Holy See: Root causes of extremism must be faced

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Delegation on Wednesday made an intervention at the 2016 OSCE Mediterranean Conference on Youth North and South of the Mediterranean: Facing Security Challenges and Enhancing Opportunities.

“Root causes that promote violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism among the young must be faced: dissatisfaction, a failure of integration policies, unemployment, a sense of loss, including the feeling of not having a future, a vacuum of values and fractures within families,” said Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk, the head of the Holy See delegation.

“Moreover, violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism finds a fertile ground in growing intolerance, discrimination, racism and xenophobia, including as a result of certain counter-terrorism policies,” – he continued –“For all these reasons, we have to bear in mind once again that global economic inequalities, marginalization and exclusion are not only a grave social and economic concern, but can also become a threat to international peace and security, including in the OSCE area and in the Mediterranean region. Thus, achieving social justice and inclusion is pivotal to countering the recruitment and radicalization of young people.”

 

The full statement is below

 

STATEMENT BY MONSIGNOR JANUSZ S. URBAŃCZYK

HEAD OF THE HOLY SEE DELEGATION

2016 OSCE MEDITERRANEAN CONFERENCE ON YOUTH NORTH AND SOUTH OF THE MEDITERRANEAN: FACING SECURITY CHALLENGES AND ENHANCING OPPORTUNITIES

 

Session I: Lessons learned and best practices in dealing with challenges for youth north and south of the Mediterranean: Violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism

Vienna, October 5, 2016

Mr Moderator,

The Holy See is indeed pleased to take part in this Mediterranean Conference, and thanks the Austrian Chairmanship of the Mediterranean Contact Group and the German OSCE Chairmanship for organizing it. The topics of this session – violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism – are most timely and deserve the focused attention of the OSCE. I also thank the keynote speakers – Ms Muriel Domenach, Mr Stefan Fercher, Mr. Nor-eddine Benfreha and Mr Mohamed Anas Touati – for their thoughtful and interesting contributions.

The agenda of the Conference spells out that young people are “the present and the future of our societies and thus need the continued attention of policy makers” (Annotated agenda). Like every generation, young people today – both north and south of the Mediterranean – are dreaming of and asking for a future of hope rather than one of disenchantment. The Holy See is convinced that engaging with young people, allowing them to participate actively in the betterment of our societies, the very societies they themselves will one day lead, is crucial.

Yet recent and current developments show us that many of our young people are responding to the dissemination of radical ideologies and messages, and consequently are falling prey to terrorists, especially through the internet. These facts result in a convergence between North and South of the Mediterranean, where both sides experience the manifold challenges to security that stem from violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism, as well as the need to protect and engage with young people, without whose participation the necessary progress will not be made.2

Root causes that promote violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism among the young must be faced: dissatisfaction, a failure of integration policies, unemployment, a sense of loss, including the feeling of not having a future, a vacuum of values and fractures within families. Moreover, violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism finds a fertile ground in growing intolerance, discrimination, racism and xenophobia, including as a result of certain counter-terrorism policies. For all these reasons, we have to bear in mind once again that global economic inequalities, marginalization and exclusion are not only a grave social and economic concern, but can also become a threat to international peace and security, including in the OSCE area and in the Mediterranean region. Thus, achieving social justice and inclusion is pivotal to countering the recruitment and radicalization of young people.

As this session is devoted to lessons learned and best practices between OSCE participating States and Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation, I wish to dwell on the important role that dialogue should play. This has become a leitmotif of the pontificate of Pope Francis, a concept he does not tire of developing. The Pope has repeatedly said that we are called to promote a culture of dialogue that enables us to see people from different cultures as worthy of being heard1 and contribute in this way to a long-standing peace. Thus, dialogue becomes a powerful tool at our disposal. Pope Francis has explained this further in these words: today we urgently need to build “coalitions” that are not only military and economic, but cultural, educational, philosophical and religious. Let us arm our youth with the culture of dialogue and encounter,2 let them be dreamers (who) believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers.3

The Holy See calls upon participating States and Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation to engage in the planning and building of such a culture of dialogue, which also draws on the talents, initiative and dreams of young people. Pope Francis, on the occasion of the last World Youth Day, said that young people are called to leave their mark on life, to leave a mark on history, their own and that of many others as well. Life nowadays tells us that it is much easier to concentrate on what divides us, what keeps us apart. People try to make us believe that being closed in on ourselves is the best way to keep safe from harm. Today, we adults need young people to teach us how to live in a multicultural environment, in dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity.4

Such a culture of dialogue should be imparted in all stages of education, beginning first and foremost in our families, which, for this reason, deserve more support, and then in our schools to give young people a counter-narrative bearing positive values. How important is forming consciences and training good citizens capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person.5 In this regard, interreligious and intercultural dialogue are powerful tools at our disposal and a closer cooperation between state authorities and religious leaders should be promoted.

As has been the experience also in countless Catholic schools, education can play a significant role in promoting respect for the other. In a multicultural context, schools with such an ethos can facilitate a true encounter between students of different cultures, ethnicities and religions. Moreover, it is important that each school take care to teach about other cultures and religious traditions, while respecting the identity of its students, as well as its own native character and ethos. Educational programmes should be developed and strengthened in order to promote a better understanding and respect for different cultures, ethnicities and religions. These programmes should also hand on some superior values, such as the dignity of every person and solidarity among peoples. An education in respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is no less important, for students at all level.

In this regard, the Holy See takes the opportunity to reiterate its wish that the ODIHR draft– sooner rather than later – guidelines for educators on countering intolerance and discrimination against Christians, as has already been done with regard to intolerance and discrimination against other religious groups. Such guidelines may give a great contribution in promoting respect and appreciation of Christian communities north or south of the Mediterranean.

Finally, it is important that these instruments as well as the strategies considered during this Conference to prevent and counter violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism be integrated with the security agenda developed among States from the OSCE area and the Mediterranean region.

Thank you Mr Moderator.

1 Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize, Address of his Holiness Pope Francis, 6 May 2016.

2 Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Poland on the occasion of the XXXI World Youth Day, Prayer Vigil with the young people, Address of the Holy Father, Campus Misericordiae, Kraków, Saturday, 30 July 2016.

3 Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Poland on the occasion of the XXXI World Youth Day, Holy Mass for World Youth Day, Campus Misericordiae, Kraków, Sunday, 31 July 2016.

4 Cf. Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Poland on the occasion of the XXXI World Youth Day, Prayer Vigil with the young people, Address of the Holy Father, Campus Misericordiae, Kraków, Saturday, 30 July 2016.

5 Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, Ecumenical and Interreligious meeting, Address of His Holiness Pope Francis, Hall of the Apostolic Nunciature, 26 November 2015.

(from Vatican Radio)

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