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Religious persecution


By dxw


Reverend Canon Dr Gary Wilton, The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the EU;  Canon of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, and Visiting Programme Director at Wilton Park writes:

It is relatively easy to quote Henry Kissingers question Who do I call if I want to call Europe? The realities of constructing the answer in the form of the new European External Action Service [EEAS] are much tougher. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Baroness Ashton and her team, theirs is a near impossible job. The task of creating a common voice for a union of 27 member states including some of the most significant ex-imperial powers of the world was always going to be an uphill struggle. And when you add religion into the mix, the near impossible demands the near miraculous to determine the way forward.

Recently, the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU has been grappling with the need to respond to the recent atrocities of religious persecution, not least those against Christian communities in different parts of the Middle East but also including violence against Muslim pilgrims.

At the meeting in January discussions ground to a halt. Whilst in complete support of religious freedom and in unanimous condemnation against violence the Council could not agree to recognise the recent plight of Christians or any other religion for that matter.

February was a long month of lobbying and inter-institutional negotiations. The conclusions of the 21st February Foreign Affairs Council were a significant step forward. The representatives of the 27 member states clearly condemned acts of violence against Christians, their places of worship, Muslim pilgrims and other religious communities.  Indeed the conclusions were the first occasion when Ashton has publicly commented on religion. More than that, the conclusions were marked by a commitment to enhanced efforts on freedom of religion and support for initiatives in the field of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in the spirit of openness, engagement and mutual understanding.

There is no doubt that the new EEAS is struggling to find its voice especially when it comes to religion. The European Parliament is urging the creation of a Religions Unit, and it is not surprisingly supported by the different religious bodies in Brussels.

Whatever the structure going forward, the EEAS needs to develop a confident ability to listen to and read religious events/the religious backdrop to events so that it can calibrate its response and speak robustly with a common voice for the common good. This will take time, and the EEAS will need respected friends along the way.


Gary is chair at Wilton Parks meeting; Promoting religious freedom around the world.

Read Garys previous blog.


Ingo-Steven Wais says

Dear Reverend Dr.Gary Wilton, dear Wilton Park Team,
1 st.of all I have to say that you took the right words out of my
mouth in re. of Baroness Ashton.It 's always very easy (but sounds so cool...)to critize a person-male or female-and "just forget" to make better suggestions of how he or she could improve their work and do it better.Maybe is one of the reasons
that Fleet Street/Yellow Press is selling "Bad News" much better as some positive aspects and facts.E.g. the work or the style of somebody and all the really good achievements.Anyway:If Mr.Kissinger would ask me "Who do I call...?" I would simply answer: "Sir, don 't call at all for you will get 27 different answers and -logical- 27 additional problems." Plus 27 hours of wasted time and 27 days of senseless waiting-for "The Europeans"can 't -once again-come to a term.But there is one thing of which I 'm missing, which I don't know:When was this "new" European
External Action Service,EEAS,established ?For one thing is -to me-clear:You can 't start your own car at point zero and reaching maximal speed within 27 seconds.In other words:
Every NGO, every government and therefore also the EEAS needs time and patience to grow up-to develop the best possible service. In Germany there is a saying:"Kindergarten-Spiele sind Sandkastenspiele".(:Don 't critize something or someone before the 1st. 100 days are over).To conclude my comment I want to make the point that every man, every single woman across the entire world has the right to choose of which kind of religion she or he wants to belong to.Without the fear of getting persecuted.BW, Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart

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