Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said this week that Italy intends to set an example in aiding persecuted Christians around the world, insisting that “religious freedom is not a second-class right.”
Freedom of religion or belief is compatible with equality for LGBT persons, Victor Madrigal-Borloz asserted in his June 21 address to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, as long as religious groups embrace the claims of homosexual and transgender persons.
Religious narratives that clash with the beliefs and lifestyle choices of LGBT persons, however, are “beyond the scope of the right freedom of religion or belief,” Madrigal-Borloz said.
In her videotaped statement, Meloni insisted that the opposite is true.
“One point is very clear,” she said. “Religious freedom is not a second-class right; it is not a freedom that comes after others or can even be set aside for the benefit of new, so-called freedoms or rights.”
Religious liberty forms part of the essential core of the rights of man, she stated, those “universal human rights that human law can never deny.”
She also publicly thanked the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which released its annual report on Christian persecution on Thursday.
Italy’s first female prime minister stated:
Religious liberty is a natural right and precedes every juridical formulation because it is written in the heart of man. It is a right proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but still today it is trodden underfoot in too many nations in the world, too often in the face of almost total indifference.
“So it happens that countless men, women, and children not only suffer the pain of seeing themselves deprived of the right to profess their faith but also the humiliation of being ignored,” she said. “This is doubly unacceptable because keeping silent over the denial of religious freedom is tantamount to complicity.”
She recounted a meeting in March with Maria Joseph and Janada Markus, two young Nigerian Christians who had been victims of the “ferocious terrorists” of the Boko Haram jihadist group, a meeting that left her moved and “breathless.”
Along with violent aggression against Christians, which takes place in numerous places around the globe, there is also a “polite persecution dressed up as culture, modernity, and progress,” she said, “which in the name of a misconceived notion of inclusivity limits the possibility of believers to express their convictions in the public square.”
It is profoundly mistaken, “to think that to welcome another one must deny one’s own identity, including one’s religious identity,” she added. “Only if you know who you are can you dialogue with another, respect him, know him, and draw enrichment from that dialogue.”
Meloni also announced that the Italian government is allocated more than ten million euros to finance support of persecuted Christian minorities around the world, “from Syria to Iraq, from Nigeria to Pakistan,” a first step to be followed by many more.
In doing this, the Italian government is taking a page from the Hungarian administration of Prime Minister Victor Orbán, which has been active for years in assisting persecuted Christians, particularly in the Middle East.
“Italy can and must set an example,” she concluded. “Italy intends to set an example at the European and international levels.”