A leading Vatican diplomat has called for better protection of religious freedom in the face of increasing violence and discrimination against Christians and members of other religions.
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican secretary for relations with states, also urged a more comprehensive response to the problem of human trafficking and its effects on vulnerable groups, such as women and children.
Archbishop Mamberti made the remarks in a speech to representatives of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe who met in Helsinki, Finland.
He said the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60 years ago was one of the greatest achievements of the United Nations and noted that the Church was working in every country to make sure those rights are put into practice.
One of these fundamental rights is religious freedom, he said.
"The Holy See promotes this right, demands that it be universally respected, and views with concern the increasing episodes of violence, as well as the ongoing acts of discrimination and intolerance against Christians and members of other religions," he said.
In a reference to violence in the name of religion, he added: "Hatred can find no justification among those who call God 'our Father’."
Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican officials have expressed alarm in recent months at a growing number of anti-Christian attacks in Iraq and India, and have called upon the governments of both countries to do more to protect their Christian minorities.
Archbishop Mamberti said the scourge of human trafficking today is "a multidimensional social phenomenon of misery, poverty, greed, corruption, injustice and oppression which manifests itself in sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery and the recruitment of minors for armed conflict".
He said the root causes of human trafficking include economic factors, such as the imbalance between rural and urban wealth levels; political and juridical factors, such as the absence of legislation to deal with trafficking, mistrust of the law and open borders; and cultural factors, such as the social acceptability of putting children to work, illiteracy and discrimination against girls.
The archbishop said there was another aspect of human trafficking that must be collectively addressed: the "trivialisation of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries, which fuels a decline in moral values and leads to the degradation of men and women and even the abuse of children".
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