Archbishop Celestino Migliore

Before there can be authentic religious freedom, there must be a change of hearts regarding tolerance and respect toward other religions and cultures, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, spoke Monday on religious freedom in an address he delivered Monday before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

The archbishop began by acknowledging that the United Nations has worked to promote and protect “human rights and fundamental freedoms, cultural diversity, and the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance in the world.”

Despite the promotion of the right to religious freedom, he continued, the right to freedom of religious expression “continues to be widely violated today.”

“There is unfortunately no religion on the planet which is free from discrimination,” the Holy See representative lamented. “Acts of intolerance, and violations of religious freedom, continue to be perpetrated in many forms.”

Archbishop Migliore noted that discrimination can take the form of “legal and cultural structures that lead to their discrimination,” or to acts of violence or vandalism.

“Over the past months some Asian and Middle Eastern countries have seen Christian communities attacked, leaving many injured and others killed,” he noted. “Their churches and homes were also burned down. Such actions were committed by extremists in response to accusations against individuals.”

“Governments must address the root causes of religious intolerance and repeal such laws that serve as instruments of abuse.”

NEW YORK, OCT. 27, 2009 (