Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister has told an online forum in mid-July that efforts to counter persecution were now required because the entire fabric of human rights was at stake — even in the West — if religious freedom continued to be attacked.

He made his remarks on the first anniversary of the 176-page “Truro report,” the publication of which led to a commitment by the British government to address the global persecution of Christians specifically.

“I think that the Truro report was very timely,” he said from the Vatican via Zoom, the video-sharing platform. “It was a bit of a wake-up call.

“Speaking to some extent on behalf of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, I think in some ways perhaps we became too complacent in front of persecution, too used to it being a phenomenon in our community story, and thought therefore perhaps it was something you had to live with, something that we can’t do anything about. I think the Truro report was a very significant effort to do something about that,” he said.

“I think also we all know the denial of religious freedom is the beginning of the denial and erosion of so many other human rights; it is almost the litmus test of human rights,” said the Liverpool-born archbishop.

He said it was also important that Christians and other people of goodwill made “a renewed effort to underline the question of conscience in general, even outside the religious sphere,” because “we do see — even in the West, developed world — the progressive erosion of conscience and, therefore, also of human rights.”

“Never underestimate the power of prayer and the unity of the people of faith,” Archbishop Gallagher added.

The Truro report was commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, a former British foreign secretary, and launched July 8, 2019.

It takes its name from Anglican Bishop Philip Mounstephen of Truro, England, who led the independent commission that worked on the report.

The report revealed a surprising scale of persecution of Christians globally, leading Hunt, an Anglican, to conclude that he was “not convinced that our efforts on behalf of Christians have always matched the scale of the problem.”

The report recommended that Britain seek a U.N. Security Council Resolution to require all of the nations of the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians and to permit U.N. observers to monitor security measures.

It also included the suggestion that new linguistic terms — such as “Christophobia” — be sought to describe anti-Christian discrimination in the same way that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are used to describe acts of violence toward Muslims and Jews. Catholic leaders have since voiced reservations about the merits of competing for victim status against other groups.

Credit: Catholic News Service