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Exclusive: Secret Documents Confirm a Spiritual Cold War between the Vatican and the OSCE editor’s note: this comprehensive and unprecedented study, which draws on leaked internal Vatican documents, official speeches and interviews, reveals the uneasy relationship between two secretive institutions forced to act diplomatically- despite their own diametrically opposed understandings of human morality, freedom and the ideal role of religion in daily life. This analysis complements the comprehensive research contained in our book, The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans: Bolstering the Catholic Church in 2015 and beyond.

By Chris Deliso

Although it has never been reported, the Vatican has, unsuccessfully, attempted to relay its stance on the gay agenda, contraception, abortion and secular education via the OSCE’s annual ‘hate crimes’ reports. The latter’s decision to ignore Vatican concerns on such matters is occurring at a moment when the Holy See is far from alone in lamenting the international community’s total failure to protect Christians from genocidal terrorist groups like ISIS.

Ironically, the cold war between the two monolithic organizations in the past decade represents a total reversal of the warm relations they shared in the early 1970’s, when the Holy See played an instrumental role in organizing the OSCE’s direct descendant, the CSCE- a time when religious freedom was very much on the agenda for all.

According to a secret questionnaire obtained from the Holy See’s nunciature in Sofia, Bulgaria, the above-stated issues were just some of those discussed in the wider debate on religious freedom- the politicization of which is clear, especially during Pope Francis’ present visit to the United States, where different interest groups are trying to make their voices heard on social issues affecting the Catholic Church and its relationship with the modern world.

The fact that the Vatican has offered such questionnaires to the OSCE – which nevertheless refuses to cite much of their findings – speaks to the tense relations between these two organizations- which, despite totally divergent ideologies, share certain practices and methods.

However, the total failure of both the Holy See and OSCE/ODIHR to comment for this article reaffirms that both understand they are bound to preserve diplomatic relations, despite a sort of cold war between the two. It may also indicate a certain incompetence at OSCE headquarters in Vienna and Warsaw, where staff appear ill-prepared to respond to issues that are not commonly raised, but that are nevertheless very much in their professional purview.

Some Fundamental Differences: The Vatican and the OSCE

The Holy See is an independent state, based in Vatican City, and its leader, Pope Francis, is the recognized head of the Catholic Church internationally. As a state, the Holy See has its own embassies (nunciatures), memberships in international bodies, agreed treaties and other essential trappings of statehood. It also has an established bureaucracy and the equivalent of government ministries and security bodies. There is a high level of job security (barring misconduct) for Vatican employees, and the cardinals, from whose ranks each new pope is drawn, serve lifetime appointments. Finally, there are clear and traceable institutional structures of the Catholic Church in most countries, radiating down from the Holy See to the smallest parish church. The Church of Rome has existed for roughly 2,000 years.

The OSCE, on the other hand, is quite a different animal. It came into existence formally only 20 years ago. And rather than state or even institutional legitimacy, it is merely a constantly evolving political agreement and thus susceptible to all manner of manipulation, from both within and without. Its staffs’ visible roles in conflict zones have led to numerous charges of espionage and double-dealing as different powers vie for influence over world events.

The OSCE also was born out of a different historical context: it derives ultimately from a 1973 conference, which served as a sort of Cold War-era avenue for communications between the rival power blocs. But, like NATO, it has outlived its original mandate and transformed its orientation. For whereas the CSCE was originally considered an initiative for outreach and common ground between two well-established and distinct world power blocs during the Cold War, it is today a liberal-globalist organization that claims to, but does not, represent the majority of its vast and variegated populations comprising 57 member states. Instead, it represents an ideological view shared only by a small, cross-national liberal elite.

At present, the OSCE plays a role in all manner of causes, from election-monitoring to human rights commenting and ‘conflict management.’ Its 2015 budget is over 140 million euros- a sign of how its ambition and reach have increased since 1991, when the budget of its precursor group was just the equivalent of 12 million euros. The high point was reached in 2000, in the wake of the Kosovo bombing, when the budget topped 202 million euros. However, as the budget heads towards gradual retraction, or at least stasis, career-hungry bureaucrats and political opportunists keep coming up with new and improved uses for the negotiated body- as ever, a political work in progress without permanent mandate, institutional grounding or accountability.

Prehistory: the Vatican’s Ostpolitik and the CSCE

The initiative that would ultimately lead to the creation of the OSCE – the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) – opened in Finland in 1973. The Soviet Union, NATO countries and neutral parties all saw advantages of their own in whatever security forum might derive from the talks. The Vatican was no exception.

The so-called Helsinki Process talks opened in the Finnish capital on July 3, 1973, and were attended by 35 states. The conference’s opening address was delivered by Vatican diplomat Agostino Casaroli, who would become a cardinal and then Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II in 1979. Casaroli had a long and distinguished career of dealing with Socialist countries like Yugoslavia and Hungary- a fact, incidentally that made him a favorite target of KGB bugging. (Indeed, Hungary was the Eastern Bloc state specifically tasked with anti-Vatican espionage, as we discuss in our book).

Speaking at the 1973 conference, Casaroli warned that human rights violations would lead “sooner or later, somewhere in Europe, to grave internal disturbances.” In the charged context of the 1970’s, the Vatican considered the West a sort of ally against Communist repression of religion. It is both striking and odd that, in its public rhetoric towards Christianity in Europe (such as the pope’s trip to Albania last year), the Vatican continues to concentrate on the dark days of communism, when in the contemporary setting it is actually post-Christian Western Europe and the ideals it claims to represent that are antithetical to the Vatican’s values. Perhaps it would simply be awkward to point this out too often to European audiences. At the same time, dwelling on past enemies is not going to help the Vatican face any of its present and future threats.

The evolution of the CSCE continued with a main working group phase, held in Geneva until July 1975. The Helsinki Final Act, which resulted from this, was signed by the 35 participating states during the third stage of the Helsinki Process- a three-day event beginning on July 30, 1975. This final session was opened by Msgr. Casaroli, chairman of the conference. Freedom of conscience, thought, belief and religion were agreed as being among 10 principles of inter-state relations. However, “this merely repeated in cursory language commitments made under previous treaties,” noted Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch in The Vatican and the Red Flag.

“While these had treaty status, furthermore, the final act was ‘politically binding’ only,” the authors continued. Vatican conservatives were disappointed, thinking that the Soviet bloc had gotten off easy. But the real importance of this for the future, structurally speaking, was that it created a nebulous, non-institutional and diplomatically illegitimate area in which the CSCE (and future OSCE) could operate, with neither responsibility nor accountability- at the same time however increasing its leverage, funding and influence over real-world political, social and crisis events.

Similarly, owing to the geopolitical realities of 1973, the whole CSCE infrastructure and interface were made equally elusive. An annual rotating presidency (in 2015, being held by Serbia) would give individual states some sense of participation, but it also further decentralized responsibility and diffused records.

Meanwhile, the rules for consensus on decision-making were deliberately weak: negotiators took a negative approach. Quoting from the formative Blue Book of the negotiations, author Jan Sizoo recalled in 1984’s CSCE Decision-Making: the Madrid Experience what those present agreed: that in theory “consensus shall be understood to mean the absence of any objection… to the taking of the decision.”

This meant that silence by itself simply meant agreement, institutionalizing abstention and thus making it much easier for weak member countries to defer to the wishes of strong ones without having to risk political consequences. However, some parties were more resolute: “the Vatican representative during the Helsinki Consultations made the principled statement that his silence was not to be interpreted as agreement but rather as an effort not to stand in the way of the consensus.”

This sort of weak decision-making structure in an organization that only enjoyed legitimacy through simple political agreement laid very unstable foundations for the future OSCE. Just as bad, a tendency toward bureaucratic obfuscation that has similarly been inherited was also noted even from the beginning. For example, Sizoo added, “the official publications of the Final Act and subsequent concluding documents do not extend to reservations and interpretative statements made so that only specialized CSCE know anything about them.” The author also noted how difficult it was to find much of the original documentation, that at that time was of fairly recent provenance.

Although the creation of a permanent secretariat since then (and the development of the internet) have to some extent improves access to documentation, good luck getting anything meaningful from OSCE officials: theirs remains a notoriously secretive organization. Investigating its inner workings is an almost impossible task, partially because of the fear and paranoia the organization instills in its own employees- a condition which, somewhat ironically, would be more appropriate to some communist dictatorship of yesteryear. This, however, is a story for another time.

The Vatican’s Approach to the CSCE as Representative of its Overall Diplomatic Tactics

As we shall soon see in the troubled modern history of Holy See-OSCE relations, the former has tended to view the latter as a necessary evil- a body with significant cachet that must be dealt with, but one that has become far less friendly than it could have been since those optimistic early days.

The fact that the Holy See picked someone of Casaroli’s caliber in 1973, and that it would use its considerable diplomatic capital to have him chair the conference of the nascent CSCE, also reaffirms the value that the Vatican has historically placed on being involved in multilateral treaties and diplomatic processes. It has done this in part to make up for its small size and to preserve its sense of equality as a state actor under international law. For its voice to be heard more often on the world stage, groups like the OSCE play a useful role for the Vatican’s diplomatic projection.

Indeed, even if no one really could say what tangible results might come of the Helsinki Process in the 1970s, the Vatican’s keen instincts for taking a leading role in international diplomacy were evident at a time when it was gearing up to select a pope who would help take down communism. (The fear that if elected, Krakow Archbishop Karol Wojtyla would act aggressively against the Soviet Union was accurately predicted by Hungarian intelligence, several years before his papal election- as we discuss in our book).

Cardinal Casaroli was less of a hardliner than the Polish pope’s other advisors, and his ostpolitik outreach was thus mistrusted by some churchmen who favored blocking relations with the communist world as a sort of general protest against repression of religious freedom. Nevertheless, Casaroli’s policy prevailed, and he would play an instrumental diplomatic role in dealing with the declining Soviet empire.

The Post-Soviet Transformation of the CSCE/OSCE: The Power Grab

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Holy See went into high gear in the Balkans, marshalling support in European countries for the independence of Catholic Slovenia and Croatia, while moving quickly to revive its former fortunes in long-atheist Albania, and gradually to play a tacit role in the Kosovo negotiations.

The new European situation also meant that the CSCE, which had played a genuinely multilateral role previously, would be re-oriented towards a decisively liberal, pro-Western ideology. This is extremely important to note because it is not at all clear how this ideology – one that does not nearly represent the majority view of the citizens of the OSCE’s current 57 member states – was institutionalized. Precisely because of the enormous influence that the OSCE still retains over things like approval of election results, this is a question that should be raised, but never is.

The CSCE was renamed the OSCE on January 1, 1995, following a conference held the year before in Budapest. It was the conclusion of a post-Cold War initiative, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, signed in November 1990. The OSCE, though it was neither a state nor subject of international law, was institutionalized according to consensus and given a bureaucratic structure; this would consist of a formal secretariat, senior council, parliamentary assembly, conflict prevention center, and office for free elections (which would later become the so-called Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or ODIHR). While the OSCE leadership was based in Vienna, the latter was based in Warsaw.

This was followed by the December 1996 Lisbon Declaration on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century (official document available here). Referencing both the Final Act of 1975 and the recent Paris agreement, this was where the organization made its definitive power grab, assigning to itself superhuman capabilities, the effects of which we are still suffering from today. (Not coincidentally, this was also the period in which gangster capitalism and Yeltsin’s weak rule brought Russian bargaining power to its lowest ebb).

For example, Article 4 notes that “respect for human rights remains fundamental to our concept of democracy and to the democratization process enshrined in the Charter of Paris. We are determined to consolidate the democratic gains that have occurred since 1989 and peacefully manage their further development in the OSCE region.” That is not ambiguous.

The next clause, number 5, really raises eyebrows: “the OSCE has a key role to play in fostering security and stability in all their dimensions.” This is quite a statement for a quasi-institution lacking any real status, in which consensus can be achieved simply by abstention. The clause urges the OSCE “to continue our efforts and further enhance its efficiency as a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation capabilities.”

In article 9, the OSCE further gave itself the mandate to enforce the social orientation of all member states, “with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The aim was “to anchor the common values of a free and democratic society in all participating states,” and to address alleged human-rights violations such as “involuntary migration, and the lack of full democratization, threats to independent media, electoral fraud, manifestations of aggressive nationalism, racism, chauvinism and anti-Semitism.”

The lack of a specific mention of anti-Christian attacks, and the need to protect Christians, in this clause would irritate the Vatican and in part help fuel the latter’s tenacious drive in subsequent years to have more attention paid to this issue. However, the backwards-looking nature of both the entire OSCE process and the church, which built their agendas out of an obsession with Communism, was ill-suited to a future reality when social values, technology, terrorism and the weather would become the most significant new features of political and social discourse. Lack of legitimacy aside, the nascent OSCE was therefore from the beginning ill-suited to tackling the emerging threats to world security.

In the 11th article, the group mandated itself the task of creating a position of an “OSCE representative for freedom of the media,” as part of its self-appointed mission to handle this burning issue, again within the backwards-looking context of communist oppression. In the 12th, the group expanded its powers widely and vaguely to include “security-related economic, social and environmental issues.” Numerous subsequent motions in the document regarding the Balkans and Caucasus indicate the degree to which the OSCE as a body developed its inherent institutional memory from the challenges of the years in which it first developed. This helps to explain the OSCE’s continued obsession and sense of entitlement in the Balkans today, in much different times.

The Great Legitimization: NATO Recognition of OSCE Power

Crucially, the OSCE was given further legitimacy by NATO the following year in the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation, and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation. Here the OSCE is credited as “the only pan-European security organisation,” one which “has a key role in European peace and stability.” It is thus highly significant to note that, again, the institutionalization and practical canonization of the OSCE occurred at the nadir of Russian strength under Yeltsin, and at a time when UN peacekeeping bodies (the ostensibly legitimate security actors) were being widely criticized for failures in different parts of the world. The document continued by adding that “in strengthening the OSCE, NATO and Russia will cooperate to prevent any possibility of returning to a Europe of division and confrontation, or the isolation of any state.”

In consideration of the OSCE’s work on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-First Century, and the Lisbon Summit’s Charter on European security, NATO and Russia pledged to “seek the widest possible cooperation among participating States of the OSCE with the aim of creating in Europe a common space of security and stability, without dividing lines or spheres of influence limiting the sovereignty of any state.”

However, at the OSCE’s Istanbul summit two years later, the demand for a political settlement to the Chechnya crisis confirmed Russian concerns that the OSCE was in fact a tool of the West. Yet rather than exit the quasi-institution, Moscow decided to take advantage of its participation within it wherever it could, which is the same policy all other members have followed, to the extent to which they can- essentially reduplicating the same differences and animosities the whole enterprise was ideally meant to minimize in the first place.

This is the short version of how the outcome of a Cold War negotiation process eventually turned into a de facto institution wielding influence far beyond that of many states, while nevertheless not even existing as such. However, despite internal diplomatic and intelligence operations that would be expected within such a large and divergent body, the OSCE’s neo-liberal and ‘progressive’ worldview has remained stubbornly entrenched. And this is a large part of how the OSCE came into confrontation with the Vatican.

Vatican Concern over the OSCE’s Perceived Deviation from its Original Mandate: the 2008 Frontiero Intervention

While the Holy See has a clear hierarchy and, except for the odd exception, keeps discipline with the Catholic ranks, the OSCE is remarkable in that the liberal ideology it lives by is not even shared by all of its own employees, let alone the grand ‘international community’ it claims to represent. Some magical, invisible force seems to keep the organization’s public utterances pristine and political correct, however.

This comes into focus in terms of issues that are important for the Vatican (as well as other religious institutions). For example, while the OSCE is very active on the gay-rights agenda, only about a third of member states allow gay marriage, several have constitutional bans against it, and some large countries (such as Russia) have laws against ‘gay propaganda.’ And even in the United States, which seems inevitably headed for universal gay marriage, a large and vocal opposition continues to be mounted by Christian and other opponents.

The OSCE’s contemporary reorientation towards the championing of groups and causes not envisioned in its founding documents of 1973 has caused great consternation in the Holy See in recent years, but hardly only due to the ‘culture wars’ aspects of it. Rather, the OSCE is seen by the Curia as upholding moral relativism socially, while also impotently watching the wholesale destruction of Christianity in the Middle East from the sidelines.

Even before the final coming of Islamic State, this has been a point which the Vatican has tried, more or less unsuccessfully, to put higher on the OSCE agenda. For example, Msgr. Anthony Frontiero of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace made an impassioned speech in an October 2008 working group on ‘Combating Hate Crimes against Christians and Members of Other Religions’ with ODIHR in Warsaw. “The issue of religious freedom, of course, and the right to believe in God and to practice that belief, is a fundamental human right, one that is very much a part of the OSCE commitments,” affirmed the Vatican delegate.

In order to better understand the current situation and archival documents presented, it is worth citing Msgr. Frontiero’s 2008 argument in detail:

“The Holy See has expressed its deep concern over these situations in a concrete way through its active participation in the meetings of the National Points of Contact on combating hate crime organized by the ODIHR, and by joining in the comprehensive consultation process on this issue with governments and civil society alike. While the Holy See appreciates the efforts of the OSCE and ODIHR in combating hate crimes, it is increasingly concerned that the ODIHR is moving away from its strong commitment to combating hate crimes against Christians and members of other religions, and shifting its focus instead, and without the consensus of participating States, to other concerns. Hate crimes, intolerance and discrimination against Christians and members of other religions continue all too frequently and yet the ODIHR is increasingly downplaying these incidents and promoting other agendas that do not find a mandate in the OSCE commitments.

This is abundantly clear from the 2007 Annual Report on Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region—Incidents and Responses, and it is cause for alarm for the Delegation of the Holy See, which has repeatedly asked the ODIHR to refrain from putting the incidents of Christians and members of other religions on the back burner, and to remain appropriately focused on this OSCE agreed commitments. This said, the Holy See reiterates its call for a more balanced and transparent approach on the part of the ODIHR, in accordance with Ministerial Decisions and existing commitments.”

Although the words ‘gay rights’ are not mentioned, it is clear that the monsignor’s complaints have to do with the championing of issues such as these, that were not anticipated in 1973 and that have crept up into the OSCE mandate more or less as a result of changing cultural norms in the Western world. As a result, the Holy See (and Christianity in general) is in the present moment perceiving external hostility not only from those who set out to violently attack Christians, but the many more who discredit its tenets and beliefs.

The Arab Spring and the Evolution of Vatican Policy towards the OSCE under Benedict XVI

The Holy See’s concerns voiced in 2008 and earlier intensified as the predictably destructive Arab Spring got underway in early 2011. The Vatican was working on a policy developed under Pope Benedict XVI, long known as particularly sensitive to the issue of Christian survival in intolerant conditions. Practically coinciding with the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a roundtable was held at the Alcide De Gasperi Centre in Rome to discuss the issues. Entitled Preventing and Responding to Hate and Crimes against Christians, it was held under the then-Lithuanian chairmanship of the OSCE on September 12, 2011.

According to the official transcript, then-Secretary for Relations between States Msgr. Dominique Mamberti reminded attendees that “the Holy See is a participating State of OSCE since its inception in 1975 and seeks to contribute vigorously to OSCE activities and projects both through direct participation and through its Permanent Mission in Vienna.”

The Holy See’s strategy and pressure for further engagement, developed since 2007, further had born fruit in May 2011 when, Msgr. Mamberti added, “the three Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office for combating intolerance and discrimination conducted their first visit to the Vatican, an event which further highlighted the continuous cooperation between OSCE and the Holy See.”

The State Secretary further noted the historical and legal view of OSCE responsibilities, which again confirms the strategic view of the Catholic Church towards continued participation in the group. “A main reason for this Round Table Discussion is the fact that the guarantee of religious freedom has always been, and still is, at the core of OSCE activities,” he said.

“Ever since it was enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and reaffirmed in no uncertain terms in subsequent documents, among which the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document and the 1990 Document of the Copenhagen Meeting on the Human Dimension of the then CSCE, the safeguarding of religious liberty has continued to occupy a central place in the comprehensive approach of OSCE to security issues.”
Regarding hate crimes against Christians, Mamberti referred to Pope Benedict’s 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace, in which the former pontiff said that “at present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development.”

While Mamberti conceded that the majority of hate crimes against Christians happen outside the OSCE area, he stated that there are “warning signs even within that area.” He cited the ODIHR’s annual hate crime report as providing “irrefutable proof of a growing intolerance against Christians,” and that to ignore this “sends a negative signal” to non-member states as well.

Further, in articulating that “a renewed awareness of the problem be raised everywhere,” Mamberti referenced the Resolution of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly “adopted this year in Belgrade as an important step towards “initiat[ing] a public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians, as stated in the document. Hopefully, concrete measures will be developed to combat intolerance against Christians as a follow-up of this Conference.”

What did the Vatican see as the solution? Mamberti again referenced comments from Benedict XVI regarding how best “to promote and consolidate religious liberty, the concept of which must be clear from the outset.”

“In his address of January 10, 2011, to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, the Holy Father argued that religious liberty is ‘the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator.’

Mamberti also quoted Benedict as having said religious freedom worldwide is “often called into question or violated” and that “society, its leaders and public opinion are becoming more and more aware, even if not always in a clear way, of this grave attack on the dignity and freedom of homo religiosus.”

Theological and Real-World Implications of Pope Benedict’s Stance: the Church Vs. Moral Relativism and Radical Secularism

Pope Benedict XVI was and is known as a theologian first and foremost, and his careful consideration of the wider definition of religious freedom – which informs the sort of hate crimes ostensibly covered by the OSCE – is part of what made a train wreck between the two institutions inevitable.

This is made obvious from the remainder of Mamberti’s 2011 lecture to the assembled OSCE audience. The argument presented seeks a much wider definition for hate crimes and anti-religious activities- an attitude revealed in the leaked Vatican documents we make available below. “It follows that religious freedom cannot be restricted to the simple freedom of worship,” the cleric said, “although the latter is obviously an important part of it.” Rather, he continued, “religious freedom includes, among others, the right to preach, educate, convert, contribute to the political discourse and participate fully in public activities.”

If the idea of Christianity appearing in public policy formulation were not enough to make OSCE liberal bureaucrats squirm in their chairs, the State Secretary’s further contentions certainly were. “Nor is true religious liberty synonymous with relativism or with the post-modern idea that religion is a marginal component of public life,” he challenged the audience. “Pope Benedict XVI has often underscored the danger of a radical secularism that relegates, a priori, all kinds of religious manifestations to the private sphere.”

Further, Mamberti added, “relativism and secularism deny two fundamental aspects of the religious phenomenon, and hence of the right to religious freedom, that call for respect: the transcendental and the social dimensions of religion in which the human person seeks to be related, according to the dictates of his conscience, to the reality, so to say, above and around him. Religion is more than just a private opinion or Weltanschauung. It always has an impact on society and its moral principles.”

He further expressed the Holy See’s gratitude to the OSCE for denouncing the kind of ‘hard’ persecution suffered by Christians (attacks, murder, etc.). However, he added, that is only one part of the full hate-crimes portfolio: “if it is true that the risk of hate crimes is connected to the denial of religious liberty, we should not forget that there are serious problems even in areas of the world where fortunately there is no violent persecution of Christians. Sadly, acts motivated by bias against Christians are fast becoming a reality also in those countries where they constitute a majority.”

Mamberti again referred to Pope Benedict’s same speech to the Diplomatic Corps, in which the uncompromising pope singled out the moral relativists of the West: “turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society.”

What the Vatican policy was getting at, therefore, was to instrumentalize an untrustworthy but necessary commodity – the ultra-liberal, unavoidable and influential OSCE – to transmit its theological views of an expanded ‘hate crimes’ definition, ideally, with real-world examples.

Indeed, Mamberti hoped, the 2011 conference would “help to shed light on the incidence of hate crimes against Christians even in regions where international public opinion would not normally expect them to happen. For hate crimes almost invariably feed on an environment where religious freedom is not fully respected and religion is discriminated against.”

In case there was still any misunderstanding about the Vatican’s venture, Mamberti added that “it is important that we continue our conversation on the substance of religious liberty, on its fundamental connection with the idea of truth, and on the difference between religious freedom and relativism that merely tolerates religion while considering it with some degree of hostility.”

Whether or not the latter reference was a veiled reference to the OSCE, it is indisputable, as we will see, that the OSCE’s own structure of hate crimes would definitely put it in that category, as far as the Vatican is concerned.

To appreciate the complexity of the Benedictine theological approach to the issue (which assuredly goes way over the heads of OSCE bureaucrats, who are in any case not interested in the subject), it is worth quoting in detail Mamberti’s citation of the pope’s 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace. In it, the Vatican diplomat notes:

“Religious freedom – the Holy Father said – should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth. […] A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others.

A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has no objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an ‘identity’ to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other ‘wills’, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other ‘reasons’ or, for that matter, no ‘reason’ at all.

The illusion that moral relativism provides the key for peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions and the denial of the dignity of human beings.”

From this definition, Mamberti concluded that “precisely this vision which identifies freedom with relativism or militant agnosticism, and which casts doubt on the possibility of ever knowing the truth, could be an underlying factor in the increased occurrence of those hate incidents and crimes which will be the object of our debate today.”

An Unwelcome Reorientation of OSCE Values

If there really was a debate on that day in 2011, then the Vatican does not seem to have won over anyone in OSCE-land, as a careful review of their hate crimes reports shows no entries of any violations having to do with justifications arising from Benedict’s expansive theology. Rather, the hate crimes noted are merely the usual, garden-variety acts of vandalism and harassment. Yet this still does not answer the question of whether such data was collected by the Vatican and deliberately excluded by the OSCE due to ideological differences, or simply was never collected or presented by the Vatican at all. Since neither side would comment for this article, it will probably remain a mystery for the ages.

Whatever the case may be, the OSCE does seem to have an institutional anti-Christian bias, or at least negligence, in its priorities and emphasis. Of great significance in Msgr. Frontiero’s 2008 speech was the very fact that he was specifically talking about violations against ‘Christians and members of other religions.’

This is not just a question of random wording. Rather, it follows the exact category structure of victim groups on the OSCE website, which distinguishes hate crimes according to the following ‘bias motivators’: racism and xenophobia; bias against Roma and Sinti; Anti-Semitism; bias against Muslims; bias against Christians and members of other religions; bias against other groups, and bias against LGBT people.

Adding insult to injury for the Vatican, whereas Christians – the majority population in the OSCE region – are lumped in with ‘members of other religions,’ Muslims receive generous special treatment. They even get their own focus groups and government trainings by the OSCE, as well as special assistance documents: one is entitled, ‘How Can We Address Hate Crimes against Muslims?’ Another is called ‘Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education.’ The latter text is available in six languages and comprises consultations from around 40 experts, including academics and representatives of UNESCO, various NGOs and other ‘stakeholders.’ It must have been fairly expensive to produce. There are zero documents of comparable depth or importance on the relevant OSCE page regarding Christianity.

2015: A Partial Result for the Holy See

Years of lobbying, combined with the increasingly obvious existential crisis for Christians in the Middle East, led the OSCE to again entertain the Vatican’s request for a conference, on May 18, 2015, devoted to discrimination against Christians. An official summary discussed the proceedings. Delegations from various OSCE member states and NGO’s working on intolerance and discrimination against Christians spoke in three sessions “about the importance of enhancing efforts to prevent and combat intolerance and discrimination against Christians in the OSCE region, focusing on hate crimes, exclusion, marginalization and denial of rights.”

The Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), which covers 45 countries, was represented at the 2015 OSCE conference by Fr. Michel Remery, CCEE Vice-Secretary General, and Miss Raffaella Di Noia, an up-and-coming young Italian scholar with experience dealing with UN institutions for the Holy See in Geneva. Fr. Remery is notable as being the Holy See’s National Point of Contact for hate crimes against Christians. As such he was part of the Holy See’s official delegation, led by Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See at the OSCE and other international organizations based in Vienna.

Msgr. Urbańczyk had previously been Vatican emissary to the UN in New York. A Polish priest ordained in 1992, he was nominated by Pope Francis on January 12, 2015 to the sensitive posting in Vienna, where he now has to deal with the often prickly and self-important OSCE administrative personalities on a regular basis. However, Urbańczyk’s remit also involves diplomacy with other, serious international bodies: these include the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

The May 2015 Conference as Confirmation of Vatican Policy Continuity on Religious Freedom

While researching this subject over the past year or so, we have had to ask an important question: whether some of the policy areas outlined in the 2011 Vatican questionnaire could have been uniquely commissioned by the more conservative Benedict XVI, according to his theological arguments of that year already quoted at length, and that they therefore may have been excluded from subsequent years’ questionnaires by the more liberal-minded pontiff in Pope Francis.

While this question is an important one, it will have to remain unanswered due to the unavailability of other more recent questionnaires and non-cooperation of Vatican officials. Nevertheless, any theological or policy deviation seems highly unlikely, judging by the tone and statements of the May 2015 conference. Even in the time of the supposedly more liberal Francis, these positions indicate a continued concern with issues regarding religious freedom specific to Christianity articulated in 2011 (and at all times earlier). There is thus no reason to suspect any doctrinal change in the past four years.

For example, in the conference the Holt See stated that “it is well documented that year after year Christians are the religious group most persecuted and discriminated against on the global level. In certain regions, including those at the doorstep of the OSCE region, one could even speak of genocidal tendencies in these persecutions. Thankfully, the Christians living in the OSCE region are spared such atrocities.”

More significantly, the Vatican participants also noted that “particularly worrisome is the fact that across the OSCE region a sharp dividing line has been drawn between religious belief and religious practice, so that Christians are frequently reminded in public discourse or even in the courts, that they can believe whatever they like in private, and worship as they wish in their own churches, but they simply cannot act on those beliefs in public.” This indicates that Benedict’s affirmation of Christian freedom to participate in public policy has not been altered by the current pontiff.

As we will see from the official Vatican documentation below, this remains a very sensitive spot which the OSCE refuses to consider in its reportage, straining relations with the Holy See still further as the cold war between the two drags on. That the two parties remain fundamentally at odds was confirmed by this striking conference statement:

“Tolerance towards one view should not lead to intolerance towards others. Intolerance in the name of ‘tolerance’ must be named for what it is and publicly condemned. To deny religiously informed moral arguments a place in the public square is intolerant, anti-democratic and anti-religious.”

These are strong words and no doubt greatly irritated the liberal OSCE representatives forced to be in attendance. In a cruel irony, the organization that the Vatican was quick to get behind in 1973 for the sake of religious freedom has turned out to be one of its gravest adversaries on the same issue, in a socially and politically distinct era.

However, despite their awareness that priorities in the OSCE have changed considerably in today’s post-Christian Europe, the Vatican remains true to its policy of using membership in international organizations such as this to make a case for its foreign policy and moral argument. Rather than censure the organization or even leave it, the Vatican seems to be retaining a patient but persistent policy of advocacy. It is better to make the best of a bad situation, it reasons, than to be excluded and have no voice at all. The Holy See thus concluded with the following invocation:

“We call upon the participating States to act clearly against such hate crimes and to protect the Christians in their territories. Furthermore, we encourage them to report these incidents and seriously engage in ensuring that all their citizens, including Christians, can live peacefully, freely professing and practising their faith.”

‘Hate Crimes’ Defined, Preferential Treatment and OSCE/ODIHR Operational Methodology

Like everything else about this quasi-institution, the OSCE’s definition of ‘hate crimes’ is somewhat opaque. According to the OSCE:

Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by bias or prejudice towards particular groups of people. To be considered a hate crime, the offence must meet two criteria: First, the act must constitute an offence under criminal law; second, the act must have been motivated by bias.

Bias motivations can be broadly defined as preconceived negative opinions, stereotypical assumptions, intolerance or hatred directed to a particular group that shares a common characteristic, such as race, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender or any other fundamental characteristic. People with disabilities may also be victims of hate crimes.”

Essentially, what the OSCE (through its ODIHR office in Warsaw) has done since 2004 is to collect, confirm and publish reports of hate crimes in the above categories, drawing on information gained from National Points of Contact in each OSCE member state. Such persons are entrusted with being the liaison and guaranteeing a smooth and accurate flow of data. The OSCE claims to work with religious organizations and NGOs, but to confirm the findings through getting official feedback from law enforcement officials in each country. Although some OSCE-member governments keep official logs of ‘hate crimes,’ many others do not. Thus, the final reports are uneven, and do note some cases in which a nominated hate crime cannot be confirmed by the authorities.

For a categorical example, according to the OSCE, “the Holy See has no hate crime laws and does not provide official data on hate crime to ODIHR. The Holy See reports on hate incidents related to bias against Christians in other participating States.” In fact, reading through numerous ODIHR reports indicates that the Vatican is one of the most active contributors of hate-crime information in numerous countries, though ODIHR often fails to confirm the Vatican’s assertion of bias.

ODIHR’s annual hate crime reporting cycle includes a multi-stage approach, which culminates with publication on November 18th, the so-called ‘Tolerance Day’:

“First, the Office issues a call for submissions to OSCE participating States, civil society organizations and its partner intergovernmental organizations. Second, ODIHR analyses reported data and information, and assesses whether it can be included in the report. Third, the Office releases data for consultation with participating States and other contributors. Lastly, ODIHR reviews suggested amendments to the report, updates to include late submissions, and prepares the information for final presentation.”

While this might all sound well and good, a careful reading of multiple ODIHR reports indicates that the structure, in which states are called upon to verify the charges made by claimants, is rigged against the Holy See. More often than not, the counter-confirmation of the ‘reporting country’ is given the benefit of the doubt, when denying that a particular offense was in fact religiously-motivated. On the other hand, NGOs reporting on more liberal-friendly causes like gay rights tend to be given the benefit of the doubt when claiming that an offense was committed due to bias. (We also know of cases in which Balkan NGOs, but not Christian ones, have literally and covertly attacked their own premises in the hopes of getting more sympathy and thus more grants money).

At the same time, the ODIHR assessors seem to give the benefit of the doubt much more frequently to reporting bodies (religious and NGOs) alleging ‘Islamophobic’ or ‘homophobic’ attacks. OSCE advocacy even goes as far as a full booklet entitled Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education.

There are thus several questionable aspects regarding the structure of OSCE/ODIHR hate crimes reporting, over a sustained period of time. Victim group preferences and strident political correctness are clearly visible. This can safely be considered a chosen policy, though who particularly chose it remains unclear.

Finally, regarding methodology it must be noted that NPCs in participating states “are given individual access to a web-based questionnaire,” which covers five main areas. The first is data collection methods (identifying which authorities collect data, what types of crimes and bias motivations are noted, etc). The second regards existing and proposed hate crime legislation. The third incorporates reported hate crime data, in the (relatively few) countries where hate crimes are specifically identified.

Fourth, the questionnaire considers policies and initiatives (including trainings, victim-support programmes, government and NGO activity and so on). Finally, the NPCs are asked to identify notable cases “that merited a specific response from police and other criminal justice agencies.”

The OSCE/ODIHR Hate Crime Report Methodology and the Vatican’s Turn to Creative Phrasing

The foregoing gives a good context for a deeper understanding of the leaked Vatican documents obtained by in the present report. Although they date from the year 2012, and refer to the year 2011, they confirm several important details about the relationship between the Holy See and the OSCE/ODIHR, not to mention the Vatican’s relationship with Balkan states and its own self-perceived role as a defender of Christian rights and values.

Considering the organized nature of the OSCE’s online questionnaires for NPCs, it is quite striking to note from the internal documents that the Vatican aims to circumvent this structure with its own format; nevertheless, for all its efforts, the Vatican’s uniquely-phrased questions have zero chance of appearing in any report published by a liberal organization like the OSCE.

Nevertheless, the precise and legalistic formulations of these questions is remarkable, no matter how unlikely they are to elicit a response that could be accepted by the OSCE under its own specific understanding of ‘hate crimes.’

To illustrate the yawning, irreconcilable gulf between the value systems of the Holy See and the OSCE, we can simply reproduce a few of the former’s entries on the 2011 hate crimes questionnaire. It is very likely that the Vatican also uses the questions on this questionnaire as a template for other of its questionnaires circulated around the world. The below questionnaire is thus probably not unique to the Balkans, despite having been circulated there.

One provocative question asks: “is it legally possible in your country for a pharmacist to decline the sale of abortifacients (the morning after pill, RU486) for ethical, conscientious or religious reasons?

Also regarding abortion, another question asks: “are there legal provisions that prohibit or otherwise limit the ability of Christians to demonstrate peacefully in public in front of clinics or other ‘health institutions’ that provide services contrary to human life?”

Another question sure to make any ODIHR liberal spontaneously combust would be the third one: “are there legal provisions that prohibit or otherwise limit the ability of Christians to publically express the immorality of homosexual acts, even while respecting the inherent dignity of homosexual people?”

As we have not seen any completed form, but only the empty one provided by the Holy See’s nunciature in Sofia, Bulgaria, it is impossible to know whether any local authorities even bothered to answer these questions. Certainly, Church diplomats already known well that even if they were supported by voluminous evidence, such topics would have no chance of being acceptable to the ODIHR evaluators. Still, the Holy See is duty-bound to try, as was made clear by Pope Benedict’s theological argument for religious freedoms, and thus, the perceived violations of them.

The Holy See’s Liaison with Intelligence Services as a Precautionary Measure to Expected OSCE Resistance

At the same time, the Holy See is well aware that the OSCE’s verification process sets the bar higher for Christian complainers than for others. From the point of view of the security community, this is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the whole operation. The Vatican’s field representatives’ decision to have questionnaires passed through secret channels to police and intelligence officials is due to an awareness that state bodies are, under the OSCE’s process, obliged to confirm or deny the anti-Christian character of any particular violation.

Therefore, the Holy See reasons it has a better chance of getting a sympathetic confirmation from the authorities – which would bolster its case in the final OSCE reportage – if it has advance knowledge that the state in question will support its specific claims. The need for this is quite obvious; a careful examination of OSCE reports in recent years shows that the reporting states generally have not confirmed many specific anti-Christian biases in attacks against churches and other violations, ones which the Holy See has specifically pointed to as being examples of Christian persecution. For both those persons charged with collecting the data and the curia, this must be a deeply frustrating lack of result.

It should be noted that the OSCE’s process here is not a secret. The organization’s website states that “the Holy See also collects information on hate incidents based on bias against Christians through its network of regional representatives. This information is submitted by ODIHR to authorities in the respective participating States for verification and information on the status of investigation and of hate motive.”

Aware that this practice will occur and may endanger the inclusion of a reported hate crime, the nuncio’s offices are tasked with liaising indirectly with the intelligence services of the countries in which they operate and hope to cover. While there is no evidence that the Vatican tries to exert pressure to get ‘a result’ through this practice, it is also clear that strategically the church wishes to gain an advantage over a hostile OSCE by previewing potential complaints with security services; however, the latter do not seem to have put any kind of priority on this mission, however. Instead, in some countries the practice has just served to cultivate internal suspicions over the scale of Vatican ambitions.

However, the Holy See does not have to rely merely on official connections. This (attempted) liaison activity is meant to complement the Catholic Church’s formidable intelligence-gathering apparatus, which includes church structures, charities, prominent individuals, and collaborators like the Knights of Malta, which has an official envoy in Sofia as well as other Balkan countries.

Vatican spying activity in Bulgaria “is not too problematic,” says one nonchalant Bulgarian security official for “We are aware of it, and we keep it under control.” Nevertheless, might the fact that the current documents were leaked from that country be understood as a sort of message? “I don’t know,” replied the officer. “Maybe it bothers the [Bulgarian Orthodox] Church more than us. Or politicians. Ask them.”

Vatican Nuncio Activities in Bulgaria, and the Uruguay Connection

There could be other reasons for discontent, however. As we chronicle in The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans, there have been issues between the two in recent years. First, in 2012, the Holy See rejected the Bulgarian government’s appointment of ambassadorial candidate Kyril Marichkov, the grandson of another Kyril Marichkov, who had held the same position at the Holy See in the ‘warm years’ after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1993-1997). Officially, the Vatican had criticized the younger Marichkov’s lack of professional experience. The Holy See also argued that the young man did not meet the requirement for diplomatic delegates in Rome, since he was living in Italy already. However, the real reason for rejecting Marichkov, many in Italy believed, was because he had written a novel about a Bulgarian émigré in Italy- a book which contained homosexual scenes.

More recently, Msgr. Anselmo Guido Pecorari, the Vatican nuncio in Sofia since April 2014 and a 35-year veteran of papal diplomatic service, has been occasionally involved with discussing domestic politics. On 23 July 2014, when Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski suddenly resigned (the second prime minister to have done so in less than one year, Msgr. Pecorari stated that “Bulgaria does not need troublemakers now, but builders of bridges between different communities,” reported SIR (Servizio Informazione Religiosa) on 4 August 2014. SIR also clarified that the nuncio’s focus “will be above all directed towards the local Catholic Church, and will involve a dialogue with Orthodox and Muslim brothers.”

An equally distinguished a personality was Msgr. Pecorari’s predecessor, Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, who retired in 2013 having served his final five years as Nuncio to Bulgaria (and, for the final three, as Nuncio to Macedonia too). Bolonek had had a long and distinguished career serving in difficult assignments in Ivory Coast, Niger and Burkina Faso (from 1989-1995). It was Msgr. Bolonek himself, in fact, who in January 2012 commissioned and signed the hate crimes questionnaire request that we bring to light for the first time below.

The activities of the two no-nonsense nuncios were by then already intertwined, however, in an area that would make some of the questionnaire’s subjects particularly significant.

Before his 2014 Bulgaria-Macedonia appointment, Msgr. Pecorari had served (from 2008) as nuncio to Uruguay. Immediately preceding him in Uruguay (from May 1999 to 2008) was Msgr. Bolonek, who in this peculiar game of musical chairs would go on from there to Bulgaria.

In Uruguay, Msgr. Bolonek had taken an activist role against abuses of office in a scandal that both he and Msgr. Pecorari had to handle with extreme discretion. This case underscores the tendency for Balkan nuncios to have prior experience dealing with sensitive situations.

At some point after arriving in 1999, Msgr. Bolonek learned of a scandal involving Msgr. Battista Ricca, a Vatican diplomat in Uruguay who had reportedly engaged in an illicit gay affair with a young Swiss Guardsman. Considering the affair improper at best and harmful to the Church’s image at worst (it had become an open secret in Uruguayan society), Msgr. Bolonek repeatedly demanded Msgr. Ricca be removed. However, as later Italian media investigations revealed, close colleagues in the so-called Vatican ‘Gay Lobby’ assisted Ricca by quieting the scandal, and actually helped elevate Ricca, until he eventually became the director of the papal residence, Casa Santa Martha.

The scandal, which shook Rome in July 2013, was particularly sensitive because Msgr. Ricca had actually recently been nominated to head the Vatican Bank (formally, the Institute for the Works of Religion) by Pope Francis, who had reportedly been kept in the dark about the whole affair. In his July 2013 report, l’Espresso’s Sandro Magister chronicled the long history of internal cover-ups that abetted Ricca’s discreet promotions. During his Uruguay nunciature, Msgr. Pecorari had thus been sitting on a ticking time bomb, and his handling of the sensitive affair indicated to the pope his ability to deal with complex situations; certainly, there are enough complexities involved with his current Balkan posting to indicate the appropriateness of the posting.

This highly unusual shared experience of two consecutive nuncios in the same two countries is worth mentioning, as the Ricca affair would have been an issue of quiet concern affecting for both men at the time in which the present questionnaire, with its comments about gay issues, was being written up- quite possibly and ironically, to be handed back to the so-called ‘gay lobby’ in Vatican City attested by Italian media. As the saying goes, you could not make this stuff up.

Conclusion: The OSCE/ODIHR Reports Indicate a Lack of Result for the Holy See

In the OSCE report on Christian violations, none of the above-cited concerns are reported. Again, it cannot be confirmed whether this is because no such incidents occurred, or whether there were simply no reported incidents during the period in question. Depending on how zealous one was in investigating, he could however find examples of violations, even on the most controversial questions, in Macedonia and Bulgaria. However, the actual existence of any Vatican questionnaire on hate crimes almost unknown publicly, due to the obsessive secrecy of the Holy See- which, paradoxically, limits its ability to collect data from local Christians.

Thus, successive ODIHR hate crime reports have not gone into great depth in researching hate crimes against Christians. They have tended to specify crimes like graffiti and vandalism against places of worship, the desecration of cemeteries and arson attacks against churches as the most common types of crimes motivated by bias against ‘Christians and members of other religions.’

However, and not surprisingly, the OSCE has categorically avoided any of the other, more controversial issues that the Holy See regards as intrinsic to its view of religious freedom. These include high-profile issues mentioned above like contraception, abortion and homosexuality. Both the OSCE and the Vatican have their own philosophies and definitions for human freedom, religious rights and morality, which are generally antithetical and mutually exclusive.

Thus, in the absence of a more open and honest discussion, it is likely that the OSCE will continue to grumpily tolerate (and ignore) the Vatican’s morally-based complaints, while the latter will continue to futilely make its case regardless, seeking to exploit the OSCE’s perceived influence in world affairs. And so, it looks like, the cold war will continue.



Vatican OSCE letter Balkanalysis 1

Document 1. The first page of the letter sent from Sofia by former Nuncio Bolonek, dated January 13, 2012. Addressed to Macedonian Catholic Archbishop Kiro Stojanov, the letter asks for assistance in compiling data regarding hate crimes against Christians in Macedonia during 2011. The letter, written in Italian, bears the official insignia of the Sofia nunciature.


Vatican OSCE letter Balkanalysis 2

Document 2. The second and final page of Msgr. Bolonek’s letter expands on the kinds of hate crimes for which the Vatican seeks data. The letter requests that the reply be sent back by January 26- a tall order, being barely two weeks from the commissioning date. The letter is signed by the nuncio himself.


Vatican OSCE letter Balkanalysis 3

Document 3. The title page of the Vatican questionnaire, with the hand-written words ‘Allegato No. 1’ and ‘Macedonia’ scrawled across it by an unknown cleric. The document, specifically titled as being from the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, asks for information on 11 kinds of anti-Christian hate crimes for the questionnaire. Interestingly, under the category ‘abduction,’ a general example is given: “November 7, 2009, Turkey.”


Vatican OSCE letter Balkanalysis 4

Document 4. The first specific questions page, again topped by the handwritten words, ‘Allegato No. 2.’ This page raises the most explosive (by modern standards) questions regarding contraception, abortion, gay issues, laws against Christian beliefs on these issues and so on.


Vatican OSCE letter Balkanalysis 5

Document 5. The third page of the questionnaire asks further questions about whether Christian groups are prevented from receiving public funding based on their beliefs, and asks if laws prohibit home schooling and religious education classes in public and private schools.


Vatican OSCE letter Balkanalysis 6

Document 6. The final page of the Vatican questionnaire asks for the number of hate crimes perpetrated in the year and, most importantly, for the identities of the state security bodies consulted for confirmation of these incidents. It also asks the respondent to sign it.

It is not known if this questionnaire was ever completed as directed by Msgr. Bolonek, and whether any possible non-cooperation has influenced the Sofia nunciature’s outreach, or lack thereof, since 2012.