The 21st century - age of Christianophobia?

Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Prof. Massimo Introvigne, OSCE (Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe) representative on Combating Discrimination Against Christians.

In March 2011 there was a seminar on a theme that is seldom discussed by journalists and politicians. It was entitled 'Intolerance and Discrimination of Christians in Europe.' The words of the seminar participant Joseph Weiler, American Jew and Professor of the University of New York, clearly testify about the necessity of publicity and censure of this dramatic phenomenon. He said that the most shocking fact was not that hatred, discrimination and Christianophobia existed but that they were tolerated and nobody protested against them, that the symposium in Brussels was one of the first symposia dealing with that theme. He added that if those problems had concerned Jews or Muslims they would have evoked a common scandal in press. But as they concerned Christians they seemed normal, and thus one could not tolerate such a situation.
In order to show in detail the taboo theme, which is contemporary Christianophobia, I have interviewed the Italian sociologist Prof. Massimo Introvigne who has been appointed an OSCE delegate for the fight against racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance of Christians and members of other religions.

WLODZIMIERZ REDZIOCH: - For several decades anti-Semitism and racism have been combated. There are media campaigns, countless publications, symposia, and appropriate laws are established as if every day there were pogroms of Jews and people were killed because of their races. But recently the media, and especially various international organisations, have focused more and more on new phobias, which could endanger the world: Islamophobia and homophobia. Unfortunately, the truth - silenced or concealed - is completely different: at the beginning of the 21st century the most persecuted and discriminated group in the world is Christians. People, manipulated by mass media, are not aware of the fact that in the world every fifth minute a person is killed only because he/she is a follower of Christ. What should the public opinion know about persecutions and discrimination of Christians?

PROF. MASSIMO INTROVIGNE: - I think that public opinion should know the statistics concerning this phenomenon. Between the 1st and the 20th centuries there were 70 million Christian martyrs and 40 million of them were in the last century! Currently, 105,000 Christians lose their lives every year. Three fourths of all Christian victims worldwide are Christ's followers. Of course, stressing these data does not mean that one should not condemn anti-Semitism and persecutions of followers of other religions. But we are dealing with the following paradox: statistically, persecutions of Christians are the biggest ones but the media dedicate the least time to them.

- Who is persecuting Christians nowadays?

- The first place is still taken by the communist regimes (especially North Korea) and the countries with great influence of the Islamic fundamentalism. We have nationalisms based on Hinduism, Buddhism or tribal foundation. Whereas in the West Christians fall prey to laicism, which although does not resort to violence uses other ways of discrimination.

- The situation of Christians is especially difficult in the Muslim countries where the Islamic law differentiates between Muslims (believers) and non-Muslims, reducing Christians to second-class citizens, who are at the best only tolerated. How should the problems of Christian minorities be solved in the Islamic countries?

- Undoubtedly, the international pressure can improve their situation. Unfortunately, the moves of the Islamic authorities concerning Christians too often are of only cosmetic character. For instance, they remove the law concerning apostasy [according to the Islamic law apostasy, i.e., leaving Islam, should be punished by death] but at the same time they attack Christians on the basis of the blasphemy law, the best example being the situation in Pakistan.

- Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest enemy of religious freedom, is regarded as one of the greatest 'allies' of the West. Any non-Muslim religious cult is forbidden in this country and what is worse, one cannot possess any object connected with any religion (one can be imprisoned or expelled from the country for having a copy of the Bible). At the same time, Saudi Arabia spends billions of dollars on the promotion and expansion of Islam abroad, including the countries that have no Muslim traditions. Therefore, we are dealing with a country that denies religious freedom to millions of foreign workers, mainly Christians, and at the same time, 'uses' the Western democracy to promote Islam in the whole world, to build mosques and centres of Islamic culture. Shouldn't we use the principle of reciprocity towards such countries as Saudi Arabia?

- One should see two aspects of the problem. From the moral point of view - as Benedict XVI teaches - we must continuously insist on the requirement of reciprocity but from the legal point of view, the international law and the laws of various European countries forbid to enforce the principle of reciprocity on anyone. I would like to add that before the year 1989 the West allowed the activities of the communist parties without demanding Russia or Poland to allow the existence of anti-communist parties considering the principle of reciprocity.

- The Church was persecuted in communist Europe as it is still being persecuted in communist-capitalist China. The red mandarins want to nationalise the Catholic Church at all costs and bring her under complete control of the communist party. What is most alarming is the fact that the most populous country in the world that aspires to be the biggest economic and military power violates the fundamental human right - right to religious freedom. What do you think about it?

- The Pope has been involved in a very delicate dialogue with China, which is sometimes tiring since gestures of openness are interwoven with sudden hardenings of the Chinese stand. The Western countries should help in this dialogue by exerting suitable influence on China. The problem is that they do not do that since they do not want to insult the Chinese who have a considerable part of the debts of the West.

- Christianophobia has spread intensively in our allegedly tolerant and democratic Europe. What forms do intolerance and persecutions of Christians assume in our continent?

- Spain governed by Prime Minister Zapatero, whose term, fortunately, seems to end, is an example of continuous persecutions of Christians by administrative methods, their culmination being the obligatory introduction of 'educaciĆ³n ciudadana' (civic education) in schools that insults Catholic values of Christian parents. In Europe we are dealing with the discrimination of Catholic schools and religious symbols, such as the crucifix.

- What ideologies are hidden behind the wave of Christianophobia in contemporary Europe?

- First of all, what the Pope calls the dictatorship of relativism that allows expressing non-relativistic ideas only in the private sphere and not in the public one. And we should not forget that there are remains of communism.

- One cannot hide that the powerful and all-present homosexual lobby, acting in the media, the EU Parliament and national Parliaments, and above all in the United Nations and its agencies, stands behind the increasing wave of Christianophobia in the West. This influential group tries to impose on the world - through gender ideology and 'new' human rights - a distorted anthropology, which is radically different from the Christian vision of man. We face absurd situations: those who share the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning homosexualism are forbidden to take top state and international positions (the case of Prof. Rocco Buttiglione); one can try someone who thinks that children need mothers and fathers or quotes the Bible, 'Man and woman, he created them', etc. How can we oppose the intolerance of this militant lobby that wants to change the world according to the homosexual vision of man?

- On the one hand, one should condemn violence towards homosexuals and on the other hand, we must confirm that opposing the legal recognition of homosexual couples and recognising homosexual behaviours as moral disorder is the stand that constitutes part of the doctrinal legacy of the Church ad other religious communities; forbidding expressing these convictions is violating religious freedom.

- Recently we have been appointed an OSCE (Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe) delegate for the fight against racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance of Christians and members of other religions. What can OSCE and other countries do for the cause of the fight against persecutions and discrimination of Christians?

- OSCE has no army and cannot levy sanctions or punishment. However, I think that in the past 'moral persuasion' of the OSCE diplomacy had good results and that's why I can see we can achieve something in this respect. But the task of all people is to make everyone aware of the persecutions of Christians, which I have dedicated much time.

- Thanking you for your interview I want to wish you successes in your fight against Christianophobia - the most dramatic and alarming phenomenon of our times.

"Niedziela" 36/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: