GENEVA (CNS) — As the world has grown increasingly interconnected, some nations have seen religious pluralism as a threat and reacted either by failing to protect religious minorities or by trying to marginalize all believers, a Vatican representative said.

And, unfortunately, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic told the U.N. Human Rights Council, some international agencies and organizations also see religion as a threat to their agendas when they go against “religious wisdom and the sentiments of the greatest part of humanity.”


The archbishop, who is the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, spoke March 2 during the council’s discussion on freedom of religion and belief.

Archbishop Jurkovic quoted Pope Francis’ denunciation of international agencies that, paradoxically in the name of human rights, promote “modern forms of ideological colonization” by trying to impose their programs on poorer nations as a condition for receiving aid.

The archbishop objected strongly to the use of the phrase “freedom from religion” in the report to the council by Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The phrase, Archbishop Jurkovic said, “reveals a patronizing idea of religion” and one that overlooks the importance and wisdom of religions and their integral part in the cultures of people around the world.

The report said, “International human rights treaties are reticent on the sort of relationship a state should have with religion or belief. They do, however, impose a duty upon states to be impartial guarantors of the enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief, including the right to freedom from religion, for all individuals and groups within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction.”

“Respecting the deepest convictions of members of a given society is, in fact, the prerequisite on which an authentic culture of human rights can be built,” the archbishop said. “The common good is the aim to which all states, and by extension the international community, aspire. It can be determined and achieved only through an inclusive process of dialogue and in seeking the true meaning of fundamental rights and freedoms of every human person, whose intimate nature is to seek the truth and celebrate it in the religious experience.”