  religious  dimension.  
 
h.  Immediate  reaction  mechanism  
 
An   EEAS   immediate   reaction   mechanism   for   an   emergency   situation   in   which  
violations  of  religious  freedom  are  taken  place,  would  be  advisable.  
 
 
 
 

 
28 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
i.  Special  rapporteur  
 
The  appointment  of  a  special  rapporteur  on  freedom  of  religion  publishing  an  annual  
country  report  of  international  religious  freedom,  could  be  a  measure  that  not  only  
increases  awareness  on  the  importance  of  that  human  right,  but  also,  permits  the  
adoption  of  policy  decisions  concerning  the  particular  countries,  when  they  violate  
religious   freedom.   Fol owing   the   US   example,   and   in   order   to   facilitate   his   or   her  
tasks,  the  rapporteur  could  be  appointed  as  Ambassador-­‐at-­‐Large  for  International  
Religious  Freedom.75  
 
j.  Support  towards  defenders  and  victims  in  countries  
 
As   an   important   element   of   the   EU   external   policy,   we   can   mention   the   needed  
support   towards   persons,   groups,   NGOs,   Churches,   religious   institutions   or   any  
entity   defending   religious   freedom   –particularly   in   those   countries   where   it   is  
violated-­‐.  
 
Victims  of  religious  freedom  violations,  when  they  remain  in  the  country,  should  also  
be  protected  looking  for  particular  solutions,  including  in  serious  cases,  the  possible  
access  to  asylum  protection.  When  victims  are  in  prison,  visits  are  recommendable  
to  check  the  situation  and  treatment  that  they  receive.  
 
k.  International  and  Intergovernmental  Cooperation  
 
The   EEAS   can   help   to   promote   the   establishment   of   an   International   Investigating  
Commission  under  the  UN  authority  to  prosecute  the  criminals  of  religious  genocides  
in  some  countries.  
 
EU   interventions   in   the   UN   (thought   the   EEAS),   for   example   in   the   Human   Rights  
Council,  are  good  opportunities  to  highlight  the  importance  of  religious  freedom  and  
denounce   its   violations.   International   fora   are   also   a   good   context   for   religious  
freedom   discussion   at   high   level   with   representatives   of   those   countries   where   its  
violation   is   of   high   concern.   In   this   context,   the   EU   should   counter   attempts   to  
promote   and   introduce   the   concept   of   “blasphemy   (laws)”   and   “defamation   of  
religions”  in  International  documents  and  fora,  in  particular  by  those  countries  which  
misuse  it.  
 
In   partnership   with   the   Council   of   Europe,   cooperation   and   joint   programs   (social  
and   cultural   projects)   can   be   developed   with   those   countries   belonging   to   the  
                                                 
75  The  Ambassador  is  the  principal  advisor  to  both  the  President  of  the  United  States  and  Secretary  of  
State  for  Religious  Freedom  globally.  Viewed  at:  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/163202.htm  
 
29 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
European   Neighbourhood   Policy,76   in   which   religious   minorities   are   persecuted,   or  
those  hosting  those  who  suffer  religious  persecution  and  apply  for  asylum  status.  
 
In  partnership  with  the  US  Secretary  of  State,  the  EEAS  can  exert  real  pressure  on  all  
the   parties   involved   in   the   Israeli-­‐Arab   conflict,   which   certainly   fuel   extremism  
against  religious  minorities  in  third  countries.  
 
The   EEAS   can   also   encourage   the   OSCE   to   monitor   the   persecution   of   religious  
minorities   in   Partner   countries,   requiring   them   to   adopt   effective   measures   to  
prevent  it.  With  respect  to  the  Arab  League,  the  EEAS  can  launch  initiatives  on  any  
tangible  cooperation  regarding  cultural  diplomacy,  democracy  promotion  and  good  
governance,  in  order  to  promote  an  increasing  improvement  of  religious  freedom  for  
minorities.  
 
l.  Follow-­‐up  
 
A  review  on  an  annual  basis  of  the  implementation  of  the  Guidelines  is  necessary  to  
have  a  clear  picture  of  the  improvements,  and  to  reinforce  those  aspects,  which  are  
not  sufficiently  successful,  or  when  due  to  the  change  of  the  status  quo,  there  is  a  
need  of  updating.  
 
m.  Dialogue  

 
The   EEAS   is   invited   to   comply   with   the   obligation   to   have   a   regular   dialogue   with  
Churches  in  accordance  with  Article  17(3)  TFEU,  so  as  to  discuss  the  issue  of  religious  
freedom,   and   particularly   the   persecution   of   Christians,   as   a   priority   issue   on   a  
systematic  basis.  Regular  is  not  only  periodical,  but  permanent  rapports  -­‐formal  and  
informal-­‐  in  order  to  achieve  the  objectives  for  a  better  promotion  and  protection  of  
religious  freedom  all  over  the  world.  Sporadic  meetings,  just  to  fulfil   the  procedure,  
are  not  enough,  and  a  real  and  substantial  cooperation  is  in  the  interest  of  the  EU  
and  those  who  suffer  a  restriction  of  their  religious  freedom,  and  even,  persecution  
for  their  religious  believes.  
 
n.  Elements  for  conclusions  
 
We   would   like   to   stress   that   the   Toolkit/Guidelines   should   prove   ambitious,   and  
include  a  checklist  on  all  the  elements  and  aspects  pertaining  to  the  exercise  of  and  
the  respect  for  the  right  to  freedom  of  religion,  in  order  to  assess  the  situation,  as  
                                                 
76  Possible  actions  according  to  the  Memorandum  of  Understanding  between  the  Council  of  Europe  
and  the  European  Union
 (may  2007),  (points  30,  41-­‐3  and  52).  At:  
http://www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-­‐
operation/steering_committees/cdpc/Documents/1Mémorandum%20d'accord%20CE_UE%20anglais
_signé.pdf  
 
30 


 
Commission  des  Episcopats  de  la  Communauté  Européenne  

Commission  of  the  Bishops’  Conferences  of  the  European  Community  
Kommission  der  Bischofskonferenzen  der  Europäischen  Gemeinschaft  

 
wel   as  instruments  and  mechanisms  to  identify  infringements  of  freedom  of  religion  
and  effectively  confront  them.  
 
 
 
 
31