By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
May. 06 2008
The European Union should do more to protect Christians worldwide, said the representative of the Russian Church to European Union officials on Monday.
Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, the Russian Church representative to European international organizations, spoke up for persecuted Christians during a meeting between E.U. officials and some 20 European religious leaders in Brussels, Belgium.
"Tolerance should not cause detriment to Christians, who still make up the majority of the European population,” said Hilarion, according to Interfax news service, which focuses on news about Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union. “Phobia and discrimination of Christians should be condemned officially."
He reminded officials of Europe’s Christian heritage and called on the E.U. to help preserve the continent’s history.
“[Christian] churches are being ruined and thousands of Christians are homeless and banished in Kosovo,” the bishop said.
He added, “This is also the case of the Cypriot area illegally occupied by Turkish forces. Churches are destroyed and Christians are suffering there.”
In a recent Christian Post interview, Cyprus’ ambassador to the United States, Andreas Kakouris, talked about the more than 530 churches and monasteries that were pillaged and destroyed in northern Cyprus after Turkish forces took over the land in 1974.
Under Turkey’s watch, one-of-a-kind historic Christian artifacts from churches have been stolen and auctioned off around the world.
It is estimated that more than 60,000 ancient artifacts have been illegally transferred to other countries, according to the Republic of Cyprus.
“Turkey seeks the accession to the European Union but it disregards the needs of its Christian population,” Hilarion chastised.
He called on the E.U. to use negotiations with Turkey, which is seeking membership into the influential political and economic community, to protect religious minorities under its control.
"The European Union administration could do more for the protection of Christians outside Europe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and many other Islamic countries," he also urged.
The E.U.-religious leaders meeting on Monday included Christian, Jewish and Muslim European heads. The main focus of the meeting was to call on Europe’s religious leaders and their congregations to be more engaged on the climate change problem.
E.U. Urges Religious Leaders to Boost Climate Change Fight
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