Mgr Jean Abdou Arbach, Jorge Marirodriga and Javier Menéndez Ros
The Rafael del Pino Foundation collaborated with Aid to the Church in Need in the presentation of the "World Religious Freedom Report 2016", which took place on 15 November 2016 at 7pm. In addition, during the event, the 5th Religious Freedom Award was presented to the Archbishop of Homs.
The following spoke at the event:
– Mgr Jean Abdou ArbachArchbishop of Homs, Syria – Jorge Marirodrigajournalist for El País – Javier Menéndez RosDirector of Aid to the Church in Need in Spain
The World Religious Freedom Report 2016 is the only international study that analyses the implementation of the right to religious freedom in 196 countries, i.e. worldwide, and the only one carried out by a Catholic institution. The report has been published biannually since 2000 in seven languages and is disseminated in more than 20 countries. It analyses and denounces, country by country, cases of aggression against this fundamental right.
Mgr Jean Abdo Arbachis the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Homs, Hama and Yabrud in Syria. He was born in 1952 in Yabrud, Syria. At the age of 25 he made his perpetual vows in the Basilian Order of St. John the Baptist. In 1980 he was ordained a priest within the same congregation, belonging to the Melkite Catholic Church. In 2006 he was appointed Exarch of Argentina, serving the Melkite community, which has more than 300,000 faithful in that country. In June 2012 he was appointed Archbishop of Homs, Hama and Yabrud, a ministry he still holds today. Archbishop Arbach is one of the main actors in the care of displaced persons and victims of the civil war in Syria. Through Aid to the Church in Need, he has coordinated emergency food, clothing and medicine projects for families displaced by the war, the reconstruction of houses and the rehabilitation of churches, including the cathedral in Homs. Archbishop Arbach is a promoter of inter-religious dialogue and peace in Syria. He has organised ecumenical meetings between representatives of different churches, as well as prayer meetings for peace for Muslim and Christian families and children. The latest meeting took place on 7 October with the theme "Peace for Children". It was held in coordination in more than 2,000 schools all over the country and drawings and messages of peace were collected and delivered to authorities of the European Union and the United Nations.
Jorge Marirrodriga has been a journalist at the daily El País since 1996. He initially worked with the team that founded the newspaper's internet edition and in 1997 he was assigned to the International Desk as a journalist. He has covered directly the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo and the armed conflicts in Gaza and the West Bank, and has interviewed prominent leaders on the world stage. From 2004 to 2008, he was South America correspondent for El País, based in Buenos Aires. From January 2009 to April 2014, he was head of the newspaper's global edition. Since May 2014, he has been an editorialist.
Javier Menéndez Ros holds a degree in Law and Business Studies from ICADE. He has worked for more than 20 years in multinationals such as Tetrapack and Unilever, until 2006 when he began his career as Director for Spain of the Church's non-profit organisation: "Ayuda a la Iglesia Necesitada" (Aid to the Church in Need). Menéndez Ros collaborates with "La linterna de la Iglesia" on COPE, is an occasional columnist for La Razón, ABC, Alfa y Omega, Alba and can be seen frequently on different programmes on Intereconomía TV and 13TV. We can also understand his facet as a writer by reading his blog "Volando libre". He is also a member of the editorial committee of the 'Report on Religious Freedom in the World' produced by ACN.
On the occasion of the presentation of the "Report on Religious Freedom in the World 2016", a meeting was held on 15 November at the Rafael del Pino Foundation on this topic, which was attended by Monsignor Jean Abdou Arbach, Archbishop of Homs (Syria); Jorge Marirodriga, journalist for El País, and Javier Menéndez Ros, director of Aid to the Church in Need in Spain. The first topic they discussed was why the situation of religious freedom in the world is worrying. Javier Menéndez Ros defined it as the right to have, maintain or change one's spiritual beliefs, which can be expressed publicly or privately, individually or collectively, without coercion or discrimination. It is a right that is linked to human dignity, and when it is violated, all other human rights are violated. Today, one in three people in the world live in a country where this right is not respected, and three out of four people who suffer from it are Christians. A large part of these attacks come from radical Islam. In the same vein, Archbishop Arbach pointed out that there is no religious freedom in the Middle East and that the number of Christians there is drastically decreasing. And this needs to be reported, because many people do not know what is happening. For his part, Jorge Marirodriga reminded the audience that civil liberties are born out of religious freedom, which is why attacks on the latter affect both believers and non-believers. Along the same lines, Martínez Ros pointed out that religion is not simply a form of worship, but affects social relations and social life. In this sense, the Christian is a person who contributes to peace. Monsignor Arbach pointed out in this regard that in the territories under the control of the Islamic State, Christians have no other options than conversion to Islam, flight or martyrdom. He also said that although religious freedom can be experienced in the rest of the Middle East, it is not complete. And Jorge Marirodriga said that the first victim of the lack of religious freedom is freedom of conscience, and after it comes all the others. In another vein, Marirodriga commented that the modern state is unable to accept the presence of religion in its midst, and therefore tries to confine it to private life. In this sense, Monsignor Arbach stressed the differences between Europe, where the state is secular, and the Middle East, where it is Islamic, and where it destroys freedom. And for Javier Martínez Ros, it is a mistake to think that religion should be brought into the sphere of the state, because the moment that the state takes control of people, it suffocates them. However, he warned, in the West the secular state is confused with the secularist state, and the latter would like the Church not to have a say in things.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.