The first International Religious Meeting ever takes place in Washington, DC, with the support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
By Lisa Zengarini
Washington DC is expecting the first ever International Religious Freedom Summit (IRC) this week. The event, which was announced in April by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), began on July 13 and will run through July 15, in a mixed format, bringing together more than 40 organizations of different faiths and countries committed to supporting religious freedom around the world.
The IRC Summit is sponsored by the United States Committee of Justice and International Peace Committee of the Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and will be held on an annual basis. Other participating organizations include Relief for the Church in Need, the Pontifical Catholic Church Foundation that supports other persecuted Catholics and Christians (ACN), the Knights of Columbus, the Church of the Middle East, Open Doors, but also Muslim and Jewish Organizations.
Rising religious persecution
The purpose of the Summit is to provide knowledge on international religious freedom and to address violations against religious freedom, while providing a support group for those being persecuted for their faith. Religious persecution is on the rise in many countries: According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 83 percent of the world’s approximately 7 billion people now live in countries with high government or social hostility involving religion and persecution.
The summit also aims to create a coalition of global organizations that together will push for the cause of religious freedom in the world, as it raises public awareness and raises political strengths for the movement. Every culture, nation, religious or political system should strive to better protect religious freedom, a vital human right, Bishop David J. Malloy, said the chairman of the US Bishops Committee for International Justice and Peace.
Topics discussed and speakers
Topics discussed during the meeting include: refugee protection; sectarian violence in Nigeria; the use of high technology for purposes of persecution, religious discrimination, and growing religious nationalism. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chairman of the USCCB Religious Freedom Committee, Mike Pompeo, former U.S. Secretary of State, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives are among the speakers.
The USCIRF is a bipartisan federal commission set up by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 to monitor violations of religious freedom internationally and make policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. His findings and recommendations are published in an annual report.
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