European Union bishops express caution about hate crimes legislation – Catholic Philly


OXFORD, England (CNS) — The Brussels-based fee representing the Catholic bishops of the European Union is backing more durable steps to fight hate crimes, however warned that present EU proposals may violate spiritual freedom and have a “chilling and self-censoring impact.”

“Hate crimes are increasingly widespread and are trigger for rising concern — a grave phenomenon to be condemned with out reservations,” the Fee of European Union Bishops’ Conferences stated in a June 7 assertion.

Nonetheless, whereas supporting such measures, the bishops’ fee, generally known as COMECE, expressed concern that establishing provisions uniformly throughout the EU would probably criminalize “the mere expression of an concept, at actions carried out by the church in exercising its magisterium and instructing actions.”

Acknowledging that the Catholic Church was dedicated to “efficient insurance policies” in opposition to hate crimes, and favored “sound reporting mechanisms” and “efficient and common knowledge assortment,” COMECE stated such measures have been finest addressed by particular person EU nations.

The fee famous that the EU’s Lisbon Treaty of 2007 acknowledged “completely different authorized programs and traditions” among the many bloc’s 27 member-states, and stated categorizing the offenses as “EU crimes” risked limiting “core elementary rights,” together with freedom of speech and religion.

Headed by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, COMECE’s assertion was launched of the deliberate debate on EU-wide laws.

“The chance of a chilling impact on democratic debates and open discussions in society is at all times current, exactly because of the uncertain borders for conduct and expression. Whereas aiming at selling tolerance and prudence, the related legal guidelines typically entail the hazard of fostering self-censorship. In some circumstances, such initiatives harbor ideological and political facets,” COMECE stated.

Lately, human rights teams have warned of elevated abuse and harassment in opposition to social and ethnic teams throughout Europe, fueled by social media, and have urged tighter measures to determine and prosecute perpetrators.

Nonetheless, church leaders have warned in opposition to extending “hate speech” to penalize legitimate criticisms of practices equivalent to abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

In its assertion, COMECE stated “extremely delicate authorized questions” have been finest tackled at nationwide degree, including that “unsure and obscure” phrases equivalent to “hate speech,” with no globally agreed definition, may very well be “used as a pretext for censorship.”

“It is very important distinguish between hateful, nasty, vicious or malevolent assaults on the individual on one hand, and disagreement or dispute with an ideological place on the opposite,” COMECE stated.

“Individuals belonging to any faith needs to be protected by hate crime provisions and care taken to not foster a minorities-versus-majorities dynamic — in line with which safety can be primarily aimed on the former,” the fee stated.

The hate crime debate follows the EU’s Might 5 appointment of a brand new particular envoy on spiritual freedom, after the put up was allowed to lapse in 2019, sparking complaints from church buildings and spiritual associations.

Nonetheless, in a June 2 letter to European Fee President Ursula Von Der Leyen, Cardinal Luxembourg known as for the envoy, Christos Stylianides, to be given “satisfactory sources” after claims the workplace was beforehand denied funding and assist.

In March, COMECE warned that spiritual freedom had been “unquestionably decreased and diminished” throughout Europe’s coronavirus pandemic, with some governments failing to appreciate significance of religion and spiritual observe.

“There’s a lack of awareness and, in some circumstances, a scarcity of curiosity as to what faith is, and what it means for hundreds of thousands of individuals within the EU,” COMECE’s press workplace informed Catholic Information Service March 22.



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