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Vatican slams Sweden on religious freedom

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17:47 CEST+02:00
The Vatican has attacked Sweden, saying that religious expression in the country is threatened.

The Catholic Church claims that the prosecution of Pentecostalist minister Åke Green for a sermon in which he called gay people "a cancer on the face of society" is evidence of a lack of religious tolerance in Sweden.

Green was jailed for 30 days, and has since become a totemic figure for evangelical Christians in a number of countries.

The annual report by the association "Aid to the Church in Need" (ACN) put Sweden in the company of countries including China, Nigeria, and Turkey.

France and Spain were also singled out.

"Violence, victimization, persecution: the state of religious freedom in the world is still critical," the report said.

The report was presented to the media in the Italian parliament by Speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini and the president of the pontifical council for justice and peace, Cardinal Renato Martino.

"The situation is extremely serious in China, where 19 priests were arrested or prevented from exercising their ministry," the report said.

It also described the situation as "serious" in Colombia, Cuba, Nigeria and Uganda.

Turkey was criticised for "unsatisfactory respect for religious minorities" as was Spain where "harmonious relations between the government and the Catholic Church have deteriorated after the victory of the Socialist party".

France, where the government last year passed a law banning the wearing in public schools of religious garments and symbols, such as Muslim headscarfs, was also criticised for its secular approach to relations with religious groups.

AFP/The Local

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