Today, I spoke at the Catholic University of America about international religious freedom. I would like to share a copy of my speech with you.
Here is an excerpt:
Today our focus is on threats to international religious freedom, but, as you are well aware, there are serious challenges to religious freedom within our own nation, serious problems the Church faces in her life and mission in the United States — threats that could marginalize the Church and her educational, charitable and health care institutions. As grave as these challenges remain, they are of a different order than those faced by Christians and other people of faith in many countries. In the words of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, “Of course, nobody would confuse or equate this marginalization of religion with the actual persecution and killing of Christians in other areas of the world.” Not only is it morally imperative, consonant with the urgent gospel demands of justice and charity, for us as Catholics to be prophetic leaders in defending our co-religionists around the world who are today being “thrown to the lions,” but it is strategicallynecessary, as our own laudable efforts to defend our “first and most cherished freedom” here at home, are hollow and hypocritical if not coupled with a ringing solicitude for those under more overtly violent attack throughout the world.In all of our deliberations here we must remember that the absence of religious freedom in countries around the world leads to terrible human suffering. We hold in our hearts images of bloodied bodies lying lifeless amidst the rubble of bombed houses of worship, and the anguished faces of family members mourning their loss. We remember the anxious looks of refugees leaving behind homes and livelihoods as they flee religious discrimination or outright persecution. My hope is that we will together find ways to build societies respectful of the religious freedom of all persons and communities, a freedom at the foundation of all others, a freedom we Americans of all creeds, or none at all, rise to defend, at home and beyond.
Click here to view a PDF copy of my speech.