Speaking at a conference in Milan, Italy, on May 8, 2013, that city's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, called for the abolition of blasphemy laws worldwide. Such a step would significantly help protect globally the freedom of speech and religion desperately needed by Christians in particular while countering Islamic fanaticism with freedom.
Once favored to become pope, Scola made his remarks at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart for the opening of a conference focusing on Roman Emperor Constantine's 313 Edict of Milan granting imperial toleration to Christianity. Scola advocated a "healthy secularism" allowing religious freedom, defined by him as a "true litmus test" for a civilized society. To Scola, this "freedom means above all encouraging religious pluralism and opening to all forms of religious expression," including "eliminating laws that criminally punish blasphemy."
As the Catholic cable television channel EWTN reported online, the role of blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries in persecuting Christians and other religious minorities formed the global context of Scola's remarks. As reviewed previously by this writer, the authors of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians have extensively documented that "Christians are the single most widely persecuted religious group in the world today," a "terrible trend…on the upswing." Moreover, "it is in the Muslim world where persecution of Christians is now most widespread, intense, and, ominously, increasing." Abolition of Muslim blasphemy laws, often used to prohibit propagation of Christian beliefs contradicting Muslim doctrine, would eliminate one important instrument of Islamic repression.