The EU leadership makes laudable efforts to help immigrants from Islamic countries to embrace European values and to fully integrate into European society. An environment of tolerance is being created, whereby every person, regardless of his or her beliefs, must feel at home.
I believe, however, that secular ideologies should not be regarded as the main basis for creating a society of tolerance and mutual respect. A secular or atheist ideology cannot serve as a common denominator for all of the different world views that exist in Europe.
I also believe that tolerance should not be promoted at the expense of Christians, who continue to constitute the majority in Europe’s population. Instances of Christianophobia and of discrimination against Christians should be officially condemned. The public display of Christian symbols should nowhere in Europe be prohibited, and the celebration of Christian feasts should nowhere be discouraged in the name of falsely-understood tolerance.
One would expect from the EU authorities that they will do more to protect Europe’s Christian heritage. This relates, in particular, to the Kosovo region, where churches are being brutally destroyed, and thousands of Christians are left homeless or forced into exile. It also relates to that part of Cyprus which is still unlawfully occupied by Turkish military forces, where churches are being ruined and the remaining Christian population continues to suffer excessively.
Turkey aspires towards membership in the European Union, while at the same time continuing to neglect the needs of its Christian population. Turkey’s refusal to reopen the theological school on Halki, in spite of repeated requests from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, is but one of many examples of such neglect. This largely anti-Christian policy is presently enforced by the official denial of the atrocities committed against Christians in the past, such as the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. I hope that the EU will use the mechanism of negotiation with Turkey in order to ensure that crimes of the past will never be repeated in the future, and that religious minorities in Turkey will be treated according to civilized standards.
— Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria
Taken from EUROPICA – The Bulletin of the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions
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