A top Vatican official welcomed the UK-commissioned Persecuted Christians Review at an event in Rome, and says Christians in certain countries risk being completely purged, while in some democracies they face discrimination for standing up for their beliefs regarding life, marriage, and the family.
By Devin Watkins (Vaticannews)

Released on Monday, the Persecuted Christians Review details a recent surge in violence against adherents to the faith around the world.

The report was commissioned by the UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and prepared by Anglican Bishop Philip Mounstephen, of Truro.

Around 215 million Christians faced persecution in 2018 and an average of 250 Christians were killed every month, according to the Foreign Office. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to forms of sexual violence.

Indifference and impunity
The Vatican’s Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, spoke at the Rome Launch of the Review, held at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew.

Quoting Pope Francis with language also used in the report, Msgr. Camilleri called persecution against Christians a “sort of genocide caused by general and collective indifference.”

He lamented the impunity surrounding crimes committed on the basis of religion and the limited attention the media gives such discrimination.

“We have witnessed attacks upon individuals and groups of various religious backgrounds by terrorists, extremist groups and religious fanatics who have no respect for the lives of those who have beliefs different from their own,” he said.

Msgr. Camilleri said religious persecution against Christians should worry adherents of other faiths as well, since it hits at the most fundamental human freedom, which is to choose freely a religion.

Occurs in established democracies
The Review focuses mainly on persecution that occurs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

But Msgr. Camilleri expanded the scope to include other forms of discrimination and persecution that are carried out “even in established democracies”.

There is a growing tendency, he said, “to criminalize or penalize religious leaders for presenting the basic tenets of their faith, especially regarding the areas of life, marriage, and the family.”

He called this type of discrimination “less radical on the level of physical persecution” but “nevertheless detrimental to the full enjoyment of freedom of religion and the practice or expression of that conviction whether in private or public.”

Right to religious freedom
Religion, said Msgr. Camilleri, can help unify societies and promote peace in its quest for the common good.

“The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person,” he said, “and it is not only an achievement of a sound political and juridical culture but also a condition for the pursuit of truth that does not impose itself by force.”


Vatican City has its own system of collecting and recycling its sorted waste, much of which goes into making compost.

By Robin Gomes (Vaticannews)

The Vatican is growing greener, making strides in heeding to Pope Francis’ call to creating a more environment-friendly world. The smallest state in the world is now ready to do away completely with the sale of single-use plastics, or disposable plastic, according to Rafael Ignacio Tornini, the head of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

Recycling waste
The Vatican is also moving fast along Europe’s stringent standards with regard to collection and disposal of sorted waste, he told Ansa news agency.

He explained that a dumping center was created in 2016 for special waste disposal inside the Vatican, called “eco-center”. It was restructured and enhanced in 2018 and can now handle about 85 items of the European Waste Codes (EWC) list.

In the first 6 months of this year, the center collected 2% of unsorted waste, or 98% of sorted waste. The target is to reach point zero percent in 2010, Tornini said.

As regards urban waste, he said, the Vatican started with 35% of sorted waste in 2016. Today this stands at 55%. In the next 2 or 3 years, they expect to reach 70-75%.

Vatican City’s garbage, to the tune of some 1000 tons, is collected largely from bins, very little from door to door, such as with cooking oil and kitchen waste.

Five months ago, with the collection of organic waste, the Vatican kicked off what Tornini described as the “circular economy chain”. This consists of recycling organic waste mixed with a large part of pruning, cuttings and mowed grass from the Vatican, which amounts to as much as 400 tons, to make compost soil.

Tornini said they try to minimize as much as possible the amount of waste disposed of in Italy. They are trying to recycle much of the Vatican’s waste possible into good fertilizer for use in the Vatican or at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Tornini said that other wastes are disposed of through a private company keeping to regulations as much as possible.

The head of the Vatican’s garden and cleaning services said the problem of plastic is real. They are trying to collect plastics separately and the Vatican has limited its sale of single-use plastics and soon it will be completely stopped.

Unsorted waste collection is a problem particularly in St. Peter’s Square that is open to vast numbers pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Tornini and his team have set up bins for plastics in the colonnade that collects some 10 kilograms per day.

Tornini and four others in the department said it was a real task to change the mentality in the Vatican, even providing courses to people handling special waste. He said they have taken to heart very much the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Sii”, to safeguard our common home.

Before Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor St. Pope John Paul II had also a given boost to the Vatican’s green effort. Both of them have made appeals for the protection of the environment.

A major step in this line came in 2008, under Pope Benedict, when the Vatican switched on its massive solar power plant on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall. The system’s 2,400 photovoltaic panels covering the 5,000-square meter roof provide clean energy for the needs of the hall and several adjoining buildings.

In January, a new environment-friendly and cost-effective LED lighting system in the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica was inaugurated. The German light company OSRAM behind the project, had earlier installed similar lighting system in the Sistine Chapel and in St. Peter’s Square.

Efforts are on to expand into other renewable sources of energy in the Vatican. (Source: ANSA)